Profiling Potential Candidates

We thought we’d get started on some names that are being thrown out there as potential candidates to fill the vacated head coaching position at UND.  Many, many names will come and go throughout the process.  We’d also like to state that this is pure speculation by us and we have no idea which direction Brian Faison is leaning at this time if any.  There is always a chance that the person ultimately hired is not on this list.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Glenn Caruso – St Thomas
Level:  Division III
Current position:  Head Coach
Profile:  Caruso has a reputation for turning around programs when they are down.  He did it at Macalester College where nobody had won and he’s now built sleeping giant St. Thomas into a perennial power in the MIAC and Division III.  At 8-2, they narrowly missed the playoffs this season, but he has brought them to the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010, semifinals in 2011, and the national championship game in 2012.  Before his 1st head coaching gigs, he held positions at NDSU (2002) and South Dakota (2006-2007) as offensive coordinator.

Kalen DeBoer – Southern Illinois
Level:  FCS
Current position:  Offensive Coordinator
Profile:  After building an absolute NAIA perrenial stalwart at Sioux Falls College where he won 3 national championships and compiled a 67-3 record (.960) over 5 seasons as a head coach, Deboer left after the 2009 season to join Dale Lennon’s staff as offensive coordinator.  Deboer is a known name in UND circles because of his accomplishment of beating UND at The Alerus Center in 2009 during the transition.  He is considered part of the reason why UND is searching for a coach today.

Tim Tibesar – Chicago Bears
Level:  NFL
Current position:  Linebackers Coach
Profile:  This UND Football alum has experience coaching at UND as a defensive coordinator in 2005 before he left for Manhattan, Kansas to join Ron Prince’s staff at Kansas State as special teams coordinator and then defensive coordinator.  Since then, the former Sioux linebacker has made stops at Purdue as defensive coordinator and in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes in the same position, where he won 2 Grey Cups with Head Coach Marc Trestman, whom he is currently with in the NFL and the Chicago Bears where Trestman is now the Head Coach.  We’d like to point out that we believe this is the longest of longshots and not a likely option.

Scott Hazelton – Nevada
Level:  FBS
Current position:  Defensive Coordinator
Profile:  Hazelton became a familiar name after he took over a bad NDSU defense from Mike Breske in 2010 and turned it around immediately into an FCS championship-caliber defense in 2011 when they won it all.  In 2012, Hazelton left to join Lane Kiffin at USC where he coached linebackers for one season under the tutelage of NFL guru and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  He’s now in his 1st season as defensive coordinator at Nevada.

Chris Klieman – NDSU
Level:  FCS
Current position:  Defensive Coordinator
Profile:  No doubt Klieman inherited a good situation when Scott Hazelton left for USC, but he has maintained the defensive level of play at NDSU and some could argue he’s improved on it the last 2 years.  An experienced FCS coordinator with familiar recruiting ties in the upper midwest, the former UNI Panther was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater before arriving in Fargo in 2011.

Robin Pflugrad – Weber State
Level:  FCS
Current Position:  Offensive Coordinator
Profile:  The former University of Montana Head Coach went 18-7 in Missoula and led them to the national semi-finals in 2011.  He was let go prior to 2012 season due to handling of off-the-field issues.  Prior to Montana he held a number of FBS jobs, including 6 years at Arizona State as WR coach/recruiting coordinator, 5 years at Washington State and 2 years at Oregon in similar roles.  Pflugrad is a Portland State alum.

Lance Leipold – UW-Whitewater
Level:  Division III
Current position:  Head Coach
Profile:  Leipold has built a national power at Whitewater.  In his seven years at there, Leipold has gone an astounding 89-6 and won 4 D3 national championships.  Prior to UWW, Leipold held the OC/AHC position at Nebraska-Omaha for three years (2004-2006) under former UND HC Pat Berhns.  He also spent time on the Nebraska staff from 2001-2003.  Leipold is a Whitewater alum.

Brooks Bollinger – Pitt
Level:  FBS
Current position:  Quarterbacks Coach
Profile:  Born and raised in Grand Forks, Bollinger left after high school to play for Barry Alvarez at the University of Wisconsin where he was part of 2 Rose Bowl winning squads.  After playing in the NFL for 4 different teams over the course of 7 seasons, he finished up his pro football career in the UFL in 2010 and made the transition into coaching.  As head coach, he led Hill-Murray High School to the state semifinals in his only season before leaving with former Badgers OC Paul Chryst to join the Pittsburgh Panthers staff in the ACC, where he has been the QBs coach for the last 2 seasons.  Considered a rising star in the coaching profession.

