After 199 victories, 12 postseason appearances and a national championship, South Dakota State’s John Stiegelmeier is hanging up his whistle. Stiegelmeier announced his retirement Thursday afternoon, ending a 26-year run leading the football program at his alma mater.“(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. “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.”
Longtime assistant coach and current defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers will succeed Stiegelmeier as head coach, SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell also announced Thursday. Rogers will be introduced as the 21st head coach of the Jackrabbit football program at a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday. Live coverage of the press conference will be available through the SDSU Athletics YouTube channel, as well as on the flagship station of the Jackrabbit Sports Network, WNAX 570 AM.
“Simply put, South Dakota State University is a better place because of John and Laurie Stiegelmeier,” Sell said. “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.”Sell continued: “Jimmy Rogers upholds those same values and I’m excited to see him move into this next phase of his coaching career. His vision and plan for the future will allow us to continue to compete for national championships.”
The winningest coach in program history, Stiegelmeier compiled a 199-112 record (.640 winning percentage) from 1997-2022. The Jackrabbits competed at the NCAA Division II level before embarking on a move to NCAA Division I and the Football Championship Subdivision in 2004.
Overall, Stiegelmeier’s teams posted winning records in 22 of his 26 seasons. The Jackrabbits began their current streak of 11 consecutive Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances in 2012, and advanced to at least the semifinal round in five of the last six seasons. SDSU made two appearances in the FCS national title game, falling to Sam Houston, 23-21, during the 2020-21 spring season and defeating archrival North Dakota State, 45-21, earlier this month in Frisco, Texas.
In 15 seasons competing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Jackrabbits never finished below .500 in league play. Stiegelmeier led SDSU to an 84-34 record (.712 winning percentage) in MVFC games and claimed league titles in 2016, 2020-21 and 2022. The Jackrabbits earned their first outright MVFC title in 2022 as they completed a perfect 8-0 mark in league play as part of a school-record 14-game winning streak they will carry into next season.Stieglemeier’s 84 wins in MVFC play, as well as his 131 overall wins since joining the league in 2008, both rank second in league history. He was named the Bruce Craddock MVFC Coach of the Year in both 2016 and 2022, and also was honored as the winner of the 2022 Eddie Robinson Award by Stats Perform and as the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year for FCS.
Prior to joining the MVFC, Stiegelmeier’s 2007 squad won the Great West Football Conference title, marking the Jackrabbits’ first conference title in football in 44 years. Two seasons later, SDSU made its first appearance in the FCS playoffs.
Besides excelling on the field, Stiegelmeier’s teams also made their mark in the classroom and in the community. SDSU received the MVFC Team Academic Award nine times and Jackrabbit student-athletes combined to receive Academic All-America honors 31 times during his tenure. In addition, four Jackrabbit standouts were selected as Campbell Trophy finalists and three were named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
A Selby native, Stiegelmeier has been associated with Jackrabbit football for more than 35 years, starting as a student assistant under John Gregory on SDSU’s lone NCAA Division II playoff-qualifying team in 1979. He returned to Brookings in 1988, joining Wayne Haensel’s coaching staff as secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. After Haensel stepped down following the 1990 season, Stiegelmeier was elevated to defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Daly, a position he held until being hired as head coach in December 1996.
“I want to thank John and Laurie for all that they have done for South Dakota State University during a career that has spanned more than three decades,” said SDSU President Barry Dunn. “Coach Stig’s record will speak for itself and winning a national championship in his final game is a storybook ending to an amazing career. More importantly, he positively impacted hundreds of young men and pushed them to be successful in the classroom, on the field and in life. He did this by exemplifying the core values of our university every day. Coach Stig’s legacy is one of greatness and those who were fortunate to be around him have benefited from how he lives and his ability to be a positive influence on everyone.”
Rogers played under Stiegelmeier from 2006-09 and was the longest-tenured assistant on the Jackrabbits’ 2022 coaching staff as he completed his 10th season. In his lone season as the team’s sole defensive coordinator, the Jackrabbits led the FCS ranks in both rushing defense (88.1 yards allowed per game) and total interceptions (18), while ranking third in scoring defense (15.8 points per game).
Throughout his time on the Jackrabbit coaching staff, Rogers has mentored the team’s linebackers and coached a trio of All-Americans in Christian Rozeboom, Logan Backhaus and Adam Bock. Rogers shared defensive coordinator duties from 2019-21 and added the role of assistant head coach after the 2019 campaign.
Rogers was honored recently as the 2022 FCS Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com, and also was selected to participate in the AFCA’s 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute.
As a player, Rogers was a two-time all-conference selection at linebacker. He led the team and Great West Football Conference with 110 tackles in 2007 en route to first-team honors and again led the squad with 93 tackles in earning second-team all-MVFC accolades. Rogers was a captain on the Jackrabbits’ first FCS playoff team in 2009 as he finished his four-year career with 312 tackles in 46 games.