ATLANTA, Ga. – The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame announced the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame class on Monday morning, and former Austin College head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma was among the 13 individuals elected.
Tjeerdsma is one of three coaches in this year’s Hall of Fame class, and the third member of the Austin College football family to received honors from the National Football Foundation in recent years. In 2015, former Kangaroo player Donnie Duncan earned the NFF’s Legacy Award, while former Austin College assistant football coach and current Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was inducted into the Hall of Fame that same year.
The winningest head coach in both Austin College and Northwest Missouri State history, Tjeerdsma boasted an impressive .774 winning percentage with three national championships at Northwest Missouri, including back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999. His 242 career wins are the 10th most all-time among NCAA Division II coaches.
Tjeerdsma began his 27-year head coaching career at Austin College in 1984, and served as the team’s head coach through the 1994 season, winning 59 games during his tenure. He led the ‘Roos to three Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles, as well as trips to the NAIA Division II playoffs in 1988 and 1990. He was an honorary inductee into the Austin College Athletics Hall of Honor in 1996.
After leaving Austin College, he began a 17-year stint as the head coach at Northwest Missouri, and in 2009 was named the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. He led his program to 12 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championships in that span, and was a four-time American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year, as well as being named the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year seven times. In 1998, Northwest Missouri became the first NCAA Division II football program to have ever finished the year with a 15-0 record.
Under Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri reached the national championship game an incredible five consecutive seasons beginning in 2005. In 2010, after leading his team to the NCAA Division II semifinals and a 12-2 record, Tjeerdsma retired from coaching.
Tjeerdsma returned to Austin College following his retirement from Northwest Missouri, working in fundraising for the college before returning to Northwest Missouri to serve as that school’s athletics director beginning in 2013.