North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman is finalizing a deal to become the next coach at Kansas State, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. Klieman would be hired amid a ridiculously successful run at North Dakota State, where he’s gone 67-6, won three national titles as head coach and is two victories away from winning another.
Klieman is considered an unconventional choice, as it has become increasingly rare for a Power Five program to pick a head coach from the FCS ranks. Along with his daunting record, there are other reasons this makes sense. Klieman has strong ties to Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, who came to Kansas State from North Dakota State. During Taylor’s stint at North Dakota State, he promoted Klieman to head coach after Craig Bohl left for Wyoming after the 2013 season.
While they play at different levels and leagues, the core of the Kansas State coaching job and North Dakota State job are similar – they require high-end player identification and development, which Klieman has shown a keen eye for at North Dakota State.
Expect Kansas State to play a pro-style offense predicated on running and controlling the ball, an antidote to the high-flying spread ethos of the Big 12. The other candidates that he beat out fit that high-scoring paradigm – Troy’s Neal Brown, North Texas’ Seth Littrell and Memphis coach Mike Norvell. This hire is a statement by Kansas State that they want to be different than the peers in their league.