It didn't take Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman long to find a new defensive coordinator, but then again he didn't have to look very far.
Klieman promoted safeties coach Joe Klanderman to the position on Monday and also gave cornerbacks coach Van Malone the added titles of assistant head coach and passing game coordinator.
Klanderman takes over for Scottie Hazelton, who left K-State after one season to take a similar job at Michigan State under new Spartans head coach Mel Tucker.
"Joe is one of the best defensive coaches I have ever been around, and he is ready for this role," Klieman said in a K-State release. "In addition to already having coordinator experience, Joe knows our defense as well as anyone, and it is important to continue to develop our players and keep them in our system.
"We appreciate what Scottie did for our program this past year and hate to see him leave, but we are excited about our future with Coach Klanderman and the rest of our defensive staff."
Klanderman spent five seasons on Klieman's staff at North Dakota State, helping lead the Bison to four FCS national titles before moving with him to K-State last year. He is widely regarded, along with Malone, as one of the Wildcats' top recruiters.
"I’m so appreciative to have the opportunity to expand my role in something much bigger than myself," Klanderman said. "We’re going to work tirelessly to put a product on the field that Wildcat fans can be proud of. We will continue to push ahead with what we did a year ago and expand upon the foundation that was laid last season."
Klanderman takes over a K-State defense that made major strides last year on the way to an 8-5 record, ranking second in the Big 12 in points allowed at 21.4 points per game. The most dramatic improvement came in third-down efficiency, where the Wildcats led the league and ranked second nationally at 28%.
Before going to North Dakota State, Klanderman served as defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Minnesota State, from 2006-13. He will continue to coach the Wildcat safeties while Klieman seeks a replacement to take Hazelton's spot with the linebacking corps.
Malone joined Klieman's first K-State staff after a year as defensive quality control coach at Mississippi State, but before that he spent three seasons as defensive coordinator at SMU, where in 2017 he was named National FBS Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.
"Van is a veteran coach who has immediately had a big impact on our program and student-athletes," Klieman said. "Not only is he one of the most respected defensive coaches in college football, but his experience, leadership and development of young men is unmatched."
With Malone and Klanderman in charge of the secondary, K-State ranked second in the Big 12 in pass defense at 202.9 yards per game, its best showing in five seasons.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," Malone said. "I couldn’t be more thrilled for coach Klieman to give me these responsibilities, but I also understand the challenge that they hold.
"We came here to win championships — and it’s on the right trajectory — but we all have to be better and give more. This expanded role puts me in a great position to help us do that."
K-State begins spring practice on March 18, with the 15th and final session open to the public at 6 p.m. April 17 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.