BISMARCK, N.D. - Football is one of the high profile athletic programs on a college campus. The University of Mary made a change in who’s in charge of that program, and the Marauders decision turned Craig Bagnell into the youngest head coach in the NCAA.
Some things come full circle.
"You know it was something I knew I wanted to do," Bagnell said.
Nine years ago, Bagnell was just a Montana kid playing quarterback in the NSIC.
"I didn't think it was going to happen at this point in my career, I didn't think so," said Bagnell.
After graduating from the University of Mary in 2013, he went to Bemidji State as a graduate assistant, where he was able to take over as the Offensive Coordinator in 2015. Two years later, he returned to Bismarck.
"It's just exciting to get back to school that gave me so much, and get back to the city that, you know I love my time here in Bismarck as a player, so it's awesome to be back. It's been good, you know, it really has. I have to take a step back and look at the whole perspective and how we're doing as a group, on both sides of the ball, special teams too, so, it's been good," Bagnell said.
"He's one of the lucky few that actually, you get to come over and take over a program that you were a part of. As an alum, I think that's a huge deal. I think every coach wants to experience that, and it has come full circle for him, and now he's got the opportunity to bring the University of Mary back to where it was when he was playing," said Brett Holinka, University of Mary Defensive Coordinator.
It's a big adjustment going from playing to coaching, so is the transition from OC to head coach. Craig says having a core group of assistants has really helped.
"I wanted to make sure we had guys that obviously knew what they were doing, and do a tremendous job, and coaching the guys so I know one thing I told the guys is I want them to worry about football and their recruiting. That's what they do, I'll take care of all the other paperwork and all the fun stuff," Bagnell said.
With his first year of coaching just about here, the excitement is starting to settle in.
"It's exciting to just get going, really,” Bagnell added. “I haven't really looked at it a ton different than just looking at the whole perspective. So, it's exciting and it makes it even special to come back here to do it. So, we're just looking forward to getting this thing going."
His first game back at U-Mary is two weeks, and a day away.
Craig says he did not think he would get a head coaching opportunity this early in his career, but when Dale Lennon called, Bagnell says it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.