A new era of K-State football began last night with the hiring of North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman (pronounced KLY-man) to lead the Wildcats. National response was generally positive, though among Wildcat fans, it was decidedly mixed.
Klieman has assembled an impressive record at North Dakota State, including a 67-6 overall record, three national titles in the NCAA’s FCS division, and an upcoming semi-final game Friday on the march to a possible fourth national championship. Granted, he’s done it at a lower division. But 67-6? That’s impressive anywhere.
Are there unanswered questions? Sure. There is no such thing as a sure thing in college athletics, and fans will find reasons to complain about any hire. The debate raged in the comments section here last night on Jon Morse’s post announcing the hire. It will continue, no doubt, until we see the product on the field.
For his part, Klieman is excited for the opportunity, calling K-State a “dream job.” That seems like a good start. He also appears to embody the hard-nosed, businesslike work ethic that has come to characterize K-State football. If he can recruit, there is no reason to suspect his coaching acumen won’t translate to big-time Power 5 football. That may be the biggest unknown, though really, how well has K-State been recruiting in the last couple of years?
More news coverage than we could hope to link, but we’ll provide a smattering of it.
Football Scoop zeroed in on the moment Athletic Director Gene Taylor called to offer the job to Klieman. The coach’s excitement is palpable. Klieman says he is honored to follow in the footsteps of legendary head coach Bill Snyder, and is fully aware of the magnitude of the responsibility:
‘’I’m so happy and thrilled to follow a legend. The opportunity to follow in an icon’s footsteps is something I don’t take for granted and don’t take lightly. I know I have huge shoes to fill and I’m excited to carry on his legacy.’’
Chris Klieman, on succeeding Coach Bill Snyder as K-State head football coach
Alex Kirshner at the mother-ship broke down four exciting and three “other,” not necessarily negative, things about K-State hiring Klieman. Arne Green at the Capital-Journal quoted Taylor’s belief that Klieman is the perfect fit for K-State.
The athletic department release includes Klieman’s resume, along with the expected optimistic outlook. The Mercury compiled tweets from various current and former players, all of whom expressed excitement with the hire. One tweet the Mercury missed came from Ben Leber, former linebacker, current college football broadcaster, and owner of one of the best Twitter handles anywhere:
KState fans: @CoachKli had big shoes to fill at NDSU and went on to win 3 Nat’l Championships, maybe another. I know he’s a tremendous coach who is the right fit. Give him a chance and show him why we have the best fans in the game. #EMAW— Ben Leber (@nacholeber) December 11, 2018
In a feature article similar to one we might write here, Sam Mellinger acknowledged that nobody knows whether Klieman’s success in Fargo will translate to Manhattan, but that he’s earned the opportunity to move up in the coaching world. As if to prove the point, our own TB weighed in this morning with reasons why the hire may work...and reasons it may not.
In other football news, offensive tackle Dalton Risner has been named one of three finalists for yet another character and class honor, the Jason Witten Award. Meanwhile, Adam Holtorf and Zach Reuter were both named first team Academic All-Americans. They are the first Wildcats to make first team since Tysyn Hartman in 2011.
Finally, there is some indication that recruiting may actually get a bounce from the coaching announcement. Logan Wilson, a 5-11, 170-pound cornerback from Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, became the first verbal commitment of the Klieman era, just an hour or so after the hiring was announced. Wilson was at one time committed to Arizona and also held scholarship offers from Iowa and a number of smaller Texas schools.
Not all news was football related. Kayla Goth was named Big 12 player of the week in women’s basketball, becoming the first Wildcat to win the award since Brittany Chambers in March of 2013. Goth averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in wins over Lamar and at Arkansas-Little Rock. She leads the Big 12 in assists, with 57 on the year.
Track and Field
Senior Brett Neelly broke a 37-year old school record and became the first Wildcat ever to throw 20 meters in the shot with a 20.15-meter (66-01.5-feet) effort at the K-State Winter Invitational in Ahearn Fieldhouse. The previous record had been set in 1981 by All-American Ray Bradley.