The UND administration, led by Athletic Director Brian Faison, has decided to cancel the last two years of Coach Chris Mussman’s contract. Mussman’s tenure as the head coach of UND will end immediately, being UND played it’s last game of the 2013 on Saturday – losing 34-18 to UC-Davis. We are told the entire staff has been relieved of their duties as well. Mussman’s buyout is 175k.
Mussman’s coaching record at UND in his six season’s was 31-34. He was previously the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at UND for nine seasons, leading them to the 2001 National Championship over Grand Valley State.
Mussman inherited an extremely unique situation for a head coach when he was named to the UND head job back in 2008. UND had just finished it’s last year of Division II competition and was embarking on the transition to FCS football (formerly D1-AA). UND was without a conference when they made the move so they joined the Great West Conference, which was made up of teams that were also making the transition to Divison 1. There were only five teams in the conference so it was up to UND to find seven non-conference games per year.
The UND nickname debate began to rear it’s ugly head during the transition, also. Several teams, like Minnesota and Wisconsin, came out and said they would not play UND in any non-conference sports due to the Sioux nickname. It basically put a cloud over the athletic department and took up valuable time and resources when those were sorely needed during the transition to D1 for all sports.
The UND football program never did get the “signature win” during the Mussman era that the program to hang it’s hat on. We feel that really hurt the loyalty of the fanbase. With the success that NDSU and SDSU had during the transition and afterwards, the fans were expecting that same kind of success and it never came.
Mussman’s best season by far was the 2011 year when UND went 8-3 and won the Great West Conference Championship by beating rival South Dakota with a furious 21-point fourth quarter comeback.
By far, the low point of Mussman’s tenure was the 2009 home loss to NAIA Sioux Falls College. They had just come off a Homecoming victory over South Dakota in front of 12,400 fans and things were seemingly peaking during the second year of the transition. That was, until the Cougars showed up at the Alerus Center and beat UND 28-13. UND was never really in it and consequently, the UND fanbase never seemed to be 100% into it after that, either. Losing to an NAIA squad when you were supposed to now be “FCS” was inexcusable to many.
With all that being said, one thing that cannot be denied and must be commended is the dedication Coach Mussman had to the UND Football program. He came to UND in 1999 from Mankato State as new the offensive line coach. Basically, he took a demotion from being the offensive coordinator at Mankato to be the offensive line coach at UND. He wanted to be in Grand Forks and work for the Fighting Sioux. Sure enough a year later he became the offensive coordinator and a year after that he helped lead them to the school’s only National Championship. His offenses were always able to run the ball effectively while hurting teams with timely play-action deep balls. They made the D2 playoffs all but one year from 2001 to 2007. Mussman then got his first big chance at being a head coach when former Coach Dale Lennon left to go to Southern Illinois.
We would like to thank Chris Mussman and his staff for their years of time and dedication to the UND Football program. We wish all of them the best of luck in the future.