John Wristen – CSU-Pueblo
Level:  Division II
Current position:  Head Coach
Profile:  The Pueblo alum literally built the program from scratch when he was hired in 2008.  CSU-Pueblo re-started their football program after 24 years of not having one and tabbed Wristen as the guy to do it.  He had a career record of 43-14 at Pueblo coming into the 2013 season and heading into the D2 playoffs they are 11-0 and have a number one seed in their region.  Wristen spent 9 years on the staff at Northwestern and also 7 years at Colorado was TE’s coach and recruiting coordinator.  Wristen’s Thunderwolves beat Big Sky member Northern Colorado 41-36 earlier this season.

Bubba Schweigert – Southern Illinois
Level:  FCS
Current position:  Defensive Coordinator
Profile:  The former UND defensive coordinator currently resides in Carbondale, IL on Dale Lennon’s staff at Southern Illinois.  Between the 2 jobs as defensive coordinator, he had a stop at Division II power Minnesota-Duluth as head coach from 2004-2007.  Many give Schweigert a lot of the credit for building up the Bulldogs to the level that they are at today in D2 as a perennial national championship contender.

Mike Van Diest – Carroll College
Level:  NAIA
Current position:  Head Coach
Profile:  Van Diest has built a national power at Carroll College.  He has led them to 6 NAIA national championships and a gaudy 164-26 record during his 14 seasons in Helena.  He is a Wyoming alum and has coached on staffs at Montana, Wyoming and Northwestern.  The Saints are currently 10-1 and beginning the NAIA playoffs this week.  He is personally responsible for 2 of Kalen Deboer’s 3 losses as head coach.

What do you think of this list and what are your thoughts on the potential candidates?  Discuss…


45 Responses

    1. We feel that ship has sailed. He left UND during the transition and some people have a hard time forgetting about that. Getting Dale back down the road in some capacity would be great. We just don’t think its as head coach this time. But we’ve been wrong before.

  1. Mike

    I’ll be interested to see what UND and Faison end up spending on a staff. They supported Mussman pitifully over his tenure in terms of Asst Coach and Coordinator pay, and it showed on the field. It really strapped Mussman and I think that’s on Faison. Our first years in the Big Sky could have been much better with a more experienced, veteran assistant staff and coordinators during and coming out of the transition. But, Faison never stepped up back then.

    Higher pay for the new head coach is one thing. But, now if they open up the checkbook for quality assistants, pay a new head coach more than we ever have and also pay Muss’ buyout…..that shows a complete failure by Brian Faison over the last 6 years. I wonder if UND fired the wrong guy.

    1. Dustin

      Faison has done more this athletic department than anybody ever has. There was no way to get “a more experienced, veteran assistant staff and coordinators” when your program is transitioning and has no legit conference. Faison renewed the contracts in 2011 to give the coaches a chance with all the previous hindrances (conference, nickname, transition) out of the way to see how it goes. As we see two years later, it didn’t work out very well, so we’re gonna give another guy a shot. Simple as that.

  2. Greg

    Very nice, comprehensive list here. As much as I hate fishing from the program in Fargo – Chris Klieman was the first name that came to my mind and I do hope he’s considered, if he’s interested. Timing will be everything I think. If UND is willing to wait, they might have to for some of these potential candidates, but if they’re anxious – a few will be available shortly as well. I hope they find/get the long-term answer for the program.

  3. Joe in D.L.

    Did I also hear that Klieman’s wife is from Grand Forks. Likely not a big thing for her probably being so close already. Who knows

    Agree they didn’t support the staff financially……………never have, maybe now and we’ll see the benefits.

  4. SiouxManimal

    Agree Tim Tibesar is the longest shot on the list. Would be a nice choice if possible. Same for Brooks. I don’t see either of them dipping their toe into FCS at this point of thier careers, even for a HC position.

    I don’t see Randy Hedberg mentioned on any lists. Is he a possibility?

  5. guy

    Seriously Bubba Schweigert. He was mediocore at best in Duluth. As soon as he leaves BOOM 2 titles in 3 years.

    His defenses down in Southern Illinois are average at best in the MVFC. Let us not forget how fall that program has fallen since Jerry Kill left. You guys need to let go of your D2 glory “YEAR” coaches

    1. Adam

      What is the difference between D2 coaches and FCS coaches? Sounds like you have all the answers. If you knew anything Bubba left UMD and boom 2 championships with all his recruits. Two national championship apperances at UND and great respected defenses for years. Maybe you should apply GUY sounds like you really know football.

  6. geaux_sioux

    If you pay $5000 for a $5 ham sandwich does it taste better? Any questions?

    BTW I like coach Mussman, I just don’t see why Faison would have to overpay for a coach.

