UND welcomes ‘Bubba’

Kyle ‘Bubba’ Schweigert welcomed as new head football coach for North Dakota.

Kyle ‘Bubba’ Schweigert speaks at a press conference on Dec. 27 after he was hired as UND’s new football coach. Photo courtesy of UND Athletics.

After a disappointing season that saw the exit of longtime head coach Chris Mussman, the UND football team’s search for a new leader ended Dec. 22 when UND Athletics Director Brian Faison formally welcomed and introduced Kyle Schweigert as the 26th head coach in UND football history.

Schweigert, affectionately known as “Bubba,” is a native of Zeeland, N.D., and previously served as UND’s defensive coordinator 10 years ago and helped the Green and White to an NCAA Division II championship in 2001.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve the University of North Dakota as its head football coach,” Schweigert said when he was hired. “I am looking forward to hiring a staff and building a program that will represent UND in a first-class manner, both on and off the field.”

Schweigert is no stranger to Grand Forks or UND Football as he spent 15 seasons  — 1989 to 2003 — with a program that made the NCAA playoffs eight times and won six conference titles during his tenure.

“We will put forth great effort to facilitate positive relations with fans, alumni, the community and the student body,” Schweigert added. “We look forward to playing exciting championship football in front of thousands of loyal fans as we strive to win the Big Sky Conference championship and, ultimately, reach the pinnacle of FCS football.”

Before starting his second run with North Dakota, Schweigert served as the defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois from 2008 until the end of the 2013 season, while also serving as the associate head coach for the last five of those years.

After being hired, one of Schweigert first jobs was to build a solid staff.

Schweigert said he wanted people on his staff who saw UND as a special place. He hired North Dakota native Eric Schmidt as the defensive coordinator and UND alum Joel Schwenzfeier as the outside linebackers assistant coach.

“UND is a special place, and I am really excited to get back there,” Schmidt said. “I really appreciate the opportunity Coach Schweigert has given me. I am anxious to get started and make a difference. I think that is really what sold me on coming back. I am eager to get things started and move forward.”

In addition, Schweigert hired Moorhead, Minn. native Shawn Kostich as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.

Former Sacramento State defensive line coach Jordan Gigli was hired to the same position at UND, and Marty Rodgers was hired as defensive backs coach.

Former Minot State coach Paul Rudolph was hired as the offensive coordinator.

Having coached against Schweigert in the past, Rudolph says he is excited to be working with the program.

“They were always extremely well prepared,” he said. “They played passionately, and they played hard.”

Schmidt says the coaching staff plans to take things one day at a time.

“Any time you want to talk about championships, you have to be willing to put in the work,” he said. “That’s really going to be our model from day one. We are going to take it day by day, one lift at a time.”

In his time at SIU, Schweigert coached three first team All-Americans and had 20 All-Conference selections under his guidance. His squad’s total defensive numbers finished in the top half of the Missouri Valley Conference in four of his six seasons with the team.

Prior to Southern Illinois, Schweigert had his first head coaching job with Minnesota Duluth from 2004 to 2007 and went 21-20 while leading the program to its first North Central Conference title in 2005.

Schweigert holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Jamestown University and a master’s degree from UND. He comes to Grand Forks with a wife, Laura, and two children, Alex and Cooper.

David Butz and Mathew McKay are staff writers for The Dakota Student. They can be reached at [email protected]