It's safe to say that the 2010 season was a disappointment for South Dakota State. After earning their first FCS playoff berth in 2009, the Jackrabbits had hoped to take another step forward as a program. The team did show flashes, particularly by winning five of their last seven games. It was the 0-4 start that proved to be the Jacks' downfall.
Head coach John Stiegelmeier, who's entering his 15th season, addressed all things SDSU during a summer conversation with Midco Sports Network.
Q. Things were a little up and down last year. How do you address that this year?
A. There’s no doubt we were up and down, and to be honest, based on expectations, we were down. And we’ve already addressed that. We addressed it in spring ball. We addressed it after the season. What we talked about is we need to be ready to make the play that wins the game. We’ve been ready to do that and we weren’t last year. I’m not so sure if we weren’t ready, we just didn’t do it.
Q. You go to Illinois this year. You had the Nebraska game last year. Those money games are good for the University and the bottom line, but are they good in any way for your team early in the season?
A. The money game, the guarantee game, the FBS game is good for our program. For the budget, obviously, the exposure is very good. You always want to be challenged and, surely, those games challenge you. And if you’re lucky enough to do well and have a chance to win I think it really will elevate our program.
Q. You get NDSU late in the season. Is the Dakota Marker game still a special game?
A. I think the North Dakota State game has become “the game,” in terms of the rivalry. Years ago we used to focus on one or two games. We don’t do that anymore. But to get the blood flowing at a higher level and to get excited, that now is the North Dakota State game. It’s for the Border Marker. We’re two good programs. You know the young men that are on the two various teams. So it’s a fun game for us.
Q. You were very good [at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium] last year, lost some games on the road. Why is home field such an advantage in college football?
A. Surely, travel affects a football team. You’ve got your comfort zone. Your head is not on a swivel, wondering where you’re going, what you’re doing, or time schedule…you know it. You walk out of your locker room in front of your home fans. That’s much better than my pre-game talk. That is a tremendous lift. And, at our place, that’s a big deal.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference is one of the most competitve conferences in the country. Six of the league'snine teams finished 4-4 in conference play in 2010, including South Dakota State. Three others--Indiana St., NDSU and Southern Illinois--will visit Coughlin-Alumni Stadium this fall. All of those games will be live on Midco Sports Network.
- Oct. 1: Indiana St. vs. SDSU (Beef Bowl), 6 p.m.
- Oct. 22: NDSU vs. SDSU (Dakota Marker), 2 p.m.
- Nov. 5: Southern Illinois vs. SDSU (Hobo Day), 2 p.m.
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