Kirby Cannon named Wildcat football’s new defensive coordinator

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan head football coach Kyle Nystrom announced Monday that Kirby Cannon will serve as his defensive coordinator.

“Kirby will be a great asset to our staff at Northern Michigan,” Nystrom said. “He’s an excellent football coach, an excellent teacher and has a proven track record. He’s also a wonderful person and a great developer of young men. He and his wife have both developed great relationships with the players that we’ve had at other places so we’re excited to welcome them to our football program.”

Cannon was previously on the Northern Michigan staff from 1995 to 1996. During his first stint in Marquette, he served as defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach. His efforts helped the Wildcats secure back-to-back 7-3 seasons.

After leaving Northern Michigan, Cannon went on to hold head coaching positions at Missouri S&T (1999 to 2009) and Austin Peay (2013 to 2015).

Cannon turned around Missouri S&T’s program, which had won just seven games during the four seasons before his arrival. In his final five campaigns at the helm, the Miners posted a 28-27 record. In 2005, they snapped a streak of 20-straight losing seasons by going 7-4. They also went 7-4 in 2008.

Between his time at Missouri S&T and Austin Peay, Cannon was a defensive backs coach on the Central Michigan staff, where he worked with Nystrom, then a linebackers coach. Cannon helped lead the Chippewas to a victory in the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Before he secured his first head coaching position at Missouri S&T (then called Missouri-Rolla), Cannon spent the 1997 and 1998 campaigns as a defensive backs coach at Western Illinois. He helped guide the Leathernecks to back-to-back Gateway Conference championships and a berth in the 1998 Division I-AA national semifinals. Western Illinois finished both seasons ranked in the top three in the Division I-AA national poll.

From 1989 to 1994, Cannon served as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State). He assumed the responsibilities of defensive coordinator in 1993. During his time in Kirksville, Mo., Northeast Missouri State made three NCAA Division II playoff appearances.

In 1985, Cannon was tabbed as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at North Central College (Ill.), where he stayed for four seasons. He began his coaching career in 1983, splitting time as a graduate assistant at Iowa State and a coach at Ozark High School (Mo.).

Cannon graduated from Missouri State, where he was a quarterback and a pitcher, in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. In 2011, he was inducted into Missouri State’s Athletics Hall of Fame.