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UND strongly prefers football coach candidates with "NFL playing or coaching experience"

by Mike McFeely

Maybe the University of North Dakota is trying to attract Tim Brewster?

UND posted its job opening for football coach this week and, as the Grand Forks Herald pointed out , there are a couple of interesting nuggets.

Tim Tibesar (Photo courtesy Chicago Bears)

Among them is the minimum starting base salary of $150,000, which is significantly more than the fired Chris Mussman made. According to a Forum Communications Co. survey of college coaching salaries in August, Mussman had a base salary of about $120,000.

If UND expects to be competitive in FCS and the Big Sky Conference, it needed to bump up the salary of its head football coach. A $150,000 base salary will push the football coach past the women's hockey coach (Brian Idalski, $121,500) in the income department.

 Brooks Bollinger (Photo courtesy University of Pittsburgh)

Perhaps just as interesting to me, however, is one of the "preferred qualifications," listed secondarily under the "minimum qualifications." The job description says:

  • NFL playing or coaching experience is strongly preferred 

  • The Tim Brewster crack, of course, was directed at the former coach of the Minnesota Gophers, who was sold to the maroon and gold faithful as, in part, having NFL experience. He was an assistant with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. That didn't work out so well.

    The Herald writer, as many UND fans have done, speculated that opens the door for favorite sons of UND/Grand Forks like Brooks Bollinger or Tim Tibesar to become the next head coach. 

    Bollinger is a former NFL quarterback who played college ball at Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Grand Forks Central High School whose dad is a former assistant at UND. Bollinger is currently in his second year as quarterbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Tibesar is another coach with UND ties. He was a star linebacker for UND and was an assistant coach under ex-head coach Dale Lennon. He was also an assistant at Kansas State and Purdue. He's currently linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears.

    Couple of points:

    I find the idea Bollinger would be ready to be a Division I head coach laughable. He is 34 years old and has been a college position assistant coach for two years. That is not a resume to be a head coach in the Northern Sun Conference, much less a rebuilding Division I job. He might be great coach eventually, but if you want to become a major player in the Big Sky, do you want to entrust that job to a "kid" whose biggest selling point is that he's from Grand Forks and played in the NFL?

    Tibesar has a much heavier resume and would seem a more logical choice than Bollinger.

    He might be the next UND coach. Who knows? But I do know that Tibesar is currently in the NFL, in his first year on a staff that is having success. I also know once a coach gets his foot in the NFL -- we're talking the N-F-freakin'-L here -- it is awfully difficult to leave that behind to take a college job, much less a college job at the FCS level. Even if it is your alma mater. 

    Think about it: Tibesar has joined The Club. He's in. If things continue to go well, he has jobs for life. Heck, Bob Babich has been employed and nicely-paid in the NFL since bolting NDSU after the 2002 season. He rode his connections to Lovie Smith for a decade and now he's riding his connection to Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. In a world where WHO you know is just as important was WHAT you know, Tibesar is making important relationships every day.

    And, yes, Brewster left the NFL for a college head coaching job. I realize that. I'll ask the same question as earlier: How did that work?

    There's also this: For Tibesar to take the job, he'd have to leave the Bears right now. He couldn't wait until after the NFL season because important recruiting is happening NOW. If UND was to wait until after the NFL season to hire Tibesar, it might be waiting until mid-January (if the Bears make the playoffs). Then Tibesar would have to assemble a staff. Then they'd have to hit the recruiting trail. 

    College football signing day is Feb. 5, 2014. UND would have a class of 2 to announce to the world.

    I just don't see Tibesar being the next coach at UND. I'll stick with my first opinion on the next coach at UND: It will be somebody very few people in Grand Forks have heard of.

    UPDATE: Over at the Sioux Football Insider blog, they've compiled a nice comprehensive list of possible candidates. Good stuff: Profiling Potential Candidates.

    (Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)