Kansas State University

North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman expects a decision from K-State soon

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman and his team. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman and his team. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy) AP

North Dakota State football coach Chris Klieman expects to hear something definitive about his candidacy for the vacant Kansas State coaching position over the next 24 hours.

“I will learn more about it today, tonight or tomorrow,” Klieman said Monday at his weekly news conference in Fargo, N.D.

Over the weekend, Klieman said he interviewed for the job with K-State athletic director Gene Taylor. They discussed the position on Thursday. He was not offered the job and hasn’t received an update since.

But he thinks that will change in the near future.

“I don’t know what their process is and I can’t answer or speak to that,” Klieman said. “Once again, what I did on Thursday, I thought I did a nice job and we’ll find out probably over the next 24 hours.”

Klieman said he has already spoken to his team about the uncertainty surrounding his coaching future and doesn’t plan to do so again until he receives news from the Wildcats.

He expects to coach North Dakota State when the Bison take on South Dakota State later this week.

Klieman is considered a leading candidate to replace retired K-State football coach Bill Snyder because of the incredible success he has experienced with the Bison. He has guided them to a 67-6 record and three FCS national championships since becoming the head coach five seasons ago.

His team recently defeated Colgate 35-0 to advance to the semifinal round of the FCS playoffs. North Dakota State is off to a 13-0 start.

Taylor and Klieman also have history together. When Taylor was the athletic director at North Dakota State, he promoted Klieman from defensive coordinator to head coach after Craig Bohl left for Wyoming.

Klieman took over a FCS juggernaut good enough to beat K-State in 2013 and has since made it even better. North Dakota State is viewed as the nation’s premier FCS team, producing NFL stars like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

K-State fans have expressed some concerns about Klieman, though. Many of them turned to social media and message boards last week to voice their displeasure over the prospect of hiring a FCS coach last week.

It is a difficult label for some to overcome.

Few coaches have made the jump straight from FCS to a power conference without first proving himself at a lower-tier FBS university. The ones that have produced mixed results.

Terry Allen (Northern Iowa to Kansas) and Paul Wulff (Eastern Washington to Washington State) were failed experiments. But Jim Tressel (Youngstown State to Ohio State), Frank Beamer (Murray State to Virginia Tech) and Jim Harbaugh (San Diego to Stanford) made their new schools look smart for taking a chance on them.

The only other coach believed to be seriously in the mix for K-State’s football opening is Troy’s Neal Brown.

A source said Taylor interviewed Brown early last week and walked away from the meeting impressed. His name gained momentum over the weekend after North Texas coach Seth Littrell removed his name from consideration.

Brown led Troy to a 9-3 record this season and appears to be one of the rising coaches in the Sun Belt Conference. He has gone 34-16 with Troy, and he can lead the team to its third consecutive season of 10-plus victories with a win in the Dollar General Bowl later this month.

Throw in recent high-profile wins over LSU and Nebraska, and he has a strong resume that has made him a candidate for several openings. Brown makes a salary of $810,000 at Troy. His buyout is nearly $3 million, according to USA Today.

One coach who no longer appears to be involved is Memphis’ Mike Norvell. The Wildcats had reportedly shown interest in him, but he said Monday that he is happy with the Tigers.

“Stop the speculating that I’m going anywhere else,” Norvell wrote on Twitter. “I told you I have one of the BEST jobs in the country and I love me some #Memphis.”

Norvell has gone 26-13 at Memphis over three seasons. That’s the most wins of any coach over a three-year span at the school. Norvell, 37, guided Memphis to an 8-5 record this year. He is the highest-paid coach outside of the Power Five conferences with a salary of $2.6 million.

Taylor, speaking at K-State’s football banquet on Sunday, said the last week has been stressful. He is still working toward making a hire.

“I’m going to do everything I can,” Taylor said, “to make sure we make a decision that’s in the best interest of this football program.”

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Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. A winner of more than a dozen national writing awards, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.