BOZEMAN – Saturday will not only be an FCS playoff game for the Bobcats, but it will be a reunion for Montana State head coach Jeff Choate and North Dakota State’s Courtney Messingham.
“I didn’t want to lose him, but I totally understood,” said Choate when speaking on Messingham’s departure from his program. “I mean, a guy that he’d known pretty much his whole life in Chris Klieman, they played together at (The University of Northern Iowa) and he had an opportunity to go and be a part of a program like that.”
Messingham was the offensive coordinator for the Bobcats in Choate’s first year in Bozeman before moving to the same position at NDSU to join his old friend Klieman, NDSU’s head coach.
“The opportunity that (Klieman) gave me was obviously one I couldn’t say no to, and I’m fired up that I’m here. And now it’s the part of the season that everybody in Fargo expects, and that’s playoff season,” said Messingham.
Klieman and Messingham have known each other practically their whole life. Their relationship spans decades back to when the two played together on the same youth baseball team in the fifth and sixth grade in Waterloo, Iowa.
Now Messingham and Choate will meet face to face for the first time since after the 2016 season.
“It’ll be fun until the thing kicks off and then it will be all business,” Messingham said. “And I hadn’t really spoken to (Choate) this week. Throughout the season we talked all the time with their staff, but now it’s game week and we are just worrying about ourselves and I’m sure they’re worrying about them.”
But Choate and Messingham don’t need to talk for the MSU coach to see similarities in both the Bison and Bobcat offenses.
“You can definitely see some of Mess’ flavors, mostly the gun run stuff. The under center stuff is pretty much what they do,” said Choate. “But you can see some of – definitely the play-action game and some of the gun run stuff is things that he implemented here and installed here for us.”
During his time in Bozeman, Messingham developed MSU into the third-best rushing attack in the Big Sky. And Choate is excited to get the chance to see him again.
“He kind of had the last laugh on that. I think a lot of people around here didn’t think he knew what he was doing. Evidently, he knows what he’s doing. So that’s a good thing and I’m happy for him and for (his wife) Carroll and their family, and it will be good to see the old mustache before the game,” Choate laughed.