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.