South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier, one of the most accomplished coaches in FCS football, announced his retirement on Thursday. Stiegelmeier will exit 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'll be replaced as head coach by defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers, who will be introduced at a news conference Friday.
Stiegelmeier, 65, finishes as the AFCA national coach of the year and having led South Dakota State to the FCS playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons. He finishes his career with a 199-112 record, capping his career with a 14-1 season and 14-game wins streak. Stiegelmeier began his career as a student assistant there in 1979 and then returned as an assistant coach in 1988 and eventually took over as head coach in December of 1996.
"Laurie and I, with our family, want to thank South Dakota State University and SDSU Athletics for being blessed to serve as the head football coach,'' Stiegelmeier said, referring to his wife. "During our 26 years in this role, a lifetime of memories have occurred. The support of so many, including three university presidents, numerous assistant coaches, countless student-athletes, two athletic directors and the Jackrabbit fan base has been so special. Thank you to each and every one who have believed in us.''
The hiring of Rogers, 35, is a sign of continuity in the program, which thumped 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 consecutive games.
Rogers is a South Dakota State graduate, former star player there and got 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. With Rogers being promoted, it will help keep in place a roster and staff in Brookings, S.D., that's expected to be the heavy favorite in FCS next season. South Dakota State expects to return 18 starters from the juggernaut 2022 title team.
Rogers' defense proved a linchpin of the title team this year, as South Dakota State finished in the Top 3 in the FCS in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense. South Dakota State stymied Iowa's offense in the opener this year, as the Hawkeyes won 7-3 after scoring one field goal and two safeties. That proved to be the only loss of the season for South Dakota State.
Among the 18 returning starters for Rogers' first season include sophomore quarterback Mark Gronowski, the Most Outstanding Player in the title game, and star junior tailback Isaiah Davis (1,478 yards, 15 touchdowns). Star junior linebacker Adam Bock, who finished with 76 tackles and 7.5 TFLs, will lead an experience defense. Guard Mason McCormick is a returning first-team FCS All-American on the AFCA's 2022 team.
Stiegelmeier will leave a vast legacy at the school, capped by the national title this season.
"Simply put, South Dakota State University is a better place because of 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.''