BY JEREMY HOECK
It’s become an almost annual tradition: The Wednesday after National Signing Day, South Dakota State head football coach John Stiegelmeier visits the Yankton Quarterback Club luncheon.
And his speeches are becoming routine, as well: Recapping another run to the FCS national playoffs and another strong recruiting class.
Those were the two main topics in Stiegelmeier’s visit Wednesday, but as I detailed in a story, he also spent quite a bit of time talking about the facility upgrades in Brookings.
Many other issues were discussed and Stiegelmeier was asked a wide array of questions – one in particular: How many times a season do you wish you were back in Selby, sorting hay?
Yes, it’s always an interesting hour at Yankton Quarterback Club.
On the playoff loss to NDSU
Stiegelmeier called it “the toughest loss in my coaching career.” Said his coaches did a “phenomenal job preparing our players.”
The Jackrabbits took a 24-20 lead with 3 minutes and 18 seconds left in the game up in Fargo. North Dakota State, though, responded with a touchdown with a 54 seconds remaining.
On Kellen Soulek
The redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Freeman played in 12 games and recorded two sacks.
Stiegelmeier said he is proud of the Yankton High School graduate “in every phase of his life,” and that if Soulek stays on track he could be an All-Conference type player.
The coach also said he believes if Soulek played on the offensive side of the ball he could be a potential NFL prospect.
On 2015 recruiting class
Stiegelmeier said SDSU had 13 commitments by the end of the season, partially because of the rise of social media and high school players committing earlier and earlier.
With 21 scholarship and 19 non-scholarship players in the class, Stiegelmeier said if you line up every player, you couldn’t tell the difference.
On the new Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex (SJAC)
Stiegelmeier said officials from AstroTurf were in Brookings on Monday to discuss turf proposals for SDSU’s new outdoor football field.
The coach was later asked about his thoughts on grass vs. turf on the new field, and Stiegelmeier said, “I like grass, but I don’t like when a high school team plays on it on a Friday night and there’s two inches of rain.” Naturally, that tears up the field at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Stiegelmeier then said the turf eventually decided on will be soy-based, which he joked is SDSU “taking care of the ag community.”
On 1-year contracts in South Dakota
An issue that gets debated quite a bit is the state of South Dakota only offering year-to-year contracts for state employees. And Stiegelmeier’s first response? “Disappointing.”
South Dakota is the only state in the nation to have such a policy, but Stiegelmeier said he believes a change will eventually happen. The policy, he said, is “not a Division I mentality.”
One of the questions Stiegelmeier said he gets asked by every parent of a prospective recruit is, “Will you be there for my son?’” And as you can imagine, that’s hard to answer when you’re not on a long-term contract.
Though, as the coach joked, “Just keep winning and you’ll have a job.”