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Offline pmp6nl

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Bison Football vs Minnesota
« on: October 19, 2007, 04:04:28 pm »
Bison Football!

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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Bison Football vs Minnesota
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2007, 04:05:13 pm »
From Minneapolis:

Quote
StarTribune.com
Warning to Gophers: Here come the Bison

Success on the football field at North Dakota State has transformed the school's identity and ignited passions on the prairie. The Bison play the Gophers on Saturday at the Dome.

By Rachel Blount, Star Tribune

Last update: October 18, 2007 11:23 PM
FARGO, N.D.


The discussion of the farm bill would have to wait. So would the talk about the new home proposed for the North Dakota State University president. Tuesday morning, the most pressing concern for talk-show host Ed Schultz was how to keep the football coach in Fargo.

"You ought to be getting $1 million a year," Schultz said to NDSU coach Craig Bohl, who was making his first of three radio appearances that day. "I'm trying to get you a raise."I'm just trying to keep my job," Bohl said with a laugh. When he tried to leave the KFGO-AM studio, though, the group of well-wishers that surrounded him showed just how secure his position is. With a 6-0 record, a No. 1 national ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) and a date against the Gophers on Saturday, Bohl and his Bison have led the university's rush into a new era.

The team's turnaround has set the standard for a university-wide transformation, which includes a move from NCAA Division II athletics to Division I and a dramatic increase in research expenditures and doctoral programs. Before Bohl's arrival, the Bison finished 2-8 in 2002. They enter Saturday's game at the Metrodome with a 10-game winning streak, the longest current string in major-college football, and the support of a state that had been largely skeptical of the vision laid out by Bohl and the school's administration.

"When the football team came through with some big wins early on, a lot of the critics got very quiet," said NDSU President Joe Chapman, who led the charge for change. "This has opened us up to national media. It's given our alumni an enormous source of pride. We are a totally different institution now, and athletics are a part of that."

About 20,000 Bison fans are expected to swarm the Dome to see whether their team can avenge last year's 10-9 defeat, NDSU's only loss in the past two seasons. As many as 6,000 could show up for a pre-game party in Minneapolis. Bars and restaurants throughout Fargo planned to open early for the 11 a.m. kickoff, and local media reported a run on satellite TV installations by homeowners eager to watch the game.

"It was imperative for us to get football healthy, and we took an aggressive approach," Bohl said. "To get this transition rolling, we needed to change the mindset long term. The best way to do that was to start winning football games."

Football spurs fundraising

Chapman, in his ninth year as NDSU president, is not a rabid sports fan. He does believe in the power of athletics to market a university, to rally its students and alumni and to mold its image.

NDSU, Chapman believed, had outgrown its roots as a regional institution and needed to think big in all areas. His campuswide initiative has helped the school expand from 15 doctoral programs to 42, and from $42 million in research expenditures to more than $100 million in recent years. Chapman understood the athletic program's shift to Division I would help show NDSU's new face to the nation -- but to do it, school officials needed to gain public support.

Athletic Director Gene Taylor said his budget totaled $6.2 million in 2003, NDSU's last year in Division II. This year's budget is $10.5 million. The school receives no state funding for sports, and the athletic department got only small increases from the school and student fees.

That meant much of the cost of reclassification would have to be privately financed. A successful football program could drive fundraising and rally support from a fan base worried that the Bison would not be able to compete at a higher level. To rebuild football, school officials knew they needed to provide improved facilities, more money for recruiting and staff and the Football Championship Subdivision maximum of 63 scholarships as soon as they could.

A significant victory over I-AA power Montana in Bohl's first season in 2003 reignited excitement about the program and aided the school's aggressive marketing effort. The Team Makers athletic booster club surpassed its goal by raising $1.7 million this year, up from $750,000 a few years ago. Senior associate athletic director Erv Inniger met with a donor this week who had pledged $200,000 toward the football facility, and he said the athletic department had increased its endowed scholarships from 24 in 2002 to 95 this year.

"I even had one guy come to my house to give me a check," Inniger said. "Football took all the doubts away. It changed the whole attitude."

Last season, the Bison finished 10-1, won the Great West Football Conference title and ended the season ranked No. 5 in Division I-AA. Season-ticket sales increased from 5,600 last year to 7,000 this year, and the Bison have played before sellout crowds in their past four games at the Fargodome, which holds 18,700.

"Things really have gone beyond my expectations," Taylor said. "When we first started looking at this, [public support] was 50-50 at best. People that were nonbelievers now believe, and they've seen good things come from this."

The leader of Bison's rise

With his shaved head and tailored suits, Bohl, 49, has become the face of NDSU's renaissance. He has flown all over the state in his private plane, visiting all of its high schools and many of its towns, and preaching his goal of winning a national championship in the Bison's first year of Championship Subdivision playoff eligibility.

That won't happen until next year. The NCAA requires a five-year transition period for schools shifting to a new classification. That meant Bohl's first recruiting classes were composed of players willing to build the program while forfeiting their own chance to win an NCAA championship.

The coach found them in the Dakotas, in Minnesota, in Wisconsin and Texas, playing nine-man football and stacking hay bales. Bohl assembled hard-working young men with untapped potential who had been bypassed by higher-profile programs. The combination of his dynamic personality with greater resources -- including a $3.4 million office and locker room complex, improved conditioning and academic-support programs, and a budget that has grown from $800,000 to $2.4 million -- made for rapid success.

"We got guys who wanted to be here and guys who wanted to work hard, and we made sure they had what they needed to become successful," said Bohl, who interviewed for the Gophers' head coaching job after Glen Mason was fired. "Last year, when we played the Gophers, a lot of our players had questions in their mind about whether they belonged in that arena. They know now they have an opportunity to compete."

The Bison have 33 Minnesotans on their roster, many of whom were part of last year's loss that ended when the Gophers blocked Shawn Bibeau's field-goal attempt. Bohl said the disappointment of that game, and the fact that none of his players was offered a scholarship by the Gophers, has provided some inspiration. So, too, will all the green and gold in the Metrodome.

"I had a chance to go to [a sporting goods store] this week, and everyone was talking about the Gophers game and buying their NDSU stuff," said junior linebacker Mike Maresh of Champlin. "Fargo is going to be a ghost town Saturday."

Rachel Blount 612-673-4389

GOPHERS VS. BISON

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Metrodome

TV: Big Ten Net

Radio: 830-AM

Rachel Blount rblount@startribune.com

2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.


« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 04:09:03 pm by pmp6nl »
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Bison Football vs Minnesota
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2007, 04:09:19 pm »
Sorry I was excited and had to post this.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Bison Football vs Minnesota
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2007, 06:09:38 pm »
Quality is a bit low, but the message is there.  What a great day for the state as a whole!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CGd_f7K1zI[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GNk8EDKFCw[/youtube]
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