Stiegelmeier gives football update during Rabbit Roundup

Sydney Smith, Reporter (She/her)

Coach John Stiegelmeier joined a Rabbit Roundup Zoom webinar to give a much-anticipated update on the team and their future season following an unusual summer.

After missing out on spring ball, getting back to work for any sort of football season took a little bit of adjusting.

“Eventually our guys were able to lift,” Stiegelmeier said about their summer. “We set up 20 stations in the weight room and we could only have 20 guys in there at a time. They had to use the same rack the whole time and had to have their own water bottle. They’d come in one door and get their temperatures [taken].”

The team evolved and got to bring more athletes back, despite concerns of things shutting down and not being able to work out. That all changed just before fall camp was supposed to start.

“Aug. 7, we called a team meeting and President Dunn, our AD [Athletic Director] Justin Sell and I were there,‘’ Stieglemeier said. “Justin said tomorrow we’re gonna pull the plug on the season. Our freshmen were there for two days and they’re told the season’s over.”

Since then, it’s been something that the Jacks football coach called “a long journey.”

“We chose to not do as much as we could with our guys just to try to do everything we could to honor President Dunn’s vision,” he said. “But after three weeks, there was a new process set up by the NCAA that was a 12 hour per week process. Five of those could be individual instruction with helmets on, and then the other seven would be meetings and lifting.”

Stiegelmeier said that after the conference season was moved to the spring, South Dakota State University tried reaching outside of the Mountain Valley Football Conference for potential games, which ended up not working out.

All eyes then turned to the upcoming spring season of conference games that were reworked to fit schedules.

“Our ‘fall camp’ will start Jan. 22 and our first game is scheduled for Feb. 20,” Stiegelmeier said. “We’ll play an eight-game schedule during a nine-week schedule because of the system of putting everybody’s schedule together.”

The change is something that won’t only be completely new for both the team and fans, but will also be “cool” to see.

“It’s literally gonna be really cool, and cold, and frigid, to see a home game in March, but I can’t wait,” Stiegelmeier said.

The playoff scenario is also different, as only 16 teams will qualify instead of the usual 24, and the championship game on May 15 will be played at the higher seeded team instead of the normal Frisco, Texas location.

Aside from the change of when college football will be played for the Jacks, the team will also look a little different.

“Of the 20 seniors, one guy entered the transfer portal, three guys opted out, one tore his Achilles, two said they’ll play in the spring and then are done and the final 13 said they’ll play in the spring and the fall,” Stiegelmeier said.

Not only is there now a change to the lineup, but the football team will have a few more players than usual come the fall of 2021.

“Everybody in college football gets a free year. This year doesn’t count in eligibility,” Stiegelmeier said.

This results in a doubling up of some classes, which is something that Stiegelmeier called “a budget math problem.” 

“Justin Sell, our AD, has talked to our team and said that everyone’s scholarships are safe, and I honor that. It’s a lot of money to bring back the seniors,” he said. 

With an actual football season now set and a timeframe for work available, Stiegelmeier reflected back on how the team has reacted to all the changes throughout the past few months. 

“I am so proud of how our boys have approached this,” he said. “We have such great student athletes and great leadership within our student athletes and what an important time to have great leadership.”