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College football: Former Winona State associate head coach Matt Entz a candidate for head coaching job at Division I FCS North Dakota State

December 12, 2018 GMT

Former Winona State football assistant coach Matt Entz may be a candidate to take over a Division I program.

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman announced Monday he would be leaving to take the head coaching job at Kansas State, and current defensive coordinator Entz — who was defensive coordinator and associate head coach at WSU from 2002-09 — is a candidate to take over head duties at NDSU.

“(Hiring an internal candidate) is certainly an option,” North Dakota State athletic Director Matt Larsen said at a press conference Tuesday. “We have a really talented staff. We want to hire the best possible person to come in here and take over the head coaching job at this program.”

NDSU has a history of hiring defensive-oriented head coaches. Klieman was the defensive coordinator for the Bison from 2012-13 and was defensive backs coach in 2011 before taking the head coaching job in 2014. Craig Bohl — currently head coach at Wyoming — was head coach at NDSu from 2003-13 and was a defensive backs coach at NDSU in 1984, before joining the defensive staff at Nebraska from 1995-2002. And Bob Babich — who coached the Bison from 1997-2002 — has been a defensive coach in the NFL since 2003, and is currently the linebackers coach for the Buffalo Bills.

“I think the one thing that is a little bit of an absolute — and it’s not my philosophy, it’s our football program’s philosophy — we’re going to run the ball, we’re going to play great defense,” Larsen said. “That’s been our recipe and if you look over our history we’ve had three losing seasons over the course of the last 60 or 70 years. That recipe has worked.”

He also could be in position to stay on Klieman’s staff and follow him to the Big 12. But it is unknown so far which members of the current staff will be retained at K-State.

“As you go through this process, we have some really great assistants,” KSU athletic director Gene Taylor said in a video on kstatesports.com. “All we told every candidate is look, we have some great staff. We encourage you to interview as many or all of them, whatever you feel your needs are, because obviously they have coaches they’re familiar with and coaches that they’ve coached with or people they’ve worked with that are maybe at other institutions.”

Whichever way it goes, the coaching hires should go quickly with the early signing period coming up next Wednesday. The programs will want their staffs settled in time to solidify their standing with recruits.

Entz was defensive coordinator on head coach Tom Sawyer’s staff at Winona State from 2002-09. He coached the defensive line from 2002-05, the linebackers from 2005-09, and was named associate head coach in 2003. He was named AFCA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008.

The Warriors qualified for the Division II Playoffs four times with Entz at defensive coordinator (2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007) with a combined record of 1-4. And earned a trip to the Mineral Water Bowl in 2002, losing to Emporia State 34-27 in overtime. Three of the four playoff losses came at the hands of NDSU rival North Dakota.

After WSU, Entz was the defensive line coach at Northern Iowa from 2010-11 and defensive coordinator from 2012-13.

His defenses have ranked in the top 5 in the FCS in points against each season since joining the program in 2014. The Bison won national championships in 2014, 2015, and 2017 and play in the FCS semifinals against South Dakota State on Friday.