A sign of a good college football program is stability, and it’s hard to get any more stable than the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, including Jim Malosky’s legendary 40-year stint from 1958 to 1997.
Curt Wiese has done his part to add to that legacy, and for that, he was rewarded with a two-year contract extension, announced Thursday.
“It’s an exciting thing for myself and our football program,” said Wiese, 41. “It’s a credit to our staff, the guys we’ve had, and the guys we currently have in our football program. I’m fortunate to be around good people, and excited to continue to be the head football coach at UMD.”
The contract continues the annual pay progression of Wiese’s previous contract extension in 2017, escalating $5,000 a season. Wiese, who made $105,000 last season, will receive $110,000 this year, $115,000 next year, $120,000 in 2021-22 and $125,000 in the final year, 2022-23.
“Great news for UMD,” Bulldogs athletic director Josh Berlo said. “Curt is an asset to the program, the athletic department, the university and our community with his leadership and values and direction for our program. He’s a great role model for our young men. It’s a cliche, but they’re exceeding on and off the field, academically and competitively. Just the manner in which he runs that program, it’s a pleasure to have him.”
Wiese is in his seventh season as UMD head coach and 12th year with the program, having handled the offensive coordinator role from 2008-2012, including national championships in 2008 and 2010.
“Stability and consistency is something that is required to have a national level program, and we’re proud to call Bulldog football a nationally respected program,” Berlo said.
Wiese was asked if he ever thought he’d be here this long when he first came on board with head coach Bob Nielson in 2008.
“I didn’t,” Wiese said. “I think whenever you take a job in coaching, your hope is that you’ll have an opportunity to be part of a successful program and be around good people. You hope to have an opportunity to settle in there, but the reality in college coaching, most stops are one to three years. I’m fortunate to be heading into year 12.”
And that kind of stability helps on a lot of levels, from fundraising to community awareness to recruiting.
“About every recruit that walks through your office, especially when you're a program that has success, the first questions are how long is your staff going to be here, and how long are you going to be here?” Wiese said. “Myself, and my family, love the city of Duluth and the community of Duluth, and UMD has treated us well.”
Wiese has directed the Bulldogs to a 63-12 overall record (for a program-record .840 winning percentage), four NCAA Division II playoff appearances, two NSIC championships, six straight NSIC North Division titles and two 11-0 regular-season finishes. He’s also helped produce 22 All-Americans and 38 All-NSIC first-team selections while seeing his Bulldogs earn NSIC All-Academic status 92 times.
But Berlo said Wiese’s impact goes beyond those numbers. Wiese puts a strong emphasis on his team volunteering in the community. Anyone who has ever been to the annual Duluth Lions Club Pancake Day at the DECC can attest to that, with players clad in maroon UMD jerseys flipping cakes or busing tables.
“Curt’s involved in a lot of important community organizations,” Berlo said. “He’s really invested in this community, and his family. He’s trying to make it a great place that’s he’s proud to be a part of. Duluth is great, our surrounding area is great, and he’s always trying to make it better. He certainly has a lot of community pride.”
Wiese’s 63 victories over the past six years are bettered by only one other NCAA Division II coach and by just three other programs, and in 2013 he was named the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year for Division II, an award that recognizes excellence beyond wins and losses.
Wiese and his wife, Jenny, live in Hermantown with their daughters Alexis, Makenna and Brooke.
Wiese admitted he has had opportunities to move up the coaching ranks, and it’s not something he takes lightly. He will never move up just to move up, and he weighs the entire impact that move could have on him and his family.
“In college coaching right now, if you chase opportunity and you let finances make that decision for you, sometimes it can be beneficial, and it can also get you in trouble,” Wiese said. “There’s a fine line when you look at the profession of coaching that you have stability for your family and financially, the institution is willing to support your family like UMD is. There’s a fine line in chasing the next opportunity and being appreciative of the one that you have. I’ve always been appreciative of what UMD has given us.”