|Alma Mater:||University of Jamestown|
The 2018 season will be the fifth for head coach Bubba Schweigert. It will also be the beginning of a transition period for his program as the Fighting Hawks move from the Big Sky into a two-year stint as an FCS Independent before joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the 2020 season.
In addition to the beginning of the transition period, Schweigert would also like 2018 to serve as a bounce-back year after injuries took their toll on the roster and derailed a promising 2017 season that had UND pegged to repeat as Big Sky Champions, but ended in a 3-8 campaign. All was not lost, however, as the Fighting Hawks did post their first shutout during Schweigert's tenure with a 38-0 blanking of future MVFC foe Missouri State and recorded league wins against Northern Colorado and on the road at Portland State.
Junior running back John Santiago claimed All-America honors for the third consecutive season and was joined by four other Fighting Hawks in garnering All-Big Sky accolades. The Fighting Hawks also continued their success in the classroom, matching a program record by having 18 student-athletes named to the Big Sky All-Academic team.
Schweigert developed a nice pattern through his first three seasons as the head coach at North Dakota. Each year his squad produced more positive results than the previous one and 2016 was no exception as he was named the Big Sky and FCS Region 5 Coach of the Year.
The Fighting Hawks shared the Big Sky Conference regular season title with Eastern Washington, reeled off a 9-game winning streak and earned the No. 7 overall seed in the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs in 2016.
After losing the first two games of the season by a combined four points, a double-overtime victory against South Dakota launched UND into Big Sky play where the Fighting Hawks ran the table. There were tight games and lobsided games, but his team always found a way to come out on top in league play and give UND its first undefeated conference record since Dale Lennon's 2003 squad went 7-0 in North Central Conference play.
The defense was once again the top-rated run defense in the league and sixth in the FCS. The unit was also tops in the Big Sky with 20 interceptions and tied for second nationally, trailing only national champion James Madison in that category.
Four Fighting Hawks earned All-America accolades, including safety Cole Reyes, who landed on six different All-America squads. The junior captain was also named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. Reyes was one of 15 UND players to earn All-Big Sky honors on the field, while 18 set a program record by being named to the All-Big Sky Academic Team. Senior Brian Labat led those efforts in the classroom and also earned CoSIDA All-District 6 Team honors.
Schweigert wrapped up the 2015 season with what was the first three-game winning streak of his UND head-coaching tenure. Those three victories gave his second UND squad a 7-4 overall record and 5-3 mark in Big Sky play, which were both two-game improvements from his first season back in Grand Forks.
Schweigert's defense led the Big Sky in rushing defense for the second straight season under his watch and the offense improved immensely thanks in large part to the record-breaking production of true freshman running back John Santiago.
After a 4-3 start that included the program's first victory over an FBS opponent (24-13 win at Wyoming) and first DI victory over a ranked opponent on the road (19-17 win at No. 16 Portland State), the Fighting Hawks would go on to post the program's first seven-win season since 2011.
Santiago was named the Co-Big Sky Freshman of the Year and collected All-America honors from the Associated Press and STATS, Inc. He was also a unanimous All-Big Sky first team performer and was joined on that team by senior linebacker Will Ratelle and offensive lineman Sean Meehan, who was also named to the AFCA All-America Team.
Eight more Fighting Hawks would garner all-league honors in 2015 as the defense once again ranked among the tops in the Big Sky, ranking first in rush defense and second in total defense.
In the classroom, 17 UND football players were named to the All-Big Sky Academic Team, breaking the previous year's record by one.
In his first season back at UND, Schweigert's 2014 squad won five games overall, which was a two-game improvement from the previous season. The campaign was highlighted by a 30-28 upset of No. 22 Northern Arizona in the final home game of the season at the Alerus Center.
UND took the positive vibes from a victory that knocked NAU out of the FSC playoff hunt to Greely, Colo., the next Saturday where the team closed out the season with its first Big Sky road win of the season -- a 33-14 defeat of Northern Colorado.
The defensive-minded head coach still works with the team's cornerbacks and they were part of a unit that led the Big Sky in total defense and rush defense in 2014. Two newcomers earned All-Big Sky Conference honors (KR Alex Tillman and PK Reid Taubenheim) and seven more players were named honorable mention in Schweigert's first season.
There were also 16 UND football players named to the All-Big Sky Academic team, which tied a program record for individuals honored in one season.
The Zeeland, N.D., native returned to Grand Forks after 10 years away from a program that he helped lead to the 2001 NCAA Division II national title as defensive coordinator.
Prior to his return to UND, Schweigert was the defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois for the previous six seasons (2008-13) and served as associate head coach for the last five of that stretch. His 2010 defense led the Missouri Valley in total defense and his unit finished in the top half of the league in four of his six campaigns at SIU.
In his six seasons at SIU, Schweigert coached three first team All-Americans and 20 all-conference selections (10 first team, six second team, four honorable mentions). His defensive standouts have included linebacker and 2012 graduate Jayson DiManche, currently playing for Cincinnati Bengals, and cornerback Korey Lindsey, a three-time All-American and a 2011 draft pick of the Bengals. In 2013, SIU linebacker Bryan Presume earned first team All-MVFC honors after ranking third in the league with 104 tackles. His 55 solo stops were tops in the conference.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve the University of North Dakota as its head football coach,” said Schweigert at the time of his hiring. “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. We will put forth great effort to facilitate positive relations with fans, alumni, the community and the student body. 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.”
Prior to arriving at SIU, Schweigert took on his first head coaching job at the collegiate level, leading the Division II program at Minnesota Duluth from 2004-07. He guided the Bulldogs to a 22-21 overall record during his tenure, including the program's first North Central Conference title in 2005. The NCAA playoff berth that season was the program's second in four seasons. That same season, Schweigert was also named the D2football.com Northwest Region Coach of the Year and the AFCA Division II Coach of the Year for Region 5.
This will be the second stint at UND for Schweigert. He spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach in Grand Forks (1989-2003) where he was part of eight NCAA playoff teams and six NCC title squads.
Schweigert was elevated to defensive coordinator at UND prior to the 1997 season and left for Duluth after the 2003 UND team finished as national runner-up. Schweigert was named the American Football Coaches Association Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000.
In his seven seasons as UND's defensive coordinator, Schweigert's defensive players earned 14 All-America honors and 23 first-team All-NCC accolades. His 2001 defense yielded just 191.4 yards of offense and 50.3 rushing yards per game, while limiting opponents to 12.5 points per game on the way to the program's first national championship.
Schweigert began his coaching career at his alma mater, now the University of Jamestown, from 1985-1988. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Jamestown and a master's degree from UND. In 2002, he was honored with Jamestown's Rollie Greeno Award for outstanding commitment in the field of education and coaching.
Schweigert and his wife, Laura, have two sons, Alex and Cooper.
-- UND --