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Football coach Jeff Jamrog plans to stay at MSU
Offered post at Ohio U
By Chad Courrier, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN]
MANKATO â€" Jeff Jamrog is staying, but he needs to find another assistant coach.
Jamrog, who led the football team to a 6-5 record in his first season at Minnesota State, has turned down an offer to join the staff at Ohio University, where former boss Frank Solich was hired last month. Jamrog, who said he was offered the defensive coordinator position, worked under Solich at Nebraska from 2000-03.
"This is a great program, and hopefully, we can do things that have never been done before here," Jamrog said. "Our goal is to win a championship, and we have the resources to do it. I'm excited to build from the momentum of last season."
Jamrog, who said he'd been contacted by other schools regarding jobs, said it was a tough decision, but he's already been a defensive coordinator at the Division I level (New Mexico State, 1996-99) and that doesn't have the appeal it once did.
"My family loves it here, and we've had tremendous support," Jamrog said. "I respect coach Solich, and when he calls, I'll always listen. But in the end, I'm committed here, and I like it here.
"When people make that jump, it might be that they're dissatisfied with their current job. In my case, I'm excited, people are excited about the direction of the program, and the players are excited."
Jamrog would have increased his salary with a move, probably 50 percent or more, but he is expected to receive a new four-year contract at Minnesota State, getting a raise from his current salary of $82,020.
"Jeff Jamrog is a valuable asset to our program, and we have made significant efforts over the past week or so to retain him as our head football coach," Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said in a statement. "We are currently in the process of requesting formal approval to renegotiate the terms of his contract and hope to bring this to a point of culmination in the next several days."
Jamrog did lose his defensive coordinator and secondary coach on Tuesday as Carl Pelini took a job with Solich's staff at Ohio as a defensive line coach. Last month, offensive coordinator Dan McLaughlin left to become the head coach at Wayne (Neb.) State.
"We've lost both coordinators, but I think that's a testament to the type of people we hired," Jamrog said. "If guys are leaving for the right reasons, that's easy to take.
"If you can replace great people with great people, that's the challenge and you can continue to have success. I'm excited about the caliber of people that we will be able to choose from."
Last season, the Mavericks struggled defensively, allowing 23.9 points and 369.5 yards per game. But in the last four games, opponents averaged just 7.0 points.
Jamrog said he isn't sure how the defensive staff will be arranged, with current assistants Spence Nowinsky (defensive line), Joe Klanderman (defensive line) and Ken Gordon (linebackers) all returning.
Jamrog found McLaughlin's replacement Tuesday when he hired Garin Higgins, the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Higgins, who also served as offensive coordinator, has a 51-9 record in five seasons, leading his teams to runners-up finishes in the NAIA national tournament in 2000 and 2003. Last season, Northwestern Oklahoma was 9-2, averaging 31.6 points.
"People will be excited by (Higgins)," Jamrog said. "He runs a multiple offense like they do at Utah. He's a great coach, a great person, an excellent recruiter. Not many times can you attract a successful head coach to a job like this."
Higgins, 36, who also served as offensive coordinator, had hoped to be in Mankato today but was stuck in Oklahoma because of an ice storm.
"I'm anxious and ready to go," Higgins said. "The success that coach Jamrog and his staff were able to have, to turn things around in such a short time, I want to be part of that."
Higgins said he hasn't seen any tape of Minnesota State and has not seen what any of the returning players can do, but his philosophy is to find a way to get his playmakers the ball and let them show their talent.
"I look forward to taking a look the personnel," he said. "Coach Jamrog and the staff have told me they have some quality athletes coming in."