It will be a weekend of business and pleasure for Bison football
FARGO — The weekend for North Dakota State's football team will begin with a national championship ring ceremony and football scrimmage beginning at 6 p.m. Friday night, April 26. It will end for head coach Matt Entz Sunday afternoon at Target Field in Minneapolis when the Minnesota Twins will honor the Bison for their Division I FCS title.
Entz will throw out the ceremonial first pitch with the following mandate from his two sons: Don’t do something like throw it over the catcher’s head.
“I was advised by my youngest son, 'Dad, please don’t be on the Not Top 10,'” Entz said.
The ESPN SportsCenter “Not Top 10 Plays of the Week” recognizes the blooper angle in sports. To avoid potential ridicule, Entz said earlier this week he planned on getting a few throws in with his two sons.
“If I throw anything that’s not a strike, I’ll hear about it the rest of the day,” he said.
It will be the third time the Twins have recognized a Bison title. Former head coach Chris Klieman threw out the first pitch in 2016 and current associate head coach Randy Hedberg had the honors last year. Neither threw a strike; Klieman’s toss was wide and Hedberg’s pitch was low.
“And maybe in the dirt a little bit,” Entz said.
Friday’s event at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome will be a combination of celebration and business. Fans will receive a commemorative poster. Kids 12 and under are invited to design their own poster of NDSU mascot Thundar celebrating a seventh title with the winner getting a free Junior Bison Club membership for next season and there will be more than $500 in drawings and giveaways.
Admission is free.
On the field, the scrimmage will have moments of live tackling, mostly between backup players.
“There’s some evaluation going on,” Entz said. “There are some backup roles we’re trying to identify and a placekicking job out there right now. We track everything through the course of spring so it’s just not one day or an accumulation of one day’s worth of information but all 15 practices.”
The first team players will scrimmage, but wrapping an offensive play up will constitute a tackle. One of the goals, Entz said, is to get to the eight-week summer conditioning program with as many healthy players as possible.
“I compare it to baseball a little bit,” he said. “There’s a pitch count for pitchers. Well, there has to be somewhat of a hit count and tackle count and block count for our guys, too. We can’t just go tackle, hit and do all the things we wish we could do every day because it’s going to accumulate and you’re not going to be as good of a football team in the fall. So I’d rather give up a little bit in the spring to make sure we’re healthy and ready to go in August.”