South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

‘I’m not nervous about the moment’

First-year head coach Jimmy Rogers leads Jacks to second straight title game appearance
Joclyn Haven
South Dakota State head coach Jimmy Rogers leads his team out of the locker room before a football game against Missouri State at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Being a first-year head coach for the defending national champions, Jimmy Rogers had some rather big shoes to fill replacing longtime head coach John Stiegelmeier.

But when it comes to the story of how the South Dakota State football team earned their spot in the FCS national championship this season, coach Rogers wasn’t surprised by how it all unfolded.

“This is what I expected, so to say that ‘I’m nervous about the moment’, I’m not nervous about the moment, I came to South Dakota State expecting to win national championships,” coach Rogers said.

With the return of multiple seniors for another year, including 10 sixth-year players, he was confident in the team’s ability to meet the expectations set by the 2022 team, and set the standard for the younger players.

“They’ve been great for me, hammering that message through,” coach Rogers said. “Because again these guys have been developed here, and I’m blessed that they came back because they didn’t need to come back.”

Development has been the key to the Jackrabbits winning ways, bringing in guys that weren’t highly recruited, and turning them into some of the best in the FCS.

“A lot of these guys weren’t highly recruited, they were developed here, especially the sixth-year guys, six out of the 10 were walk-ons,” coach Rogers said.” It’s really a credit to them buying into the system, and then buying into the culture of South Dakota State, and then pushing it farther than it’s ever been.”

Like many players on this Jackrabbit team, Coach Rogers wasn’t highly sought after coming out of high school. The Chandler, AZ native came from a very successful high school team, but never received much attention from FBS schools. So, he decided to take a similar approach to many players on the team now.

“I never dreamt of playing at South Dakota State, I’m from Arizona, never heard of South Dakota State,” Coach Rogers on his recruiting process. “I had played at a really good high school, and there was a handful of guys going FBS, that was the biggest thing, and I didn’t have those opportunities. South Dakota State gave me an opportunity and I bought into the opportunity.”

Now, the former linebacker has a new opportunity, to cap off his first year coaching his alma mater with its second-ever FCS national championship, beating a team the Jackrabbits have never beaten before.

Facing off against the Montana Grizzlies, it’s almost a picture-perfect ending to a picture-perfect season for Coach Rogers. Not only are the Jackrabbits 0-8 all-time against the Griz, but it was in Missoula, Mont. where Jimmy Rogers’s college football career ended back in 2009.

“Oh, it sticks with me,” coach Rogers on his final game as a college football player. “That was the last game I ever played; Montana was my first division-one opponent I played, and I think you can learn something from every loss that you have. To say one means more than the other when they end your season, they matter.”

Jimmy Rogers answering questions from the media during a press conference at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Friday, Jan. 5, 2023. (Brayden Byers)

Coach Rogers has been on both sides of the national championship as a defensive coordinator for South Dakota State and talks about how difficult it is to lose on the biggest stage.

“I probably remember the loss just as good as I remember the win, yeah those are hard,” coach Rogers said. “You do everything you can not to feel that way, but it’s not so much winning as not letting people down. That’s what maybe fuels me more than the hype of a championship.”

Coach Rogers talked about this senior class as a whole and how he wants to end this season on the right note in their last college football game.

“This senior group means the world to me, the world,” coach Rogers said. “We’ve done everything up to this point right and we have one more game to do it, and we’ve been really focused trying to make that happen and we’re going to give it our best.”

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About the Contributor
Brayden Byers
Brayden Byers, Managing Editor
Managing Editor Brayden Byers is a junior Journalism major from Linton, North Dakota. He has a minor in Digital & Social Media. Brayden is also the Program Director and Sports Director for the campus radio station KSDJ 90.7 FM.

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