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Bison head coach wary of staff burnout coaching 24 games in one calendar year

NDSU plans on cutting back on spring football schedule.

North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz lifts the trophy after the 38-10 win over Montana State in the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

FARGO – Stormy Buonantony, the ESPN television reporter orchestrating the FCS national title trophy ceremony on the north stage of Toyota Stadium, was engulfed and almost disappeared in a sea of North Dakota State players and staff. Meanwhile, off to the side, assistant coach Nick Goeser was soaking in another championship.

Underneath the celebration, there seemed to be a hint of something else. It was one, long season.

“I need a vacation,” said Goeser, when asked about coaching 24 games. “I need some time off. It’s been a long year and I love coaching college football. I love being there every day but it goes back to our families, the commitment my wife and kids have made over the last year; it’s unbelievable and I’m fortunate to have them in my life.”

Relief that a calendar year of coaching is over might be too strong considering the Bison finished 14-1 and won their ninth Division I FCS national title in 11 seasons. Assistant head coach Randy Hedberg spoke of recruiting this week. Offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl said he was planning on getting back into the office on Tuesday.

North Dakota State linebackers coach Grant Olson talks to his players before kick off against Montana State in the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

Make no mistake, head coach Matt Entz on Monday stressed the need to get away from football.


“Do I sense it? They all need a break, I know that,” he said. “Because of who they are and the pride they have in the program, they would never let me know they’re getting burned out. I know there are days I need to step back. If I needed it, they needed it.”

The coaching staff began preparation for the pandemic-delayed spring season in the first week of January, 2021. Saturday’s 38-10 win over Montana State was on Jan. 8, 2022. The first spring game was Feb. 21 against Youngstown State, a season with one game in the fall of 2020 that ended 7-3 and in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.

Because of playing 24 games in a calendar year, NDSU is planning on shortening spring football practice from 15 practices to 12.

“At some point, you have to make sure a healthy team is a better team doing a million reps,” Entz said. “And because we’ve had a million reps, when we work, then we’ll work.”

North Dakota State offensive line coach Dan Larson gathers up "The Rams" before kick off against Montana State in the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

Two Bison players are set to undergo surgery this week. Safety Michael Tutsie, who had a high ankle sprain against the Bobcats, will get a procedure done on a wrist injury he played with in the playoffs. Linebacker James Kaczor will have a procedure done on his shoulder. Offensive lineman Cody Mauch tweaked a knee but appeared fine in the post-game celebration.

Entz on Monday was named the American Football Coaches Association FCS Coach of the Year for the second time in three years. It’s the eighth time a Bison coach has won a national coach of the year honor joining Don Morton (1983), Earle Solomonson (1986), Rocky Hager (1988, 1990), Craig Bohl (2012, 2013) and Entz (2019, 2021).

The Bison, as expected, finished unanimous No. 1 in both the FCS Coaches and Stats Perform top 25 polls. Montana State and James Madison finished second and third, respectively, in both polls.

Montana State opted out of FCS play last spring. Most programs played a limited schedule.


“We need to make sure we continue to be smarter and not harder all the time,” Entz said. “You need balance in your life. We’ve pulled these coaches away from their families and kids and other obligations for the better part of a year. Right now, it’s more of what a normal calendar looks like now. We’ll continue with (recruiting) visits on Fridays but it will be more 8 to 5 types of hours. I think it’s good for everyone’s mentality but at the same time we need to make sure we’re doing the same things necessary to keep the program moving forward.”

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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