A Tremendous Trio

Saturday marks the start of the conference season for NDSU and with it, a milestone for three of NDSU’s defensive stalwarts. Kyle Emanuel, Travis Beck and Christian Dudzik will each play in their 50th career game for the Bison this weekend. Think of that number, 50. If your an average FCS team the most you can hope for is 44 and these guys have 50 and we’re just four games into this season. Emanuel, Dudzik and Beck all are part of the incredible 2010 recruiting class and redshirted that season, now in place as NDSU’s mainstays on the defense. I wanted to feature each of them and highlight what in my mind where their biggest plays to date in their NDSU careers.


Emanuel’s arrival to Bison fans came in late October 2011, it what I billed as the biggest game in the history of the Fargodome, 2nd ranked Northern Iowa facing 3rd ranked NDSU. The Bison had not beaten UNI in the three previous meetings since NDSU joined the Valley, and Kolpack and I each picked against the Bison at home. Emanuel made a huge play, thanks to Beck, who forced a fumble, Emanuel scooped and scored and the Dome as we know it would never be the same. The loudness of the crowd was something not before heard, as NDSU would go to win that game and eventually a first D1 title. Emanuel’s other major play came last year in Frisco, Towson had driven to the NDSU 24 and was going to try a field goal, when Colten Heagle blocked the kick and Emanuel scooped it up and ran down the same sideline Beck had run two years earlier, Emanuel ran down to the Towson five, NDSU scored on the next play and the game was over. His speed and strength has been on display in the first five games so far this year with five sacks in four games and being named to Buck Buchanan Watch List. Emanuel was one of the early recruits out of Nebraska and has turned into one of NDSU’s best.


He’s NDSU’s Iron Man, never missing a game since debuting in the lineup for the Bison in the fall of 2011. The big story when Dudzik debuted was he being moved from safety to cornerback after Brendin Pierre was academically ineligble and the rest they say is history. Dudzik went to become a member of the Conference Newcomer Team and got better as the season went along, his standout play in my mind was in the 2011 playoffs and his 30 yard interception return vs Lehigh. He has continued to impress Bison fans with his speed over the last couple of years, adding punt returner to his arsenal, that was on display last October at Indiana State, where he returned two punts for touchdowns. His leadership may be his biggest value and maybe his biggest play was two weeks ago with the interception vs Montana. You could even nominate his pick versus Iowa State right before the half, that swung the momentum again and gave NDSU another three right before the half. His versatility is still being explored as he ran a few plays on offense against Montana, another Nebraska recruit and one of the best that’s ever played in NDSU’s secondary.


Bar none, one of the toughest players in NDSU history. Beck enters his 50th career game fully healthy, which is a rarity for him, not because he’s brittle, but because of how hard the man plays. Look no further than last year at Kansas State, his leaping thru the air play to try and sack Jake Waters was replayed over and over, it came at great cost to Beck, who injured his shoulder and told me this week, he went in easy on tackles last year because of it. He’s a North Dakota legend for all-time thanks to his interception return and MVP performance in the 2011 FCS Championship Game and it bears repeating he was just a redshirt freshman at the time. He was the man that stripped the ball that led to Emanuel scoring the back breaking touchdown versus Northern Iowa, and he saved an even better performance against UNI a year later in Cedar Falls, picking up two sacks and two more tackles for loss as the Bison won at UNI for the first time since 1976. Beck will play in his 50th game, made more impressive he’ll start his 44th in a row. Beck has had his off-the-field issues, but none can deny his toughness and unbelievable athleticism, another that will go down as one of NDSU’s very best on defense.


WIU had the right mentality when finding its football coach

So Kansas is looking for a head football coach and allow me to give a little advice: look for somebody who can do a lot with a little, in this case a guy who has not been spoiled by the riches of the NFL or a hot shot assistant from a Power 5 conference program. My media friends in the Twin Cities are promoting Gopher assistant Tracy Claeys, which could be a good choice since they say he’s a small-town Kansas guy. I’m taking that to mean he’d build the program the blue-collar way.

Western Illinois appears to have gotten it right in its head coach, hiring Bob Nielson from Division II Minnesota-Duluth. I suppose WIU could have found some lower-end assistant from an FBS but instead chose to go with a guy who has built programs everywhere he’s been. Duluth won two D2 national titles.

WIU athletic director Tommy Bell, when he was a fundraising guy at Southern Illinois, saw that model work with Jerry Kill, who was at a D2 for over a decade before getting the SIU job. SIU back then, by the way, was horrible, and Kill made it a national title contender.

“You get hot shots from other programs, and nothing against them, but they’ve been spoiled and are used to having nobody say no to them and not having limited budgets,” Bell told me earlier today. “Here, it’s different in the FCS. We all have limited budgets, even the Bison — they don’t have an unlimited budget — so you have to have people who know how to run programs and stretch a dollar. I’m an advocate of that. And I think it’s going to work here and we’re just in the process a little bit at a time.”

WIU is much better than the couple years prior when Nielson took over last year. If NDSU doesn’t play well, and considering it’s homecoming at WIU and the place will be nuts, stranger things have happened. But look for the Leathernecks to more closely resemble a physical Missouri Valley team in the coming years on a yearly basis — rather than the hit-and-miss of the last several seasons. That’s what you get when you hire somebody who is on their way up — and not some former hot shot offensive coordinator from the NFL or somebody who couldn’t make it work at Notre Dame.

