This coach could be considered in the top tier of candidates based on his resume and other factors.
Career summary for coaching
Kansas State University’s head football coach is Chris Klieman. From 2014 until 2018, he was North Dakota State University’s head football coach.
As an assistant coach, Klieman started his coaching career at Missouri State University (1999), Kansas University (1997), and Western Illinois University (1994–1996). After taking over as head coach at Loras College in 2005, Klieman guided the team to a 3-7 record. Later on, he would work at Northern Iowa as a defensive coordinator.
Klieman was appointed head coach of North Dakota State University in 2014. His swift turnaround of the program resulted in four NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national championships for the Bison between 2014 and 2017. Also, Klieman oversaw that NDSU to a 16-0 undefeated record in 2018.
Klieman was appointed head football coach of Kansas State University in 2019. In his first season, he guided the Wildcats to a 3-9 record; however, the team improved to 4-6 in 2020 and 8-5 in 2021. Klieman guided Kansas State to a 10-3 record and a Liberty Bowl victory in 2022, marking the program’s first bowl game triumph since 2012.
Klieman has a 110-37 overall coaching record and a high winning percentage. Only four coaches have won four or more FCS national titles, including him.
Why supporters of UCLA would want him to be their coach
The hiring of Chris Klieman would be intriguing because he is regarded as a coach who can help players reach their maximum potential and because he has demonstrated his ability to win crucial games against teams with less talented players. In his first season at Kansas State, he defeated No. 5 Oklahoma and won on the road at Mississippi State.
He also won four national titles at the FCS level, demonstrating his ability to coach in high-stakes games. In season two at Kansas State, he again triumphed over Oklahoma away from home against the nation’s third-ranked Sooners. As Klieman’s head coach, he and his Wildcats defeated LSU in the Texas Bowl in 2021 to win their first-ever bowl game. But his finest year as Kansas State’s head coach was 2022.
Following a thrilling victory over Missouri in a nonconference game, Klieman and his squad defeated Oklahoma for the third time, this time on the road against a Sooner team ranked in the top 10. After that, he and the Wildcats shut out No. 9 Oklahoma State by a score of 48 points, and their most memorable victory of the previous campaign came in the Big 12 Championship game against No. 3 TCU in overtime.
This season they have eight wins and recently due to his success, extended his contract to 2029-30 but the raises that he will receive will not stop a school like UCLA.
Is landing Klieman a realistic expectation? Not very realistic as he seems to be very happy being the head coach of Kansas State. Then you have a small faction of UCLA fans who may not be thrilled with the fact that as the head coach of the Wilcards, he is 1-2 in bowl games and he and Kansas State have not won more than 10 games in a season at the FBS level. He also has defeated ranked teams, but he has also suffered home losses to West Virginia, Tulane, Iowa State, and Arkansas State. This is similar to what Chip Kelly has done to some extent when he was the coach of UCLA.
However, that would be scrutinizing his entire coaching record and highlighting a few shortcomings, though, given that the majority of his tenure at Kansas State—aside from 2020, when he and his team dropped their final five games—has been productive. As UCLA conducts a thorough search for a new head coach, they may consider him as their possible candidate to lead the Bruins as they transition to the Big Ten next season.