On December 20, 2016, Kyle Nystrom was announced as the 22nd head coach of the Northern Michigan football program and enters his third season at the helm.
His 2018 squad set multiple school records. Jake Mayon was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Back of the Year for the second straight season after breaking the school's career rushing record, finishing with 4,220 yards and the single season rushing record, finishing the year with 1,505 yards. As a team, the Wildcats rushed for a school record 2,660 yards. They also set a new record with 24 rushing first downs in a 65-7 victory over Lawrence Technological University. Defensively, Nystrom has continued to make strides as the team allowed nearly 58 yards fewer per game, and are allowing over 100 yards less than prior to his arrival.
In his first season leading the Wildcats, Nystrom's guidance proved valuable to the team's defense, as they reduced their points allowed by over 10 points and allowed Jake Mayon earn Offensive Back of the Year from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Against the run, his defense improved by allowing an impressive 72 yards less per game.
Offensively, Jake Mayon was named the GLIAC Player of the Week and went on to earn GLIAC's Offensive Back of the Year Award. In total, three players were named to the GLIAC's All-Conference team, with two earning First Team honors. It was the first time since 2012 NMU Football placed multiple players on the GLIAC's First Team
Nystrom grew up around the Wildcat football team. He was in fifth grade when his father, Buck, began his first stint as an assistant coach on the Northern Michigan staff in 1975. From that moment on, the Wildcats gained a special place in his heart.
Since those days on the sidelines of Memorial Field, Nystrom has amassed nearly 30 years of coaching experience and cultivated strong recruiting ties throughout the Midwest. He spent the past two seasons at Ferris State and was elevated to co-defensive coordinator before the 2016 campaign.
In 2016, the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals for only the second time in program history after downing Midwestern State and Colorado Mines in Big Rapids and then stunning Grand Valley State, 47-32, in Allendale, Mich. Two of Nystrom's linebackers earned all-GLIAC recognition for their performance.
In 2015, Nystrom was charged with coaching the defensive backs. That season, Ferris State went unbeaten in regular season play en route to its second-straight GLIAC Championship. The Bulldogs also won their first NCAA playoff game in 19 years, dispatching Texas A&M Commerce, 48-30, in the opening round.
Before his stint on the Ferris State staff, Nystrom served as an assistant coach at Central Michigan from 2010 to 2014 and was tabbed as the interim head coach when Dan Enos departed at the end of the 2014 campaign. In 2014, he helped lead the Chippewas to an appearance in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl. He also helped Central Michigan win the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Nystrom, who worked primarily with the linebackers, guided four all-Mid-American Conference selections, Shamari Benton (2013), Justin Cherocci (2013), Matt Berning (2010) and Nick Bellore (2010), while in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Bellore, a three-time all-MAC first team pick, went on to become a key special teams player and backup linebacker for the New York Jets.
Before spending the 2009 season as a defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State, Nystrom served as an assistant head coach and defensive running game coordinator at North Dakota State from 2006 to 2009. During his time in Fargo, N.D., he coached the linebackers, including 2007 All-American and 2008 NFL Draft pick Joe Mays.
In 2005, Nystrom was an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at DePauw. From 2002 to 2004, he guided the linebackers at Texas Christian. In his first season on the Horned Frogs' staff, Nystrom coached LaMarcus McDonald, an All-American and the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.
Before his time at Texas Christian, Nystrom spent 13 seasons at Western Michigan. During his final six campaigns, he served as the special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach. In 1999 and 2000, he helped the Broncos reach the Mid-American Conference Championship game.
Nystrom was a graduate assistant at Northern Michigan in 1988 and had the opportunity to work with his father, who was a year into his second stint as an assistant coach. His coaching career began as a student assistant at Michigan State in 1983
Nystrom graduated from Michigan State in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Cherise, have three children, Logan, Tellena and Eva.