In this week’s edition of My Thoughts Exactly, Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson explains why the Friday kick off for North Dakota State University football team should be celebrated and dreaded.
In the two weeks leading up the Football Subdivision Championship it was said, sometimes loudly, that the North Dakota State University Football team wasn’t getting the type of coverage they deserved.
Especially in the Quarterfinals, when one of the FCS playoff games appeared on ESPN2 and another on ESPN. Meanwhile, the Bison were relegated to ESPN3 two weeks in a row. Both games, wins by NDSU, didn’t get the opportunity to grab the attention of even the casual college football fan.
Now NDSU gets the chance with a Friday night game on ESPN2, a channel that you are going to find on even the most basic of cable packages these days. All you who griped, here is the opportunity to show the nation what NDSU is about.
This truly is something that the fans of NDSU and the athletic department alike need to embrace. For the fans, you can show the nation that Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome is more than just a barn, as a grumpy old University of North Dakota fan referred to it.
To that grumpy old UND fan, whatever it is your school calls a “football” team plays in is not a football stadium. It looks more like what your schools flight program uses to house their planes.
For the football team, the defense will have a chance to show off some of their better players. Players like Marcus Williams and Billy Turner are already on the radar of NFL teams. Players like Grant Olson, a guy who set a school record with 29 tackles against Wofford College last week, will get a chance to show off his skills.
It is the perfect storm for a player like him because a game like last week will grab the attention of scouts. Now, he gets a chance to prove that performance is more a reality then just an anomaly. The opponent, Georgia Southern, runs a triple option and will run the ball upwards of 60 times a game.
Of course, there is a negative to the game being played on such a quick turnaround. Especially for NDSU, who could use the full week of rest due the physicality of last week’s game with Wofford.
Now, after getting run at 51 times, your run defense has to prepare itself, mentally and physically, for the punishment that they will endure over 60 minutes. It doesn’t help that the team you’re facing remembers how embarrassed they were last year in the same situation.
The different intangibles that ride on this game, week of graduation, national televised game and trying to prepare for a unique offense, give this game more storylines than a daytime soap opera.
The Friday game is odd in the sense that college football was meant to be played on a Saturday and NDSU has followed that script for the last three years. Now, it is a quick turnaround for a team trying to make room on the shelf of not only the school’s, but FCS’s most successful teams in history.
I’ll say this in my closing, if you are a NDSU fan, student, alumni, teammaker or member, there is no room for grumbling about this opportunity. Frankly, this is two years in the making and if the Bison don’t make the most of this game, it is a huge disappointment.
Pressure is on for the program in a major way. Let us see if they can rise to the occasion.
Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson is the producer of the Mike McFeely Show, which can be heard 2-5 p.m. every weekday on 790 KFGO. You can follow him on Twitter @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook.