Now in his fifth season as Whitworth University's head foortball coach in 2018, Rod Sandberg has guided the Pirates to a 31-10 record over his first four years. The Bucs are coming off of consecutive 8-2 records 2016 and 2017 and they went 9-2 in 2015, including an appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Whitworth was 6-4 in 2014, the best first-year record for a Pirate football coach since Rod Enos led the team to a 6-3 mark in 1965.
The 25 victories from 2015-2017 are the second most in any three-year stretch in school history, ranking only behind the 26 wins from 1959-61.
The Pirates set five offensive team records and nine individual offensive records in 2016. Quarterback Ian Kolste led all of NCAA Division III in pass completions per game, passing yards and passing yards per games. Whitworth achieved at least nine victories in one season for only the fifth time in school history in 2015, a year in which the Pirates ranked among the top five in all of NCAA Division III in turnover margin and in sacks per game.
Highlights from the 2014 season included two NCAA Division III records by QB Bryan Peterson in a win at La Verne, a 61-45 Homecoming victory over previously unbeaten Willamette and a 62-30 victory over Puget Sound that included seven interceptions.
Sandberg served as Wheaton College (Ill.) defensive coordinator 11 years, from 2003 through 2013, and he had been on the Thunder’s staff as the linebackers’ coach since 1995 (19 seasons). In addition he served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. Sandberg coached six different players to eight NCAA Division III All-America honors and 49 All-Conference players during his tenure at Wheaton.
Wheaton made the NCAA Division III playoffs five times during Sandberg’s tenure as defensive coordinator. The team never lost a first round playoff game and reached the Division III semifinals in 2008 and quarterfinals in 2003.
Sandberg’s 2007 and 2013 squads led the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, regarded as one of the strongest football leagues at the Division III level, in scoring defense. The Thunder were second in the league in scoring defense five other times.
As the Wheaton defensive coordinator, Sandberg helped develop Andy Studebaker (DL, 2006), Pete Ittersagen (DB, 2007 and 2008) and Brandon Dykstra (DL 2012) to All-American honors. Studebaker is in his sixth season in the NFL, currently with the Indianapolis Colts. As the linebacker coach, Sandberg guided Chip Parrish (1995-96), J.D. Leman (2000) and Justin Knapp (2002) to All-America honors.
Sandberg graduated from Wheaton in 1991, where he majored in Psychology and participated in varsity football and track and field. He was a football team captain in 1990 and a two-time All-CCIW honoree.
Following graduation, Sandberg went into football coaching as an assistant at Aurora University (1991) and then as an assistant at Georgetown College (Ky.) in 1993-94.
Coach Sandberg and his wife Amy have two sons, Derek and Toby.