News broke Monday that North Dakota State's Chris Klieman will be the next head coach at Kansas State. Details and updates on the news can be found here.
Now the question will turn to who will lead the Bison in 2019? Chances are the pool of candidates will be a small one. An in-house hire or someone that's been a part of the NDSU program before is the likely scenario.
But there are several options or names that will be brought up. Here are some of them:
Current position: NDSU Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Entz is the most obvious choice and the most popular choice among NDSU fans. He's been the defensive coordinator at NDSU since 2014, Klieman's first season as head coach.
Entz has ties all over the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He spent three seasons at Northern Iowa and was the defensive coordinator in 2012. Entz then became the co-DC and associate head coach at Western Illinois in 2013.
Hiring your in-house defensive coordinator with no D1 head coaching experience worked before at NDSU. This also provides stability for the program, players and recruits.
Current position: NDSU Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs
Messingham is in his second season as NDSU's OC and has done a solid job of making the Bison even more difficult to defend. He has 27 years of coaching experience and has made stops in the Big Ten and Big 12.
Messingham has MVFC roots, playing at UNI (he was Klieman's teammate) and also coached at Missouri State. He was the head coach at Upper Iowa from 2003-04.
Current position: NDSU Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line
Riley was one of just two assistants to stay on Klieman's staff when Craig Bohl took most of his guys with him to Wyoming after the 2013 season. That year was Riley's first with the program as he came to NDSU as the tight ends and fullbacks coach. He moved to the offensive line coach in 2014 and is also now the run game coordinator.
Riley is a passionate guy who can motivate a team. It wouldn't be hard for the Bison players to buy into his message when he's standing in the front of the room.
Current position: Wyoming Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/QBs Coach
Vigen is the most qualified candidate whose name will be brought up. The question is does he want to return to the FCS and NDSU?
His past suggests he'd at least consider it. Vigen is from Buxton, N.D. He played tight end for the Bison beginning in 1993 before starting his coaching career as an NDSU grad assistant in 1998. Vigen worked his way up from several position coaching gigs on staff until he was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at NDSU from 2009-13.
His wife Molly played basketball at NDSU.
Word is the Vigens really enjoy living in Laramie, Wyo. And being the associate head coach at an FBS school is just as good, if not better, pay and may lead to better head coaching opportunities in the future. But returning to your home state and leading your alma mater could be attractive.
Current position: Wyoming Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
Hazelton is in his second season as defensive coordinator at Wyoming. He was previously in the NFL as Jacksonville's assistant linebackers coach for three seasons under former NDSU assistant coach Gus Bradley.
Hazelton really got the NDSU defense rolling as a top unit in the FCS as the Bison's DC. He coached at NDSU from 2007-11 with the last two as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Hazelton left NDSU to become the linebackers coach at USC.
His name was brought up as a potential candidate when it was announced Bohl took the Wyoming job.
Current position: Iowa Offensive Line Coach
Polasek has a lot of green and gold pride and word is he'd be interested in putting his name in the hat. He's had two stints on NDSU's coaching staff, the first from 2006-12 as an offensive position coach and then as the Bison's OC and RBs coach for three seasons before leaving to Iowa for the 2017 season.
Polasek is a fiery guy who players seem to enjoy playing for. He may not necessarily have that "head coaching feel" to him, but he will no doubt get a look if he expresses interest.
Culture is a cheesy word that’s thrown around any locker room in sports. But few teams actually can say they have a legitimate winning culture in place like NDSU does. Things are done differently in Fargo. Players hold each other accountable and even hold the coaches accountable. You need the right personality on top to let the upperclassmen take the reigns when needed.
That’s why it’d be a surprise for the Bison to name a new head coach who hasn't been a part of that culture. However, there is a chance none of the Wyoming coaches are interested and Klieman could bring the top candidates at NDSU with him to Kansas State.
And there has been a name floating around the NDSU fan base for awhile if an outside hire were to happen.
Current position: South Dakota Head coach
Nielson has 26 years of head coaching experience but is rising quickly recently.
He was the head coach at D2 Minnesota-Duluth from 1999-2003 and 2008-2012, where he built the program into two-time D2 national champs in 2008 and 2010. Nielson then moved to the MVFC, taking the Western Illinois job from 2013-15 and led the Leathernecks from the bottom of the Valley to the playoffs in 2015.
He then took the South Dakota job in 2016 and improved the team from 4-7 to the program's first FCS playoff appearance in 2017.
Nielson's track record speaks for itself. The one concern would be just how fast he's looking to rise. There were reports that he was ready to accept the FBS Kent State opening after the 2017 season before Nielson denied the rumors and USD gave him a contract extension and raise.
Whoever takes over the NDSU job inherits a program that's built to win. It'll be hard to derail it. But constant coaching turnover in quick succession is one thing that slowly starts to decline a team.