BIG SKY PRESS RELEASE
One year ago today, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks were sitting at home, wondering why they weren’t able to play one more game.
The Fighting Hawks went 7-4 in 2015, with road wins over nationally-ranked foes, and a win over FBS Wyoming. Still, North Dakota was left out of the postseason, leading people to ask why.
But Fighting Hawks coach Bubba Schweigert didn’t allow the hopelessness of that situation to detract from his plan to rebuild UND football. The man who watched his older brother play for North Dakota, and who is a Zeeland, North Dakota native, had a plan for getting the Fighting Hawks to the top, and he continued on with the plan throughout the offseason. North Dakota started the 2016 season 0-2, but propelled to nine consecutive wins from there.
Maybe the postseason snub and slow start to the 2016 season provided some extra motivation the Fighting Hawks needed, as Schweigert led North Dakota to a 9-2 record, an 8-0 conference mark and a seventh seed in the FCS playoffs. For all of his work with North Dakota this season, Schweigert was recognized as the conference’s Coach of the Year, by his peers.
While Schweigert’s career in football took him various places, it always seemed there was one special place in his heart that he could only access by being in Grand Forks, coaching football. The coach, who has coached at UND for a total of 18 seasons, as both a head coach and assistant, has led the proud program back to the top, and for the first time, the top of the Big Sky Conference.
In 2013, North Dakota went 3-8, in its second season of the Big Sky. It was at that time that a new direction was decided upon, and it featured Schweigert leading the way. In each of his three seasons, UND has improved, going from 5-6 to 7-4 to 9-2, with an FCS playoff game coming.
Schweigert, who cut his teeth in the profession as a defensive coach, coached safety Cole Reyes to the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, while coaching 11 different players to the all-conference team this season. The Fighting Hawks also had five first-team all-conference selections.
The Fighting Hawks have an open week, and will play the winner of Richmond and North Carolina A&T in the second round of the FCS playoffs.