Chris Klieman is well aware that Saturday's FCS national title game against Eastern Washington is his last as North Dakota State's head coach. He's well aware it's the last game for four of his assistants going with him to Kansas State. And he's well aware that this is the last time 24 seniors will suit up for the Bison.
While Klieman admits the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 championship games were equally memorable, he's going to soak this one in even more.
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"When you get to this time, and we've been here pretty frequently, you always cherish that time with your seniors," Klieman said at his Monday press conference. "They're such a special group of guys. Each year has been like that. And that's what you do as a coach in general no matter what anyone's circumstance is beyond the game is making sure you take the time and enjoy the time with the seniors. That's what I've tried to do over the last 10 days and will try to do the next five or six."
It's been a busy month since Klieman was named Kansas State's next head coach on Dec. 10. Since that time, he's secured his K-State recruiting class, put together his staff (including bringing along NDSU's OC Courtney Messingham, OL coach Conor Riley, WR coach Jason Ray and DB coach Joe Klanderman), flown back and forth from Manhattan and Fargo multiple times, supported NDSU's promotion of his defensive coordinator Matt Entz to be the Bison's next head coach, won a highly-anticipated semifinal game against rival South Dakota State and prepped for EWU this week and the previous two weeks.
For how unorthodox of a situation this is, which is basically Klieman running two Division I college football programs at the same time, it's been about as smooth as you can ask for on NDSU's and K-State's sides.
And even though there have been zero reports, talk or even rumors about any major conflict in the Bison coaching offices, Klieman addressed it unprompted at his press conference.
“Everything is great in the football office," he said. "Matt Entz and I are totally aligned with everything. Our wives are totally aligned. There's no rift. There's no issues. I know some people like drama. There is no drama."
Everything appears to be business as usual for the 14-0 Bison. It'll take a lot to derail this train, one that's been heading to a 2018 national title right after the Bison won the 2017 championship. NDSU has been the No. 1 team in the FCS by a wide margin all season and is a two-touchdown favorite against the Eagles.
Klieman has stated on multiple occasions this season "don't take it for granted" when talking about NDSU's run of six national titles in the last seven years. While winning championships has become almost a tradition for the Bison, winning it all the next year is never a guarantee.
And for Klieman, he knows there isn't a next year for him.
"Everybody in that locker room and everyone associated with the program, they realize how hard it is to do this on a yearly basis," Klieman said. "I know we've spoiled an awful lot of fans around here. But in the same respect, enjoy it. This is a blast. Everybody gets a chance to watch these seniors play one more time for the Bison. What a special group of guys. This is going to be the most special one for me because of this group and obviously because it’s my last one."
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