Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO—A familiar face in a purple North Alabama polo shirt was roaming the green-and-gold dominated tailgate area outside the Fargodome late Saturday morning, Sept. 15. When Dan Summy was at North Dakota State in the 1990s, he was an assistant athletic director who did some productive hand-shaking with the local boosters. The fundraising has morphed into a well-oiled machine at North Dakota State University, in much the same manner the football program has since it left NCAA Division II.
FARGO — North Dakota State had just committed its only turnover of the game against Cal Poly, a fumble, and the Mustangs took over at the Bison 7-yard line in the season opener two weeks ago. It was the fourth quarter and the visitors' first touchdown was well within sight. Moreover, NDSU had its backups in the game. In the case of defensive ends Spencer Waege and Logan McCormick, they were considered third-stringers. You would have never known it.
FARGO — There were a few people who wondered at the pace Joe Chapman was scurrying around Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Sept. 6, 2003, that he might have been considering running back to Fargo from Bozeman, Mont. The 25-24 victory by Division II North Dakota State over Division I FCS power Montana was that important to the former NDSU president. The school was in need of an attitude changer for the fans, many of whom were still skeptical of the athletic department's announcement in 2002 that it was going to start a Division I reclassification in 2003.
FARGO — The floor in the Cully's Kids Cabin Playroom at the Sanford Children's Hospital is a replica of a hockey rink, thanks to the work of Matt Cullen and his foundation. Standing on a goalie crease, not far from a light fixture of hockey sticks, including an Easton brand stick, the starting quarterback at North Dakota State was forced to call an audible and this one had nothing to do with a 280-pound defensive lineman snorting fire.
FARGO — The routine is the same, it has been since Cam Pedersen was a freshman in high school in Eau Claire, Wis. At North Dakota State, he kicked his first extra point on Sept. 12, 2015, after a Carson Wentz 27-yard touchdown run and the process has rarely gotten off track since.
FARGO — It has its own nickname in the laurels of North Dakota State football playoff history. It was the 2000 NCAA Division II semifinals at Delta State (Miss.) and torrential rains left the Delta Devils' field in a state of mush. It was called the "Kitty Litter Game," mainly because that was what the field resembled — a box of cat litter. Chris Willis was there, a fledgling assistant coach with Delta State who was just getting his feet wet, so to speak, in the business. Eighteen years later, Willis will once again coach on the opposite field of the Bison.
FARGO — It's 10 straight weeks, now. It's 10 consecutive football games for North Dakota State where there will be no more thinking about going home on the weekend to help on the farm or driving the country roads looking for a place to hunt. It's all business now. And it starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, when the Bison host the University of North Alabama at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. NDSU will go into it virtually healthy as it can be, perhaps minus a nagging hamstring injury to backup running back Seth Wilson.
FARGO—The Missouri Valley Football Conference has had its share of King Kong moments over the last several years. The league has been a beast in the FCS not only with one member winning national titles but an overall balance that was better than anybody else. Take away Missouri State and everybody has made the FCS playoffs at least once since 2009. Take away MSU and Southern Illinois and everybody has reached postseason at least once since 2014. In the immortal words of MC Hammer, you can't touch that.
FARGO—It's an old cliche of a long snapper in football that caused Ross Kennelly and his dad, Paul, to share a laugh together last Saturday. Nobody heard Ross' name being called—and that's a good thing. He was on the money with all seven extra points and each of Garret Wegner's three punts in the 49-3 season-opening victory against Cal Poly. It was the sophomore's first game as the Bison long snapper after stumbling onto the job almost by accident.
FARGO — Josh Duhamel was a very good football and basketball player in his day at Minot High, certainly a better athlete than he is a coin flipper. The actor and North Dakota native lost the pre-game flip at midfield at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, with a Cal Poly player calling the correct side. Duhamel could have redeemed himself if he was a master electrician, but it took some guy at the lighting corporate headquarters in the Twin Cities to talk the dome folks to fix the lights going out. The official word was possible processor error, or something like that.