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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Buck is back

Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+archives%3A+A+younger+Buck+Nystrom+glares+out+onto+the+field+during+the+1975+Wildcat+football+season.+That+year%E2%80%99s+team+defeated+the+now+Division+I++teams+Central+Michigan+and+Boise+State.
Photo courtesy of NMU archives: A younger Buck Nystrom glares out onto the field during the 1975 Wildcat football season. That year’s team defeated the now Division I teams Central Michigan and Boise State.

From new uniforms that sport the updated athletics logo to the several incoming freshmen that fill the roster and the unveiling of brand new Wildcat Willy, Northern Michigan fans may have noticed many changes to this year’s football program.

There is one element of the past that still helps guide the Wildcats. Carl “Buck” Nystrom, who was offensive coordinator in 1975 for the only NMU squad to ever be crowned NCAA Division II champions, returned to the sidelines this season as a volunteer coach.

Father of current Wildcat head coach Kyle Nystrom, the 84-year-old Marquette native was captain and MVP of the 1955 Michigan State University Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship team. Following his time as a player, he accumulated 42 years of college coaching experience at programs such as Michigan State University, the University of Colorado, and three separate spans totaling 11 years with the Northern Michigan University Wildcats.

During his time as a coach, Nystrom developed a “demand and confront” coaching style that he feels is essential to success.

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“I don’t care whether it’s you in your life, in my life, out on the football field, you have to have an ability to demand yourself to perform with productivity and confront yourself when you’re right or you’re wrong,” Nystrom said.

In his 42 years of experience, Nystrom said he has only had three losing seasons while achieving six national championships, 16 conference championships and has won 16 of his 18 bowl game appearances.

“So I think I know what the hell I’m talking about,” Nystrom added.

Before Nystrom’s arrival in the spring of 1975, the Wildcats went winless in the ’74 season and their 10 losses still hold the school record for most lost games in a season.

After claiming the 1975 national title and going nearly undefeated in their season, NMU remained a prominent force in the league for many years and was even considered by some analysts as the best Division II team in the country, Nystrom said.

Northern has always been a good football school, Nystrom said. While NMU wasn’t the most skilled, the team still found success by being able to outwork their opponent on the football field.

Although this year’s team has struggled and are currently ninth in the GLIAC with a 1-7 conference record, he said he felt confident that if anybody can help the program, it’s his son.

“We’ve struggled without question for the last 15 years, and that shouldn’t be,” Nystrom said. “We should be a damn good football team, but we will get it back. That’s why my son is here.”

While he feels his coaching style differs from his father’s, Kyle Nystrom said that they both enjoy working with student athletes and molding them into not only good athletes, but good people. Kyle added that although the job isn’t easy, the reward is more valuable than money.

“The importance of relationships and growing people up, I saw that in him [Buck] and I like doing that,” Kyle said. “My belief in fundamentals and techniques and the simple mechanisms of football that have to be taught that no one wants to teach anymore, that I learned from him.”

Buck’s core contribution to this year’s squad was establishing the team’s offseason workout schedule and working with the offensive line, he said.

In the spring, players developed endurance, strength and speed using “the fourth quarter program,” a routine created by Nystrom while working with the 1975 team.

Nystrom said the program is meant to instill toughness, discipline and other intangible qualities, ultimately molding players to “bust their tails for all four
quarters.”

Although Nystrom was able to help the staff this season, he said he will sit out in future seasons due to his age but will be sure to support the Wildcats as a fan.

“I’m a young guy at heart, but I’m not a young guy in age,” Nystrom said.

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