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—North Dakota State is on the stretch run toward another Missouri Valley Football Conference title. But there's also more than Illinois State on the minds of the coaches this week. The new early signing period is a little more than one month away. And, in something the NDSU athletic department has done on a regular basis, it recently emailed a list of "NCAA compliance reminders" to its fan base. Essentially, it's a snapshot of items that boosters are not allowed to do for prospective student-athletes.
FARGO—It was the spring of 2016 when Ty Brooks was wondering where he was going to fit into the North Dakota State lineup. On the first day of spring practice, for instance, he was playing cornerback. It wasn't too much longer when he was moved back to running back, where he spent his redshirt season on the scout team. Offense. Defense. Offense. Kick return guy. Where was the Fargo South graduate going to play? "We didn't know what he was going to be," said head coach Chris Klieman. We found our answer on Saturday, Nov. 11.
FARGO—It was during practice in North Dakota State spring football when Keenan Hodenfield went up for a ball and came down wrong on his foot. Really wrong. His cleats stuck in the turf while his body continued to twist. The result was something you don't want to see—and nobody on the team did, either. Tight end Jeff Illies said he saw the replay on tape. And? "You don't want to know," Illies said. "Let's just say that it was pretty gruesome."
FARGO — It was at the point in the story when ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi begins to outline a question to Carson Wentz by saying three words: "He was buried ..." The thought was too much for the former North Dakota State star, who displayed some raw emotion rarely seen in a professional player in any sport. Wentz teared up, dropped his head with the bill of his "AO1" cap shielding his eyes from the camera and then proceeded to talk about a 10-year-old boy who was put to rest wearing his No. 11 Philadelphia Eagles jersey.
FARGO—The North Dakota State men's basketball program got its guard up during the NCAA early signing period on Wednesday. The Bison signed three backcourt players to letters of intent. Two are from a prime recruiting territory in the Twin Cities and another is from just across the border in Wisconsin. "Those guys understand the background, history and tradition of North Dakota State," said head coach Dave Richman.
FARGO—For the first time this season, North Dakota State lost a football game last weekend, to a rival no less in South Dakota State. In head coach Chris Klieman's playing days in the late 1980s, the fallout for players would probably have been a few buddies on his dorm floor talking about it. It's a new age, now.
FARGO—North Dakota State woke up on Sunday morning, Nov. 5, with a feeling they haven't experienced all season: dealing with a loss. But for the last eight years, it hasn't lingered. The last time the Bison lost two consecutive football games was Oct. 17 and 24 in 2009, when they lost at South Dakota State and at home to Missouri State. It was the latter end of a five-game losing streak in a season that ended 3-8.
BROOKINGS, S.D.—South Dakota State's trio of stars came to play on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 4, and the Dakota Marker will remain in the Brookings for another year. Quarterback Taryn Christion, tight end Dallas Goedert and receiver Jake Wieneke were big-play machines and the Jackrabbits defeated North Dakota State 33-21 before an enthusiastic 18,130 fans at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Christion threw for 339 yards and Goedert caught seven of those for 116 yards.
FARGO — When it comes to two college football teams playing for some sort of trophy, nobody is better at it than the Big Ten Conference. The league has 18 games where some sort of prize is up for grabs. The University of Minnesota, for instance, plays Nebraska for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy, Penn State for the Governor's Victory Bell, Michigan for the Little Brown Jug and Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan's Axe. It's getting to the point where almost half of the Gophers' games are fought for something besides a victory.
FARGO—In a late-night snapshot to the Division I FCS playoff race, the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee gave a stretch-run look at the 24-team playoff field on Thursday night, with North Dakota State sitting in the lead pack. The Bison were ranked second behind James Madison with three weeks to go in the regular season in the first of three playoff rankings that the committee will release.