FARGO - Now that Chris Klieman is headed to Kansas State, what’s next for North Dakota State? University President Dean Bresciani said he would like the process to have a brisk pace to it.
“I think because of a lot of factors,” Bresciani said. “Sooner is much better than later. We’ll even see if that’s an option.”
If later is not an option, that would indicate that one of the current Bison assistant coaches would be in line for a promotion. The likely candidates are offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and defensive coordinator Matt Entz.
When Craig Bohl was named the Wyoming head coach in December of 2013, it took eight days before Klieman was named the head coach. Both remained on staff until after the national title game in early January in Frisco.
Bresciani reiterated on a couple of occasions that it is athletic director Matt Larsen’s job to hire the next coach.
“But I’ll certainly have an interest in making sure I’m comfortable with it,” he said. “We’ve already had conversations about it and will continue to have conversations about it.”
It appears it will be the same process that former athletic director Gene Taylor went through with the Bohl departure and Klieman hire.
“Just with Gene when Chris became the head coach, there will be a process and a decision,” Bresciani said.
One factor that could expedite the process: national signing day is Wednesday, Dec. 19. NDSU has at least 25 verbal commitments and as of Tuesday morning, nobody publicly said they’re going anywhere else. Naming a head coach could quickly calm those waters.
Klieman has a stipulation in his Bison contract in which he is not allowed to contact current Bison recruits and woo them to another school, in this case K-State.
Klieman on Monday accepted the head coaching position with the Wildcats, but will still coach the Bison throughout postseason. NDSU hosts South Dakota State Friday night in the semifinals of the Division I FCS playoffs.
The winner earns a trip to the national title game in Frisco, Texas. The loser will see its season end.
Perhaps the biggest question in the wake of Klieman’s announcement is which assistants will go with him to Kansas State and which will stay, if any. Three Wildcat assistants have multi-year contracts, according to The Mercury newspaper in Manhattan, Kan.
Offensive coordinator Andre Coleman has a base salary of $440,000 in a deal that extends to April 30, 2021.
Offensive line coach Charlie Dickey had a base salary of $480,000 with raises in each of the next two years, a deal similar in length as quarterbacks coach Collin Klein. The Wildcats would have to buy out all three of the contracts if Klieman does not retain them.
Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor said an interview with K-StateHD TV that there was never any stipulation put on a candidate that he would have to retain any current Wildcat assistant coaches.
"All we told every candidate is look, we have some great staff. We encourage you to interview as many or all of them, whatever you feel your needs are, because obviously they have coaches they're familiar with and coaches that they've coached with or people they've worked with that are maybe at other institutions," Taylor said. "But we never want to say you have to hire somebody, that puts that coach in a bad position and puts the assistants in a bad position if you think about it because they only want to work if they're wanted too. "
Meanwhile, Bresciani said he was heartened at the fan and campus reaction to the hiring of Klieman. He had yet to hear of a negative comment as of late Monday night.
“And that’s everybody, I’m amazed,” Bresciani said. “This is my fourth Division I athletic program and I’ve never been somewhere where a departing coach is more respected and the response as enthusiastic for Chris.”