South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier, one of FCS football’s most accomplished coaches, announced his retirement on Thursday. Stiegelmeier will come out on top, as South Dakota State won the school’s first-ever national title in Stiegelmeier’s 26th and final season as head coach.
He will be replaced as head coach by defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers, who will be introduced at a press conference on Friday.
Stiegelmeier, 65, finishes as the AFCA National Coach of the Year and has led South Dakota State to the FCS playoffs for 11 consecutive seasons. He finished his career with a 199-112 record, capping his career with a 14-1 season and a 14-game winning streak. Stiegelmeier began his career as a student assistant there in 1979, then returned as assistant coach in 1988 and finally took over as head coach in December 1996.
“Laurie and I, along with our family, would like to thank South Dakota State University and SDSU Athletics for being given the opportunity to be the head football coach,” Stiegelmeier said, referring to his woman. “During our 26 years in this role, a lifetime of memories have taken place. The support of so many people, including three college presidents, numerous assistant coaches, countless student-athletes, two athletic directors and the Jackrabbit’s fan base has been so special. Thank you to everyone who believed in us.”
The hiring of Rogers, 35, is a sign of continuity in the program, which beat North Dakota State, 45-21, in the FCS Championship game earlier this month. Rogers will be tasked with modernizing the program to keep it atop the FCS, as the Jackrabbits have beaten North Dakota State in four straight games.
Rogers graduated from South Dakota State, a former star player there and was promoted to assistant head coach after the 2019 season. He played for Stiegelmeier, started his career as a graduate assistant there and worked his way up to defensive coordinator through various staff positions. Along with Rogers’ promotion, that will help keep a roster and personnel in place at Brookings, SD, which is expected to be FCS’ heavy favorite next season. South Dakota State plans to fire 18 starters from the 2022 juggernaut’s title team.
Rogers’ defense proved to be the linchpin of the title team this year, as South Dakota State finished in the FCS Top 3 in total defense, defense against goals and defense against precipitation. South Dakota State thwarted Iowa’s offense in Game 1 this year, as the Hawkeyes won 7-3 after scoring a field goal and two safeties. It turned out to be the only loss of the season for South Dakota State.
Among Rogers’ 18 returning first-season starters are sophomore quarterback Mark Gronowski, the title game’s most outstanding player, and star junior halfback Isaiah Davis (1,478 yards, 15 hits). Star junior linebacker Adam Bock, who finished with 76 tackles and 7.5 TFL, will lead an experienced defense. Guard Mason McCormick is a returning FCS All-American on the 2022 AFCA team.
Stiegelmeier will leave a huge legacy at the school, crowned by the national title this season.
“Put simply, South Dakota State University is a better place thanks to John and Laurie Stiegelmeier,” athletic director Justin Sell said. “Their impact goes far beyond wins and losses or championships because of the family culture they have fostered throughout their time here, and by building a program based on character, hard work and excellence in all areas.”
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