Nielson could leave WIU for South Dakota

(STATS) - Bob Nielson will seek continued success in the Missouri Valley Football Conference next year after winning its coach of the year award this season.

The question is, will he continue to do so at Western Illinois or will it be at the University of South Dakota?

FootballScoop reported Thursday that Nielson will become USD's new head coach, switching schools in the same conference. If so, he would replace Joe Glenn, who retired after a 5-6 season with the Coyotes this year.

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The 56-year-old Nielson just completed a 7-6 season at WIU, including a 5-3 mark and tie for third place in the Missouri Valley, and he led the Leathernecks to their first FCS playoff appearance since 2010. They defeated Dayton in the first round before being eliminated by Illinois State in the second, completing a season against what was considered the toughest schedule in the FCS.

WIU has gone 16-21 over the last three seasons under Nielson, whose interest elsewhere would likely be cause for a raise if he doesn't leave the Leathernecks.

Nielson has been a head coach since 1989, starting at Ripon. He led both Wartburg and Wisconsin-Eau Claire to the NCAA Division III playoffs and won two Division II national titles at Minnesota-Duluth, leading 15-0 teams in 2008 and 2010. He has a 186-80-1 career record.

A head coach switching schools in the same conference isn't common. Most recently in the FCS, Al Bagnoli retired at Penn after the 2014 season only to be hired at fellow Ivy League member Columbia less than three months later. After the 2013 season, Clint Conque made a straight move in the Southland Conference from Central Arkansas to Stephen F. Austin, and Rick Comegy switched schools in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, but he was hired at Mississippi Valley State after being fired at Jackson State.