John Stiegelmeier retiring as Jackrabbits football coach

South Dakota State University football coach John Stiegelmeier announced his retirement Thursday, ending a 26-year coaching career with the Jackrabbits. Among his careers highlights was the most recent and biggest one of them all — winning the FCS national championship on Jan. 8. (Andrew Holtan/Brookings Register)

BROOKINGS – John Stiegelmeier is stepping down as the head coach of South Dakota State football after 26 years at the helm. Jimmy Rogers, who has been SDSU’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons and played for the Jackrabbits from 2006-09, will be his successor.

“(Wife) Laurie and I, with our family, want to thank South Dakota State University and SDSU Athletics for being blessed to serve as the head football coach," Stiegelmeier said in a statement released by the school on Thursday evening. "During our 26 years in this role, a lifetime of memories have occurred. The support of so many, including three university presidents, numerous assistant coaches, countless student-athletes, two athletic directors and the Jackrabbit fan base has been so special. Thank you to each and every one who have believed in us."

Stiegelmeier, who turns 66 next month, will finish his career as a Jackrabbit on top as SDSU won its first national championship in football on Jan. 8 when the Jacks defeated North Dakota State, 45-21. Stiegelmeier finished his career with a 199-112 record, which makes him the winningest coach in program history.

He began his career in 1997 when the Jacks were still in Division II and helped guide SDSU to Division I in 2004. Stiegelmeier’s team’s posted winning records 22 of his 26 seasons. The Selby native was named the 2022 AFCA National Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson award winner as the FCS Coach of the Year after leading the team to a 14-1 record and going 14-0 against FCS competition.

Stiegelmeier became a Jackrabbit in 1979 when he attended SDSU, but he did not play college football. He would then become the defensive backs coach for his alma mater in 1988 and was promoted to defensive coordinator under Mike Daly in 1991 before becoming the head coach in ’97.

"Simply put, South Dakota State University is a better place because of John and Laurie Stiegelmeier," said SDSU athletic director Justin Sell. "Their impact goes far beyond wins and losses or championships because of the family culture they have fostered throughout their time here, and by building a program based on character, hard work and excellence in all areas."

Rogers will be introduced as the 21st SDSU head football coach with press conference on Friday at 10 a.m. He was longest tenured assistant under Stiegelmeier as he just finished his 10th season of coaching at SDSU and was a captain of SDSU’s first playoff team in 2009.

Rogers led the SDSU defense in 2022 to a No. 1 ranking in rushing yards per game (88.1) and total interceptions (18), while the Jacks ranked third in scoring defense (15.8 points allowed per game). He was named the FCS Coordinator of the Year by this season.

"Jimmy Rogers upholds [the] same values [as Stiegelmeier] and I'm excited to see him move into this next phase of his coaching career,” Sell said. “His vision and plan for the future will allow us to continue to compete for national championships."

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