Photo By Darren Gibbins
In the 39 years since 1979, there have been six head football coaches at North Dakota State. Of those six, five won national championships. Four of the six won at least two national championships. In total, the Bison have 11 national titles between 1983 and 2017, and, of course, are playing for their seventh championship in eight years on January 5 against Eastern Washington in Frisco, Texas. NDSU plays in the toughest conference in the FCS, the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison have won a remarkable eight straight conference championships. In those eight years going back to 2011, NDSU has the most wins in college football, posting an unprecedented 111–8 record that includes six national titles, going on seven. Some programs talk about tradition and history. NDSU has a championship pedigree with few, if any, equals in college football.
Into that history and tradition steps Matt Entz, the program’s next head football coach. Entz has been a Bison since 2014 when he was named NDSU’s defensive coordinator. In those five years, Entz’s “Code Green” defense has been one of the most dominating units in the FCS. The Bison have allowed less than 14 points per game each season since Entz arrived and consistently rank in the Top 5 for a myriad of defensive statistics, including scoring defense and total defense. “I am unbelievably excited to get going and start the process of becoming the next head football coach at NDSU,” said Entz, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, who began his coaching career at Illinois College in 1998.
This will be Entz’s first head coaching job. He’s proved his mettle after spending 21 years as an assistant coach, with 15 of those coming as a defensive coordinator and eight spent as an associate head coach in two programs. “Having watched Matt as the defensive coordinator for the past five years, I knew he possessed the qualities to be the head football coach at North Dakota State: leadership, integrity, toughness and a sincere appreciation for the history and tradition of Bison football,” explained Matt Larsen, NDSU director of athletics. The image from Entz’s introductory press conference as the new head coach was a memorable one as he sat flanked by Larsen and NDSU President Dean Bresciani. The image speaks volumes, conveying the dual messages of unity and confidence, reverberating across the college football landscape. Any hope the rest of the FCS harbored that NDSU might lose a step was quickly put to rest. The Bison aren’t going anywhere.
“Whether it’s our student-athletes, our coaches, our university’s administration or our fans, it’s hard to imagine a candidate who would have the breadth of support with which I know Matt will be greeted as our new head coach,” said Bresciani. Like Bresciani, the praise was quick, and unanimous, from a trio of former Bison defenders – Kyle Emanuel, Nick DeLuca and Chris Board – all coached by Entz, all playing in the NFL. “Coach Entz is a class act individual who guys will love playing for,” said Emanuel, a linebacker in his fourth season with the Los Angeles Chargers. Emanuel won the Buck Buchanan Award as the best defensive player in the FCS under Entz. “He understands the traditions of NDSU and how special of a place it is. He was hands down one of my favorite coaches and does an unbelievable job mentoring and teaching his players. Any college football player would be lucky to call him their head coach.”
DeLuca agreed. In his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, DeLuca said the future is bright under Entz. “He cares about you as a person. This is an exciting time and the future is bright for Bison football under the direction of Coach Entz.” Board chimed in via Twitter with the “Horns Up” emoji and a hearty congratulations.
For his part, Entz not only understands the importance of NDSU’s culture and rich history; he’s lived it. He’s breathed it. He’s walked the walk. Go back and watch his interview after last year’s 17–13 win over James Madison in the national championship behind the end zone stands at Toyota Stadium during the celebration. The guy is a Bison’s Bison, an NDSU guy through-and-through. Like Emanuel and DeLuca testified, Entz cares about this university, this program and its players – past and present. During his introductory press conference, listen to the emotion in his voice as Entz described the program, what being a Bison means to him and in thanking his family, wife Brenda and sons Kellen and Konner who watched nearby from the first row. “I believe in who we are,” began Entz, in explaining his approach. “The things that made our football program special will not change.”
For many reasons, being the head coach at North Dakota State is one of the most coveted jobs in college football and unquestionably the best job in the FCS. We take our football seriously here. It’s a big part of this region’s collective identity and a tremendous source of pride. The Bison enjoy support at a level greater than most FBS programs, including our neighbors to the east. The fanbase is recognized as one of the best in college football. Here’s how Kellis Robinett described it. Robinett is a writer for The Wichita Eagle newspaper in Wichita, Kansas. He was in town to cover the South Dakota State semifinal game and provide his readers a glimpse into what NDSU is all about. “Everything about North Dakota State, from the sellout crowds to the sprawling tailgate scene, screams big-time football.” Robinett is right. This is big-time football, and we’ve got the right man as our next head coach.
Bison Illustrated congratulates President Bresciani and Mr. Larsen, and their staffs, on a tremendous process that culminated in the hiring of Matt Entz as our next head football coach. We extend our best wishes and congratulations to Coach Entz and his family. As we’re fond of saying, “The strength of the Herd is the Bison, and the strength of the Bison is the Herd.” We got the right Bison leading our Herd. The future is bright for NDSU.
Everybody up for the kickoff, the march is on!