Eric Eidsness rejoined the Jackrabbit coaching staff in 2010 as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, and was elevated to offensive coordinator following the 2011 campaign.
With Eidsness directing the offense, the Jackrabbits have posted prolific numbers in both the running and passing games en route to playoff berths in both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, South Dakota State featured the nation’s top rusher in Zach Zenner, who averaged a Football Championship Subdivision-best 157.2 yards per game.
The 2013 Jackrabbits ranked in the upper half of the Missouri Valley Football Conference in numerous offensive categories, while putting up averages of 28.9 points and 384.6 yards per game. Both totals were the most by SDSU since 2008.
In 2011, Eidsness oversaw the emergence of Austin Sumner as one of the top young quarterbacks in the Football Championship Subdivision. Sumner established an MVFC freshman record with 2,382 yards passing, was named conference Freshman of the Year and finished third in the inaugural Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in the FCS ranks. Sumner, who was an honorable mention all-MVFC honoree as a junior in 2013, has gone on to set Jackrabbit career records for passing yards, attempts and completions, and is nearing the SDSU career mark for touchdowns.
During the 2010 season, Eidsness directed a passing attack that allowed only six sacks all season in more than 350 attempts.
An assistant coach for the Jackrabbits on two other occasions under head coach John Stiegelmeier, Eidsness left SDSU after the 2003 season to become head coach at Southwest Minnesota State. He compiled a 26-40 career record during his tenure on the Mustang sideline, which included a 6-5 season in 2008 — only the eighth winning season in school history. Eidsness’ 26 victories as head coach rank second in program history.
While at the helm of the Mustang program, Eidsness coached 61 all-conference players, including 10 who earned all-region honors. SMSU increased its scoring average each of his last four seasons, from 20.1 points per game in 2006 to 36.0 points in 2009, tying a school record with eight games of 30-plus points. The 2009 squad averaged 396.2 yards of total offense per game.
Eidsness began his association with the Jackrabbits as a graduate assistant during the 1996 and 1997 seasons, working with the team’s receivers. After a year as offensive coordinator at Ferris State (Mich.), he returned to SDSU in 1999 as offensive coordinator, while also coaching the team’s quarterbacks and running backs.
In five seasons directing the offense at SDSU, the Jackrabbits averaged 27.6 points per game while competing at the Division II level. During his tenure, the Jackrabbits set numerous school records both rushing the ball with All-America running back Josh Ranek and throwing the ball with quarterback Dan Fjeldheim.
A Sioux Falls native, Eidsness attended St. Cloud State University for two years before transferring to the University of Sioux Falls, where he graduated in 1992. He spent two years playing in Europe, where he also began his coaching career with the Robinson Sphinx in Paris, France. Upon returning to the United States, Eidsness served as quarterbacks and receivers coach at Morningside during the 1994 and 1995 seasons before enrolling in graduate school at SDSU.
A second-generation coach, Eidsness followed is the footsteps of his father, Lyle, who coached at the high school and collegiate levels throughout the Upper Midwest for more than 30 years. Lyle served on his son’s coaching staff at Southwest Minnesota State for four years (2004-07) as special teams and running backs coach.