FARGO, N.D. | Courtney Messingham and his wife, Carol, loved Bozeman, Montana.
Messingham enjoyed the football staff at Montana State, the 10th stop of his 28-year coaching career.
Then in February he got a call from his old Waterloo Lions Club baseball teammate, Chris Klieman, the head coach at North Dakota State, a guy he already talked to near every week.
That phone conversation was quick, Klieman needed a new offensive coordinator after his, Tim Polasek, left to coach at Iowa, and a couple of days later, Courtney and Carol were on the move again.
"There really wasn't a desire to leave," Messingham said Tuesday while talking a break from watching Northern Iowa game film in preparation of Saturday's game with the Panthers at the FargoDome. "But I knew coach Klieman. I knew coach Entz (Matt). I was pretty confident it would be an easy transition.
"Plus, Carol was going to know people, and I knew what to expect having worked with Coach Klieman before."
When Messingham arrived in Fargo, it meant the NDSU coaching staff's top three positions — head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators — were manned by three Waterloo natives — Klieman (Waterloo Columbus Class of 1985), Messingham (Waterloo West Class of 1985) and Entz (Waterloo West Class of 1991).
"I've known Chris since we were both in the fifth grade, played on the same Lions Club team with him, and I've known Matt since he was in the sixth grade," Messingham said. "So I was familiar with the coaching staff, and it was a place to be successful and from that standpoint it was a very easy decision."
Like Messingham, Entz, who is in his fourth season as defensive coordinator at NDSU, followed Klieman to Fargo after a one-year stint at Western Illinois, and had worked under Klieman previously on Northern Iowa's defensive staff in 2010.
The 1995 Wartburg grad has also had stops at Wayne State, Illinois College and Winona State.
"It's a unique situation having all three of us from Waterloo," Entz said. "There are times we are sitting down with recruits and the parents will ask us where are we from, and we will all say Waterloo, Iowa, and when they finally get it, they are like, 'you all are really from the same place?'"
Messingham said the transition from Montana State to NDSU has been smooth, especially with learning and understanding the Bison's offensive scheme.
Messingham said he has put his own personal touches on the offense, but they would be hardly noticeable to the naked eye and says the offense NDSU runs is a copy of the one Dan Enos (current Arkansas offensive coordinator) ran at Missouri State in 1999 when Messingham and Klieman were both on the Bears' staff.
"What we did at Missouri State in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 really translated to what I was doing at Montana State and when I got here and started learning the playbook, looking at the cut-ups ... I went and dug out my old 2001 playbook from Missouri State and knew I could coach from that, too," Messingham said.
When asked, 'you keep all your old playbooks and you make your wife pack all those every time you move?', Messingham laughed.
"That is funny because when we were packing up in Bozeman, Carol and I really started to go this can go to the recycling bin and this can go with us. We did pare some stuff down," Messingham said. "I've accumulated a lot of stuff over 28 years, and I've got a lot of playbooks, all my playbooks."
Entz said the decision to leave Western Illinois after one year for NDSU was also a no-brainer and much like Messingham did not feel he needed to put his imprint all over a Bison defense that was already playing at high level when he arrived.
"I kind of felt like I needed to earn my keep a little bit before I could add my own influences," Entz said.
Working with Waterloo natives has been rewarding according to Entz, who said he first got to know Messingham when he was a kid and his mom used to drop him off at Byrnes Park where Messingham ran the Waterloo Recreation Department's summer program at the park.
"I've definitely know Courtney the longest, and his brother still farms out by where my dad farms," Entz said. "I didn't get to know Chris as well until probably 2006 when I was with Winona State and we'd come down to Northern Iowa, visit and talk defense."
The banter and old Waterloo stories have picked up since Messingham arrived in Fargo, and did again this week when an old newspaper article got circulated around NDSU staff meeting room, one detailing Messingham leading Waterloo West to a last second victory in 1984 over Waterloo Columbus, quarterbacked by Klieman.
"We still like to give it to each other. That definitely got passed around in the meeting room," laughed Messingham.
"I remember going to both the state championship games and watching that year," added Entz of West and Columbus playing in the 4A and 3A state championship games in 1984.