Speculation ramped up late last week that UMD football coach and athletic director Bob Nielson could be on his way out. In its search for a new coach, Division I Western Illinois University listed Nielson as a finalist for the position last week, and interviewed him on Monday.
Tuesday, it began to become more clear that there was at least a real chance Nielson would move on.
Now, it appears to be a done deal.
According to a source within UMD, Nielson has decided to take the head coaching position at WIU. Various reports have indicated there could be a press conference as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
Nielson went 100-26 in two stints as the Bulldogs' football coach, including 62-7 over the last five seasons, with two Division II titles during that span. A program that had not made a single appearance in the Division II playoffs before Nielson arrived has now made six, including five in a row.
Replacing Nielson won't be easy, especially considering that he is also the school's athletic director, and has been since 2003.
It's unclear what direction the school will take with that position, but indications are that both football coordinators -- Curt Wiese on offense and John Steger on defense -- will stick around, with Wiese the likely successor to Nielson as head coach.
Getting a coach hired is important, because whoever it ends up being has to nail down a recruiting class that was expecting to sign to play for Nielson. The athletic director search can be a bit more protracted, and could very well include outside candidates.
We hope all Bulldog fans wish Nielson well. It was always good to work with him, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll do well at the next level of college football.