One of the most successful coaches at the FCS level is making the move up to replace one of the most beloved figures at the FBS level — albeit not immediately as he has some unfinished postseason business at his current school to take care of.
Monday night, Kansas State announced that Chris Klieman has been hired as the Wildcats’ as the football program’s 35th head coach. Klieman replaces the legendary Bill Snyder, who retired earlier this month after two separate stints at the school for a total of nearly three decades.
“I’m very excited to have Chris Klieman lead our program,” athletic director Gene Taylor said in a statement. “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.”
Klieman is in his fifth season as the head coach at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. In the first four seasons, the Bison claimed three national championships (2014, 2015, 2017) and advanced to the semifinals the other year (2016).
In 2018, North Dakota State is a perfect 13-0 and will face South Dakota State in one of the two semifinal matchups Friday night. Klieman will remain with the Bison through this year’s playoff run.
All told, the 51-year-old Klieman is 67-6 at North Dakota State.
“This is an absolute dream job,” a statement from Klieman began. “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.”
Per the school, Klieman has signed a six-year contract that will pay him $2.3 million in 2019. He will receive raises of $200,000 annually over the remaining five years of the deal.
Only Kansas’ David Beaty ($1.7 million), dismissed at the end of the regular season, made less than that figure in 2018 amongst Big 12 coaches. Snyder, at $3.5 million, was the next lowest.