  7. UND92,96

    Do you guys really think Pflugrad will ever get another shot to be a head coach given how things ended for him at Montana?

    1. I could be wrong and I don’t know all of the specifics on that situation, but wasn’t the primary reason Pflugrad was let go because of the Johnson court case? If so, the innocent verdict probably helps his cause out I would think. Johnson is back playing QB and enrolled in school at Montana. Pflugrad seemed to be the scapegoat there. Maybe someone can confirm or correct me on this info?

  8. BobIwabuchiFan

    Hard to beat either Caruso or DeBoer…If we get either one, it will be a huge step up for the program and recruiting…

  9. Dan

    You definitely need someone who can recruit in this area, Kliman and Hazelton are obvious, but a current Big Sky coach makes sense also. Hazelton probably is making more than $150K at Nevada.

  10. SiouxFan11

    I’m assuming Hazelton and Tibesar are long shots, so my top 3 in this order would be.

    1. Glen Caruso – Proven program builder with great local connections. Great recruiter and has even gotten kids to choose St. Thomas over playing FCS in recruiting the last few years. Great coach, great leader, and his players love him. Also has a few UND guys on staff. Would be my top choice.

    2. Chris Klieman – Defensive minded, knows the midwest, and would bring the Bison winning mentality that has won 2 titles to UND.

    3.Brooks Bollinger – Young up and comer. In a few years we have no chance at him because he’ll either be an FBS OC, NFL assistant, or head coach somewhere else. Has great coaching connections and would probably hire a great staff. Every kid in ND, MN, & WI knows who he is and he would be a great recruiter. Young coach that would probably relate really well to his players. Would be a fan favorite instantly.

    I would be really happy with any of those 3.

    1. Tom Gould

      Brooks would be a no brainer. Great athletic background, great kid, and a local star at that. Agree kids would love to play for him. I wish they would bring his Dad back in some capacity at UND

  11. Mike

    My point is Faison had the opportunity to spend a few dollars last year with both coordinator jobs open coming into a critical year for UND and Mussman. He refused. I told everyone coming into this year, it was going to be worse than year 1 in the BSC, because of no Hanson, 3 FR QBs, and on top of that, 2 rookie coordinators. I got laughed at for that. Plain and simple, Faison went cheap last year at Mussman’s expense. Now, he’s the hero for spending like he should have at least a couple years ago? Give me a break. Faison ran the FB program like a mid level D2 program financially and we as Sioux fans and Mussman have all paid for it.

    1. UND92,96

      I think the lack of an upperclassman quarterback, the lack of an offensive line that could run block, and the consistent use of undersized running backs who weren’t physically capable of breaking tackles was a far bigger problem than the experience level of the coordinator.

      On defense, did it get worse than last year? I didn’t think so. If anything, it was a little better under Kotelnicki, at least in terms of tackling. Kotelnicki had the requisite experience level to warrant a promotion.

      1. MoSiouxFan

        I agree. Almost everyone underestimated the significance of going from a record-setting, 5th year sr. QB to an untested RFR. QB. Nothing against the two freshman QB’s, as they went through what most freshman QB’s go through and they will undoubtedly be fine as they mature and gain experience. Badmouth Coach Mussman all you want, but last year’s QB’s would have meant at least 3 more wins this season, IMO.

  12. nodak78

    Mussman had the best viewpoint to know if Bartels and Mollberg could get the job done. If he doubts he could have looked for another drop down senior. Sorry that is on Muss.

    1. UND92,96

      Just to clarify, I agree that ultimately any shortcomings in talent was ultimately on Muss. I just don’t agree with any attempt to deflect blame on Muss by throwing his staff or Faison under the bus, which a few have tried to do. Muss hired the staff. He had final say on who was recruited. He agreed to operate under whatever limitations he had in terms of pay for the staff. If he thought it was a situation where it was impossible to win, he could have either not taken the job in the first place (he almost certainly could have had the MSU-Mankato job after the 2007 season), or moved on voluntarily to an offensive line coach or offensive coordinator somewhere else. Yes, he faced daunting challenges. But he either knew or should have known what he was getting into.

  13. Mike

    You’re wrong if you think “Mussman hired the staff”. Faison hired the staff. If Mussman would have been able to afford what he wanted it certainly wouldn’t have been Josh or Luke as coordinators. You say he had the final say on who we recruited, that may be true. But, we didn’t get all we went after for lots of reasons. Most importantly, until the last 2 classes we had many well-known things going against the program. Once we got out of the nickname and conference affillation issues and into the Big Sky, the last 2 classes were tremendous. He did operate under those conditions, of course he knew what he was getting into. He’s getting all the blame. But, now watch UND pay a new staff triple what they paid the last 6 years and say “see, it was all Mussman’s fault” when success finally comes. That’s my fault with Faison. He went cheap. Then he got some heat and so he fired Mussman, knowing he’d have to finally pony up some real cash.

