At the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Nashville, FCA honored South Dakota State University head football coach John Stiegelmeier with the 2016 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award.
“Fellowship of Christian Athletes is honored to recognize Coach John Stiegelmeier, who has impacted countless players over his successful career,” said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “We congratulate ‘Coach Stig’ for not only his accomplishments on the field, but also for the way he has touched the lives of innumerable young athletes as he glorifies God through the game of football.”
John Stiegelmeier has built the SDSU program into a yearly contender within the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). He led the Jackrabbits to an 8-3 overall record during the regular season and their first Missouri Valley Football Conference championship with a 7-1 mark in league play. Now in his 20th season as head coach, Stiegelmeier is the winningest coach in program history with a 136-93 record. SDSU made its fifth consecutive appearance in the FCS playoffs and sixth overall since 2009.
During his tenure at SDSU, Stiegelmeier has earned coach of the year honors in three different conferences. He previously was honored as North Central Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and Great West Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2007. Under Stiegelmeier’s guidance, SDSU has appeared in the FCS rankings nine of the last 10 seasons, first cracking the national poll in 2006.
In addition to achieving success on the field, Stiegelmeier’s teams have excelled in the classroom. SDSU has earned the Missouri Valley Football Conference Team Academic Award each year since joining the league in 2008. The Jackrabbits have consistently led their conference in the number of individual all-academic awards, with football student-athletes accounting for Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors 21 times during Stiegelmeier’s tenure.
The Selby, S.D., native first became acquainted with the Jackrabbit football program as a student assistant under John Gregory during SDSU’s only NCAA Division II playoff season in 1979. After graduating from SDSU with degrees in mathematics and physical education, Stiegelmeier enrolled in graduate school at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served on the coaching staff. Stiegelmeier also coached at Eau Claire (Wis.) North High School from 1981-1984, then returned to his home state as defensive coordinator, secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Northern State from 1984-1987.
“We congratulate ‘Coach Stig’ for not only his accomplishments on the field, but also for the way he has touched the lives of innumerable young athletes as he glorifies God through the game of football.” -FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson
Stiegelmeier returned to his alma mater in July 1988, joining Wayne Haensel’s SDSU coaching staff as secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. After Haensel stepped down following the 1990 season, Stiegelmeier was elevated to defensive coordinator by new head coach Mike Daly. In six seasons as defensive coordinator, Stiegelmeier helped guide the Jackrabbits to a 41-23 record. SDSU turned in a winning record all six seasons, including five seven-win seasons. That track record of success helped Stiegelmeier secure his first collegiate head coaching position in December 1996, when he was named Daly’s successor.
Said T.J. Carlson, South Dakota State’s FCA team chaplain, “‘Coach Stig’ came to Christ at an FCA Camp as a coach. Since then, he and his wife have pledged to say ‘yes’ to FCA as long as their schedule allows. He helps with camps, speaking engagements, is an FCA donor, FCA faculty representative at SDSU and also serves on the FCA State Board of Directors. I’ve served as the team chaplain for the Jackrabbits for seven seasons … (Stiegelmeier) treats me like a staff member and desires to have a Christ-centered culture as part of the Jackrabbit football family. He really is the ‘face’ of FCA in the state of South Dakota and has touched thousands for Christ, especially the men who are part of the Jackrabbit football family.”
Added former player Cam Jones, “Looking back over my 4.5 years at SDSU, I know that there truly is no other place that I would rather play than SDSU because of Coach Stig. He has always been a leader in my life, not only on the field, but off it. He challenged me not only between the lines of the football field, but in my everyday, every minute walk with Christ. He boldly professes his faith every fall camp to our team and truly lives out what it means to be a Christ follower. Whenever we ask him if he would do something for FCA, the only time he says no is if there is a scheduling conflict in which he (almost always) tries to move things around to make whatever we need work. He coaches with heart and passion but only in a manner that he knows would be honoring to God. Coach Stig has impacted my life and hundreds of others more truly for the Glory of God.”
Named after Grant Teaff, former Baylor University coach, AFCA executive director and Trustee Emeritus of the FCA Board of Trustees, the Coach of the Year Award presented by FCA recognizes a football coach who exemplifies Christian principles and who is involved in FCA. The award is also based on the success and performance of the coach’s team that season. Previous winners include UNC’s Larry Fedora (2015), Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (2014), Hugh Freeze (2013), Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville and Jerry Kill.