FARGO — One of the most impressive coaching runs in NCAA college football history at one school is coming to a close this season. Chris Klieman has accepted the head coaching job at Kansas State, the school announced on its football Twitter account Monday night.
Klieman will coach the team through the playoffs, according to an NDSU release.
Klieman agreed to a six-year contract with a base salary of $2.3 million in 2019 with a $200,000 raise each year, according to a Kansas State news release. Klieman made a $457,000 base salary, including bonuses, in 2017 at NDSU.
The hire ends eight years of success at North Dakota State for Klieman, the first three as an assistant coach and the past five as the head coach. NDSU went 110-8 in that span with six Division I FCS national titles.
Klieman will be reunited with Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, who hired him as the Bison head coach after the 2013 season.
"When (Taylor) went to K-State, I would be blind if I didn't say, when he got that job, I wouldn't have said that could be a spot, if (Snyder) ever retired, that I would have a great interest in," Klieman said on his weekly coaches show on 1660-AM. "Coach Snyder is an icon. When he retired, I have representation and those people reached out to Gene. And Gene said there's an interest."
Klieman told his players of the move late Monday afternoon.
"I think we all kind of knew," said defensive end Greg Menard, as he left practice.
Year Position Record Conference Playoffs 2011 Assistant Coach 14-1 7-1 MVFC (1st, tie) FCS Champion 2012 Defensive Coordinator 14-1 7-1 MVFC (1st) FCS Champion 2013 Defensive Coordinator 15-0 8-0 MVFC (1st) FCS Champion 2014 Head Coach 15-1 7-1 MVFC (1st, tie) FCS Champion 2015 Head Coach 13-2 7-1 MVFC (1st, tie) FCS Champion 2016 Head Coach 12-2 7-1 MVFC (1st, tie) FCS Semifinalist 2017 Head Coach 14-1 7-1 MVFC (1st) FCS Champion 2018 Head Coach 13-0* 8-0 MVFC (1st)
Klieman is scheduled for a press conference Wednesday in Manhattan, Kan. Taylor told The Forum he's going to wait to comment until after that event.
The decision ends a process that has hung over the program since last week when it became apparent Klieman was a prime target. It appeared on Monday it was down to either he or Troy (Ala.) head coach Neal Brown.
Klieman was 67-6 as the head coach. He came to NDSU in 2011 from Northern Iowa, where he was the defensive coordinator. He spent one year as the defensive backs coach. After Bison defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton left to be the linebackers coach at USC, Klieman was elevated to Hazelton’s former spot for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Klieman took over the top job when head coach Craig Bohl left for the University of Wyoming after the Bison won their third straight FCS national title in 2013. The train didn’t stop with Klieman.
NDSU took home titles in 2014 and 2015, making it five a row. After a semifinal loss to James Madison in 2016, NDSU reclaimed its title last season beating JMU in the championship game in Frisco, Texas.
The Bison picked up where they left off claiming their eighth straight Missouri Valley Football Conference title this year. Ranked No. 1 all year, NDSU was rarely challenged through 13 games heading into next Friday’s FCS semifinals.
Reports of Kansas State taking a serious interest in Klieman heated up late in the week when North Texas head coach Seth Littrell, believed to be the top candidate to replace Bill Snyder, said he was staying at UNT.
That turned the attention to Klieman.
Besides Brown, the other candidate believed to be in the mix was University of Memphis head coach Mike Norvell. Brown is 34-16 at Troy with one Sun Belt Conference title. Troy is 2-0 in bowl games under Brown with the program claiming wins over Nebraska and LSU in his tenure. The 37-year-old Norvell is also considered an up-and-comer in the profession with the Tigers, who won 10 games a year ago with a top-25 ranking. Norvell announced on Monday he was not in the running for the K-State job.
In Klieman, Taylor turns to a known commodity -- at least for the athletic director. The two remained in touch over the years. Klieman said he had a three-hour meeting with Taylor and two other football search committee members last Thursday morning. He said he had a one-hour phone call with Kansas State president Richard Myers on Sunday.
Per his contract, Klieman will have to pay NDSU a $150,000 buyout.