Smooth Transition to Klieman Leaves Few Questions
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 14:01
Without coaching a game, Chris Klieman is already excelling at his new head coaching duties for the NDSU football team. Obviously, the true mark of an excellent head coach is how their team performs on Saturdays. But what Klieman has done so far in the offseason is nothing short of impressive.
Amidst all the controversy and rumors of a supposed rift in the coaching staff during the 2013 national championship run, Klieman was left juggling three important issues: continue to come up with a game plan as the defensive coordinator in the last two games, begin forming a new coaching staff, and get on the phone with recruits to reassure their commitment.
He didn’t do too bad of a job. With maybe an awkward situation of working across the hall from a guy that’s sitting in your next year’s office, Klieman’s defense continued to excel. His game plan shut down a New Hampshire offense that was apparently similar to Oregon’s. In the championship game, his defense held the unusual FCS-junior-declaring-for-the-NFL-Draft, Terrance West, to 99 yards.
Even more impressive, Klieman was on the phone more than the “can you hear me now” guy, talking to recruits and potential coaches. And somehow, someway, the NDSU football team has yet to lose a verbal commitment. That is amazing.
When an entire coaching staff changes, there’s bound to be some doubts. High school players grow comfortable with the head coach and their recruiting coach. Some say players don’t commit to coaches, they commit to the school. That’s mostly true, but when that coach is gone, these young adults question if they’re still wanted at that school.
I don’t know the exact sales pitch Klieman told his recruits, most likely those three Division I national championships in the trophy case, but he’s held everyone on board. That includes big time recruits in Marcus Collins, who’s already on campus, Blake Williams and the incredibly hyped Nebraska quarterback Easton Stick. Klieman said the Bison are looking for 22-25 commits this season, and they are nearing that number.
A big credit to the successful recruiting is the coaching staff Klieman put into place. For starters, offensive coordinator Tim Polasek is a man any player would want to play for. He’s passionate and as fiery as hot Cheetos dipped in buffalo sauce when it comes to football. Polasek had been in touch with Williams when he was coaching at FBS Northern Illinois. Quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg brings a veteran presence that has many sources in the Missouri Valley. And defensive coordinator Matt Entz worked with Klieman at Northern Iowa.
That continuity in a coaching staff is appealing to recruits. Of course, a lot can change from now until signing day on Feb. 5. But so far, everything is looking positive for Klieman’s first class.
And while he is building the future, Klieman may have said the most important thing at his Dec. 15 press conference when he stated the culture of Bison football isn’t going to change. That’s a huge deal for his current players he has on his roster. And as of now, there’s no word of any player transferring to a different school.
The smooth transition from previous coach Craig Bohl to Klieman has left little questions for Bison fans. Apparently, the 2014 recruiting class doesn’t have any questions either. Klieman has done a marvelous job so far in his head coaching duties, leaving little uncertainly with the program. The true result, though, will show on the field.