A Coach You Probably Have Never Heard of: Mike Van Diest

On the Carroll College (MT) football web site is an opportunity to fill out a questionnaire if you would like to play for the Fighting Saints. Head Coach Mike Van Diest welcomes everyone and his record is a testament to his success. Consider this:*In his 11 years as head coach at the NAIA school in Helena, Van Diest has an overall record of 128-19.*During that span, the Fighting Saints have won 5 national championships in the last seven years and 10 consecutive Frontier Conference Championships.*This year’s team is 12-0, ranked #2 in the NAIA coaches poll and in the playoffs gunning for another championship.Defense is Van Diest’s specialty. Each year he has been at Carroll, his defense finished in the top ten among all NAIA colleges. “On defense, we’ve changed,” says Van Diest. “It’s gone from four-man fronts and three linebackers and four defensive backs, to three-man fronts with two or three linebackers and five or six defensive backs. But one thing that stays constant is the offensive line. Sometimes they may go unbalanced, which can be hard to pick up on film, but otherwise offensive lines haven’t changed much.”A native of Helena, Van Diest is a University of Wyoming graduate with coaching stops along the way at his alma mater, Montana, Massachusetts, and Northwestern. As Carroll College celebrates their Centennial Celebration this year (1909-2009) the Fighting Saints are also hoping to celebrate their 6th NAIA National Championship.