Kansas State chooses North Dakota State's Chris Klieman to be new head coach


Kansas State has named North Dakota State's Chris Klieman the new coach of the Wildcats, replacing the legendary Bill Snyder. The six-year contract for Klieman will start with a base salary of $2.3 million in 2019 with a $200,000 increase each year.

"This is an absolute dream job," Klieman said in a release "I'm so happy and thrilled to follow a legend in Coach Snyder. I've followed him from afar, went to his camps while playing in Waterloo, Iowa, and played against his Kansas State team when I was at Northern Iowa. The opportunity to follow in an icon's footsteps is something I don't take for granted and don't take lightly. I know I have huge shoes to fill, and I'm excited to carry on his legacy. I have prepared my entire life for this opportunity and had great experiences at many institutions, most notably North Dakota State where we've had unmatched success over the last eight years. I can't express how pleased I am and thank President Myers, Gene Taylor and the search committee for trusting in me and handing over the keys to this great program."

Klieman is 67-6 in six seasons as the head coach of the Bison and won three FCS national championships (2014, 2015 and 2017). He was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2017 and is 13-0 this season after a 35-0 win over Colgate in the FCS quarterfinals on Saturday. 

"I'm very excited to have Chris Klieman lead our program," athletic director Gene Taylor said. "He is a perfect fit for us, both from a personal standpoint and as a head coach. He's a tremendous teacher who I had the pleasure to hire at NDSU and watched him turn into a very successful coach. He will bring a ton of energy and excitement. His teams play extremely hard, disciplined football. He's a winner. That's all he does is win, and we're excited to have Chris, Rhonda and the entire Klieman family join our K-State family. They will be a great fit not only for Kansas State Football and Kansas State Athletics, but also the entire community of Manhattan."

Snyder announced his retirement on Dec. 2. The legendary coach was 215-117-1 in two stints with the Wildcats.

Taylor moved quickly to find Snyder's replacement. A day after that retirement, per CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd's sources, Troy coach Neal Brown interviewed for the job. Klieman said on Monday he had interviewed for the job last Thursday. Earlier Monday, Memphis coach Mike Norvell took his name out of the running.

There was immediate pushback on social media from some Kansas State fans who wanted a higher-profile name. Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt was a popular choice but was seemingly never a serious candidate.

For those who decry an FCS coach taking over at a Power Five, there have been five coaches who have jumped from an FCS program to a Power Five job this century. They have achieved mixed results.

CoachFCS SchoolRecordPower Five SchoolRecord

Jim Tressel

Youngstown State


Ohio State


Jim Harbaugh

San Diego




Mike London





Bobby Johnson





Paul Wulff

Eastern Washington


Washington State


Klieman played defensive back at Northern Iowa from 1986-90 prior to beginning his coaching career as the school's defensive backs coach from 1991-93. He returned to Northern Iowa in the same role from 2006-10. His coaching career has taken him to Western Illinois (1994-96), Kansas (1997), Missouri State (1999) and Loras College (2002-05). He was the head coach of Loras during his last season with the program.

Klieman's arrival to Manhattan will signal a change in how the Wildcats operate offensively. Klieman ran more of a traditional pro-style scheme at North Dakota State, which was a staple of the program when Klieman was an assistant under former coach Craig Bohl. That system helped former Bison quarterback Carson Wentz prepare for the NFL. Wentz was selected second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft after four seasons with the Bison -- the final two of which he started under center. If Klieman stays true to that brand of offense with the Wildcats, it will be a bit of an outlier in the more wide open Big 12. 

Klieman will be introduced as the Kansas State coach at a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan. North Dakota State will host South Dakota State in the FCS semifinals on Friday night, and Klieman is expected to be on the sideline. If the Bison win, they'll advance to the FCS Championship Game on Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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