This cycle of head coaching hires is going to be an interesting one to follow, with one of the more recent headlines coming from the Chris Klieman hiring.
The Kansas State Wildcats are going to have themselves an interesting off-season after its postseason matchup concludes. Kansas State’s legendary head coach Bill Snyder finally announced his retirement from the program heading into bowl season. A lot of the chatter around the national, and local to the Big 12, media surrounded the overdue retirement of Snyder since his effective grip on the program seemed to be slipping. To replace Snyder, Kansas State hired the former North Dakota State Bison head coach Chris Klieman.
This news is also big for the Texas football program. Kansas State is a program that played a key role in the Big 12 picture in football in the past decade. Texas and Kansas State finished in similar positions in the Big 12 standings at times in the past five years too.
Moreover, one of the most difficult places for Texas football to play since the turn of the century was Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS. The Texas Longhorns halted a more than 15-year skid in games against the Wildcats in Manhattan this year with a narrow 19-14 win at the beginning of conference play.
Kansas State was a thorn in the side of the Horns for the better part of the last decade and a half, especially in Manhattan. Bringing in a new head coach for Kansas State could change that narrative permanently. With the Horns head coach Tom Herman closing out his second year on the Forty Acres and bringing his program back to national relevance, we could be ushering in a new era of success against Kansas State.
However, as this news relates to the relevance of the entirety of the Power Five, it could have some big implications. Power Five programs don’t often hire head coaches from the FCS ranks. FCS programs usually don’t give head coaches the preparation levels required to handle most Power Five jobs without some other position to bridge in between.
You would have to consider Chris Klieman and North Dakota State an exception to the usual FCS head coaching narrative. Klieman carried a nearly spotless record of 67-6 in his time with North Dakota State. He also won three FCS National Championships in his four years coaching the Bison, previous to the 2018 campaign. A few other key accomplishments included conference titles in all five years as the head coach and the honors of winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference Coach of the Year Award for 2017.
Klieman also has coaching ties back to this region of the country, and specifically with the state of Kansas. He was the defensive backs coach for the Kansas Jayhawks back in 1997. The connections to a program like Kansas State weren’t too direct, but he has experience coaching in the region.
The coaching carousel gave us some interesting headlines so far this year. We haven’t even officially entered the off-season yet for half of the FBS and the Big 12 already has three new head coaches. Kansas State’s hiring of Chris Klieman could be indicative of a future trend of programs looking to contend in the Power Five by bringing aboard a successful head coach from the FCS ranks.