    1. Ramrod

      Why in the world would you think the last 2 classes are tremendous? If they were as good as you say most of them would have been playing. I would be willing to bet you thought the last 6 classes were tremendous too.

    2. Adam

      your a joke Luke and Josh are great coaches with terrible talent, take my words they will be big time coaches some day.

  14. Mike

    No, I didn’t say the last 6 classes were tremendous. That was part of the problem. Ask anyone who has recruited kids and coached college football and they will tell you how tough it was during the transition years. I said the last 2, and many of them did play. In comparison to some of the previous recruiting classes, it was pretty widely accepted the last couple were better. Some were forced to play, but many didn’t. We’ll benefit from that down the road.

    Fritz, you’re absolutely right….Mussman wanted 2 unprepared kids because he was trying to save UND money, not because that’s all Faison would allow. He hired what he could and dealt with that. He didn’t complain. Do a story in a couple months on the entire staff salary for next year and compare it to any of the last 5 years. That’s all I’m saying. Faison and UND failed Sioux football, everybit as much, and in my opinion more than Mussman did.

    1. UND Supporter

      Faison failed UND football as much as Mussman did? I absolutely disagree. Faison did not hire Mussman and Mussman hired his own assistants. I believe Mussman, along with his staff, are the reason this program is where it is at today. If anything, Faison will be the one to rectify this thing by hiring a quality leader/recruiter for the head coaching position.

  15. DMB

    What is the soonest a coach could be named? I know, unless you are promoting from within, there are certain procedures and hoops you need to jump through before you can make the hire.

  16. Sioux Nation

    Personally, I think Caruso would be a great hire. The other name not on the list is Tim Belmore. I don’t know if he fully qualified, but he did spend close to 12 years here and then left to become OC at Jamestown.
    You can talk all you want about who is to blame for this and that. The bottom line is that the head coach is ultimately responsible for the program….period. Mussman chose an OC who was too young, too inexperienced, and too immature to coach at this level. Mussman chose to put a DC in place who did nothing creative from the previous year. They played a 3-4, they had horrific pass coverage, and they tackled as poorly as the year before. I don’t know what his vision was, or how involved he was with game time decisions, but this team never had any heart with Mussman leading the program.

  17. Sam Pull

    Probably need to find a coach sooner than later. I was just told that stud wide-out Jameer Jackson signed his papers to be released from the team.

    1. That rumor has been floating around all morning. If true, it’s too bad. We are not completely surprised based on his actions over the last few years but hate to see talent leave the program.

  18. Sioux Forever

    It does appear that Jackson, along with a few other players have opted to transfer.
    Oskie, I agree that it is no surprise with Jackson and his “actions”. He must know he may not be coddled by a new coach. He pushed the limits but having him on the field seemed to trump discipline. Honestly, I don’t mind seeing him leave. It took the seniors to force Mussman to deal with his antics earlier this year (he was suspended for the first game…..big deal). Rumor is that he wasn’t real popular in the locker room.
    I just hope we get a coach in here who holds players accountable for their actions.

  19. DMB

    Mike – a few folks agree with you and many disagree (including me) but no matter what happened, it is in the past. Let’s be concerned (and excited) about moving forward.

  20. Sandman

    I have to agree with Mike here. History tells the story. When NDSU decided they were going to transition to DI, they spent big bucks finding the coach that could win when they finished the transition. He brought them through the transition and are poised to three-peat. UND lost Dale and instead of looking for a big name with a winning tradition, we went cheap and promoted from within. It was only a matter of time before Mus was fired; I am surprised he lasted this long. The AD didn’t put money into the team and the team and its fans are paying the price. Mike is correct, UND will now pay considerably more for its next batch of coaches and, assuming the team becomes successful, the AD will take credit where credit isn’t due.

    1. UND92,96

      Timing was everything. When Lennon left, UND did not have a real a.d., as this was the period between Buning’s termination and the hiring of Faison. It would have been quite challenging to conduct a national search with interim a.d.’s, and heading into the four-year division I transition.

    2. UND Supporter

      I certainly agree. Promoting Mussman right before the transition was a risky move that definitely did not pay dividends. Moving forward, let us all have faith that Faison will make the correct hire that gets UND back on track.

  21. Jay

    How about a write up of current applications. I hear on the radio this morning that they have received about 19 applications already. Some of those names would be very interested to see.

Comments are closed.