Dom’s FCS Poll – Week 5

  1. North Dakota State       (4-0, BYE WEEK)
  2. Eastern Washington     (4-1, won at UC Davis)
  3. Montana                      (3-2, beat Northern Colorado)
  4. Southeastern Louisiana  (3-2, beat Incarnate Word)
  5. Coastal Carolina           (5-0, beat Elon)
  6. McNeese State            (2-1, beat Arkansas Tech)
  7. New Hampshire           (3-1, beat Darmouth)
  8. Villanova                      (3-1, beat Penn)
  9. Jacksonville State       (3-1, beat Murray State)
  10. South Dakota State    (3-1, BYE)
  11. Northern Iowa            (2-2, beat Tennessee Tech)
  12. Fordham                    (4-1, beat Holy Cross)
  13. William & Mary           (4-1, won at Stony Brook)
  14. Tennessee State       (4-1, beat Florida A&M)
  15. Bethune-Cookman    (3-1, beat Florida Tech)
  16. Chattanooga            (2-2, beat Samford)
  17. Montana State         (3-2, beat North Dakota)
  18. Richmond               (2-2, BYE)
  19. Southern Illinois      (4-1, beat Western Illinois)
  20. Youngstown State   (3-1, BYE)
  21. Eastern Kentucky   (4-0, BYE)
  22. Delaware               (3-1, beat James Madison)
  23. Illinois State           (3-0, beat Austin Peay)
  24. Missouri State       (3-1, BYE)
  25. Indiana State        (3-1, beat Liberty)

FCS Pick ‘Em – Week 5

The FCS Nickel has moved to our downtown studio location and the weekly winner will be displayed on the Monday video blog. No NDSU game this weekend, but still plenty of games that should have your attention, look at post from Thursday. Thanks to a big week last Saturday, we’re tied up!

                                                                               DOM (55-10)        JEFF (55-10)

  • (22) Liberty at Indiana State                        Liberty                 ISU
  • Northern Colorado at (7) Montana             Montana             Montana
  • (25) Delaware at James Madison                UD                       UD
  • North Dakota at (13) Montana State           Mont St              Mont St
  • Tennessee Tech at (10) UNI                        UNI                      UNI
  • (12) William & Mary at Stony Brook            W&M                   W&M
  • Samford at (14) Chattanooga                      Chatt                  Sam
  • Elon at (3) Coastal Carolina                         CCU                   CCU
  • Western Illinois at (17) Southern Illinois    SIU                     SIU
  • Austin Peay at (23) Illinois State                  Ill St                    Ill St
  • (2) Eastern Washington at UC Davis          EWU                    EWU
  • Maine at Towson                                           Tows                  Maine
  • Cal Poly at Northern Arizona                       NAU                    NAU
  • Mizzou at South Carolina                            USC                   USC

The NDSU Tartan Project

Matt Larsen and the tartan tie

The beauty of the newspaper business is you always learn something from someone. This week, I learned the difference between plaid and tartan thanks to my story on new NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.

In the first paragraph, I made note of what Larsen was wearing including a “plaid yellow and green tie worn by coaches and administrators over the past year.” In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast. Holly Bastow-Shoop, the head of the Department of Apparel, Design and Hospitality Management in the College of Human Development at NDSU, wrote a nice note saying the tie is tartan, not plaid. Tartan, she wrote, has been used for centuries in Scotland to represent a family clan. In the old days when at war with ones neighbors, you needed to know friend-and-foe so coloration was the key to, say, not shooting your cousin.

So from the family color theme came the NDSU Tartan Scholarship Project for students in the College of Human Development. The tartan has been designed, products produced, sourced, marketed and sold by the students, Holly writes, and is used as an educational opportunity to learn the market process. The students currently have over 20 products available. There you have it; and here I thought tartan was just a 1970s basketball arena surface.

So, if you’re interested in wearing the NDSU tartan (I will never confuse with plaid again), here is the website:

Saul Phillips and his tartan tie


To Fill The Void

I fully realize not all who read this blog are as tied to the FCS as some of us, but if you need an FCS fix this weekend, there are plenty of games on television to get you thru the day on Saturday:

Tonight (Thursday)

  • Appalachian State at Georgia Southern – 6:30pm ESPNU
  • Northern Colorado at Montana – 2:30pm  Root Sports (683 on DirecTV)
  • Nicholls State at Central Arkansas (Purple Turf Warning!) – 3pm Altitude (681)
  • Delaware at James Madison – 3:00pm Comcast (Channel 642)
  • Tennessee Tech at Northern Iowa – 4:00pm Comcast (Channel 665-1)
  • Maine at Towson – 6:00pm Comcast (Channel 642)
That’s a pretty good swath of games for the FCS to get on TV, I’ll be moving out of the bunker on Saturday, but hopeful to catch some of these games.

Bison Video Blog: Matt Larsen Introduced As Athletic Director

It was an impressive performance by new Athletic Director Matt Larsen this morning at NDSU as he was officially introduced as the man to replace Gene Taylor. Larsen seemed confident and humble and eager for the challenge that awaits him with this position. Jeff and I discuss the presser and what’s ahead for Matt Larsen.