Minnesota State Moorhead is hoping a familiar face in the region can help return the football program to past glory, naming Steve Laqua its new head football coach Friday.
A former player for North Dakota State, Laqua was head coach at Fargo Shanley the past four seasons.
"I am unbelievably confident about where we are going and the things we are going to achieve," said Laqua.
Laqua - from Cavalier, N.D. - played quarterback and linebacker at NDSU (which was Division II at the time) from 1997-2000. He started his coaching career at NDSU in 2002 as a graduate assistant.
Laqua, 32, also coached at Minnesota-Crookston, St. Olaf College and had a second stint at NDSU before taking the head job at Shanley.
That familiarity to the area was one thing MSUM athletic director Doug Peters liked about Laqua.
"It's important because he already has credibility with people," Peters said. "That wasn't the ultimate factor in making the decision, but it is something that I value and I think will be an asset. People in our region know who he is and know what he stands for."
Peters said Laqua agreed to a four-year deal, but the financial details have not been finalized. Peters added the fact Laqua doesn't have any college head coaching experience wasn't a deterrent.
"At the end of the day, football is football, whatever level that you are playing at," Peters said. "He's displayed all the skills and attributes that a successful (college) head coach needs to have. And I'm excited that we're the school to give him the chance to grow and blossom as a head college football coach."
The Dragons have had one winning season since 1999 and have posted a 2-9 record in each of the past three seasons. In the 1980s, the Dragons had a 77-28-2 record under Ross Fortier while playing in the NAIA.
Laqua is MSUM's fifth head coach since 2004. He hopes he can be a coach with a long tenure.
"Any great program has stability in it starting with the coaching staff all the way down to the players," Laqua said.
MSUM quarterback Kevin Koch, who started last fall as a junior, was pleased the program has a head coach and can move forward.
"It's definitely a relief," Koch said. "These past two months have been pretty hard on the team. I guess it shows the character we have on this team. We never had a head coach, but we stuck together as a team."
Laqua said he would start recruiting efforts right away with national signing day set for next Wednesday.
However, schools can continue to recruit kids until early March.
"The Wednesday signing day is not super realistic," Laqua said. "Our goal is to get as many kids on campus as possible and show them what we are all about."
Laqua said he would like to add 20 to 25 new players by the end of recruiting with a focus on high school players. Laqua thinks he will be able to add the first couple assistants to his staff within the next week.
"I have an extreme confidence in where we are going and what we can be," Laqua said. "Not where we are right now, but what we can be."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson's blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com