GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota head football coach Chris Mussman announced the hiring of a pair of assistant coaches on Thursday, completing his staff for the 2013 season. Mike Cunningham, a former Minnesota State assistant, will coach the offensive line, while Jason Thier, a former assistant at Montana Western, will coach the outside linebackers.
“These are two guys that are new to the program, but have some history with guys on our staff and that’s important,” Mussman said. “Mike and Jason are both passionate about what they do and I think that will translate well to our program and the positions they will be coaching.”
Cunningham arrives in Grand Forks following a seven-year stint at Minnesota State where he coached the Mavericks’ offensive line and was elevated to run game coordinator in 2009. The Mavericks are coming off a 13-1 season where they reached the semifinals of the Division II NCAA Playoffs.
Cunningham coached six All-NSIC performers during his tenure with the Vikings, including current Green Bay Packer Adrian Battles. He also coached five of those seasons in Mankato with UND’s current offensive coordinator Luke Schleusner.
“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to join a tradition-rich program like UND,” Cunningham said. “There are a lot of alums on the staff here and that shows you the great pride they have in their alma mater. That is something any coach would want to be a part of and I’m thrilled to be here and things started.”
A 2001 graduate of New Mexico State, Cunningham started his coaching career with the Aggies as a student assistant from 1998-2001. He was an offensive graduate assistant at NMSU from 2002-04 before spending two seasons as the offensive line coach at Concordia-St. Paul.
Thier shifts to the Division I level after a two-year stint at Montana Western. He spent the 2011-12 season as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator and also coached the secondary.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the tradition that is UND football,” Thier said. “As a young coach, I’m looking forward to learning from the current coaching staff as I continue to develop my career. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity and there is no place I’d rather be as this program strives for success at the Division I level.”
Prior to his time at the NAIA school, Thier was a defensive graduate assistant at Augustana College from 2009-2010. He coached the linebackers and also served as the Vikings’ video coordinator. In 2010, the Vikings advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division II NCAA Playoffs and all three of his linebackers were All-NSIC performers. Chris Janish was also an all-region performer at linebacker.
Thier (rhymes with fear) played collegiately at Truman State (2005-08), which included one season under current UND defensive coordinator Josh Kotelnicki. He was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Bulldogs and racked up a team-high 99 tackles as a senior in 2008 when he was named All-MIAA second team. Thier earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from TSU (2009) and a master’s degree in education from Augustana (2011).
— Go UND —