By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
ESPN has released its list of the 150 greatest coaches in the
150 years of college football.
Ranked number 86 is Northwest Missouri State University
legendary coach Mel Tjeerdsma, who was in New York City when the news broke.
“And I got a text from somebody, a friend of mine, and said
something about being number 86 and something and I didn’t know what the text
was all about,” Tjeerdsma tells St. Joseph Post.
Tjeerdsma says he didn’t know until a former player sent him a
text with the ESPN article attached.
“It’s pretty humbling when you look at it and, for me, it’s
almost unbelievable when you see names like Bear Bryant and Tom Osborne, and
some of the all-time great coaches,” Tjeerdsma says. “Even to be mentioned in
the same article as them is pretty neat.”
Number one on the list is Bear Byrant with his overall record of
323-85-and-17; 232-46-9 during his time at Alabama from 1958 to 1982. Alabama’s
Nick Saban is second, followed by Knute Rockne of Notre Dame, Tom Osborne of
Nebraska, and Eddie Robinson of Grambling.
Tjeerdsma had an overall record of 242-82-and-4 at Austin and
Northwest. With the Bearcats, Tjeerdsma was 183-43, winning the NCAA Division
II national championship in 1998, 1999, and 2009. He became Athletic Director at
Northwest in 2013 before retiring.
Tjeerdsma says he was surprised to be ranked 86th
on the list, but was pleased to see other small college coaches recognized.
“They included all levels,” Tjeerdsma points out. “There were
some NAIA coaches, a couple of NAIA coaches, on there. Frosty Westering made
his mark really in NAIA before Pac Lutheran became Division III. I feel like, I
guess I’m trying to justify it now, but I feel like they were pretty inclusive
and did some thorough work.”
Westering, who ranked 39th, coached at Pacific Lutheran,
a school of 3,100 students in Tacoma, Washington, winning three NAIA Division
II national titles and one NCAA Division III national championship.
While Tjeerdsma is proud of his success on the field at
Northwest, he is most proud of what his players have done after they graduated.
“There’s so many of those guys that just makes you so proud of
what they’ve gone on to do once football has been over,” Tjeerdsma says. “I
feel like our staff and how we influenced that in their lives, maybe we had at
least a little bit of an impact on them.”