The strange road to 257Hank Biesiot could care less about the record everyone keeps asking him about.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Hank Biesiot could care less about the record everyone keeps asking him about.
“I’ve never thought about it,” Biesiot said.
Dickinson State’s head football coach can downplay it all he wants, but a win Saturday night against Rocky Mountain College at the Badlands Activities Center would tie him for the honor of winningest football coach in NAIA history.
“That’ll be a big thing in our hearts,” DSU senior wide receiver Tanner Leak said.
Biesiot already has the record for most career wins at one NAIA school with 255 victories in 36 seasons.
His pursuit of the official NAIA wins record, however, is far more complicated.
Kevin Donley, the head coach of the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., enters the weekend tied with Biesiot for second on the NAIA’s all-time wins chart.
According to the NAIA, the winningest football coach in its organization is Frosty Westering, the long-time head coach at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Wash. Westering had 256 NAIA wins before his
school moved to NCAA Division III in 1998.
He retired from coaching in 2003.
Here’s where the chase for the record gets interesting.
The NAIA’s bylaws state that any coach who has been with a NAIA institution a minimum of 10 years can count any other collegiate wins and losses from any level to their official record, as long as it was at a four-year school.
Donley has 244 NAIA wins at three different schools and 11 wins at California (Pa.) University, which is NCAA Division II.
Westering won 212 NAIA games at Pacific Lutheran. Before that, he had 44 wins in eight seasons at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, and Lea College in Albert Lea, Minn., during the 60s and 70s.
Westering, 84, said Tuesday that he believes that Parsons and Lea were both affiliated with the NAIA. Though he admits they played odd schedules and the NAIA could not provide an official record that the teams were members. Both schools closed in the early 1970s.
Westering said he is content knowing his record, which he has held since Pacific Lutheran left the NAIA in 1997, will eventually be surpassed by two men he calls “more than football coaches.”
He added that he, probably more than anyone, can understand both Biesiot and Donley have greater concerns than setting a record.
“I think we coach the game for more than that,” Westering said.
Biesiot, Donley, Westering present great humilty
Westering, who finished his career with 305 total wins, said he rarely brings up the NAIA record.
“Really, we don’t even talk about that,” Westering said. “You’re playing the game for the game and for that season. The way the seasons pile up after you coach many years, the number comes up.”
Biesiot and Donley are two men of the same mindset.
Each having coached football for four decades, the wins record doesn’t seem to mean much to either coach — even if it will undoubtedly have their names attached to it.
Like Biesiot, Donley is humble about his accomplishments.
“Both of us, we’re two old war horses,” said Donley, who started his career at Anderson (Ind.) University and won an NAIA Division II title during 11 seasons at Georgetown (Ky.). “We’ve been in it forever. Everybody’s got an ego, but the older you get, you keep things in perspective.
“It’s not too big of a deal. It’s nice and all that good stuff. But I don’t have much time to think about that. This game is for the kids.”
Biesiot is all about perspective too.
He’s much more concerned about DSU starting the 2012 season, its first in the Frontier Conference, with a win against Rocky than he is about tying Westering’s record.
“If you make a standard there, it’ll be broken the next year,” Biesiot said.
Though they are the two most tenured coaches in NAIA football and have coached a combined 730 football games, Biesiot and Donley have never stood opposite of each other on the sidelines.
“He’s had a great record, and he’s a great coach,” Biesiot said. “I’ve met him a couple times. He seems like a swell fellow.”
Players want Biesiot to get wins, but won’t make big deal about it
DSU senior safety Nolan Schwartz, like almost every other player on his team, doesn’t know quite what to make of coach Biesiot’s pursuit of the NAIA coaching wins record.
Schwartz, one a handful of Blue Hawks whose fathers played football under Biesiot, said players know better than to talk about the wins record in the locker room.
“They shouldn’t think about that at all,” Biesiot said.
Schwartz said the team is more concerned with having a winning season than Biesiot breaking the record. Nonetheless, he acknowledged the team would love to be the one that helps him achieve this record.
“It’s kind of a novelty,” Schwartz said, before smiling. “But it’s something we’d like to say — our seniors — that we did for him.”
As for the NAIA’s policy on how it counts wins, the Dickinson High School graduate isn’t too enthusiastic about it.
“If that’s what they consider a tie, it’s for the birds I guess,” he said with a laugh.
NAIA bylaw regarding coaching records
The ‘Career Records’ category listed under the National Association of Intercollegiate Atheltics’ statistical and scoring policy is as follows:
Career won-loss records and overall winning percentage by coaches shall not be affected by an institution’s declaration of intent to participate. When compiling coaching records, only records as a head coach at upper-level or four-year institutions and games against upper-level or four-year institutions are to be included. High school and/or junior college-level games do not count. In career coaching records, there is a minimum of 10 years the head coach is required to be at an NAIA institution if carrying over any non-NAIA wins/losses. The carry-over of wins/losses from non-NAIA schools must meet the requirements above in this policy pertaining to upper-level and four-year institutions.