- The Division I powers’ decision to pay athletes has other conferences checking their books. Is there enough money to go around at schools like NDSU or at other conference foes? Read Jeff Kolpack’s report.
- The Bison wrestling team is relying on the development of underclassmen. Winners of its last three duals, the learning curve is flattening, but there’s still work to do.
- Brooke LeMar scores 26 points as the Bison women’s basketball team handles Nebraska-Omaha.
- The Bison men’s basketball team needed overtime (as well as Lawrence Alexander’s 24 points) in a road win over IUPUI.
It was interesting to say the least to listen to Fargo architect Terry Stroh go through various future expansion possibilities at the Fargodome on Wednesday, with options ranging from rather basic (adding bathrooms mainly) to the very cool (the structure pictured above) addition to the west side. Here is my story. It would include more banquet room space than the current east side addition, a rooftop patio, bathrooms, suites overlooking the field and club room space. Constructed over Albrecht Avenue, the lower level would be a climate controlled space that could be enclosed with garage doors. The white pillars seen on the street entrance would be capable of going up or down depending on if the that part of the facility is in use.
The difference, of course, is the cost. The high-end model picture here is estimated at $21.5 million and would be paid for be the dome reserve fund which is around $35 million or north of that. The trigger in all of this is the proposed convention center in Fargo and whether it will be built downtown or adjacent to the dome. My guess if it goes downtown, than the dome will probably, and should, sway toward the higher end cost of the addition in an effort to stay current. If the convention center is connected to the south end of the dome, than perhaps a less expensive west side addition would be in order. At its most basic, it would include bathrooms that could be closed off to the rest of the dome but accessible by tailgaters.
My preference would be this: If the convention center is built on to the dome, I would go with this option, which includes suites in the dome, the canopy over Albrecht Avenue with that climate controlled space that can be used by tailgating, boat shows, ag shows or whatever. Stroh said radiant heat would make it comfortable even in 20 to 30 degree days. Approximate cost: $13.9 million. Of interest: Albrecht Avenue by the dome is not claimed by the city or the dome (it’s just sort of there I guess) so there apparently would be no issues of closing it off at times.
If the convention center goes downtown, spend the money. Go with the castle version at the top of this post. It’s been proven in America over and over that if you build it, they will come. The best thing Fargo ever did was build the dome and it’s the next generation’s job to keep it one of the top venues in the Midwest.
Football fans will wonder about seating. Stroh and Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik looked at all viable options and at best said the most that could be added would be around 1,200. That would be enough. I’m of the mindset that you don’t add seats when you’re smack dab in a dynasty; wait a few years and see what happens. Fargo will never be a major FBS school and around 20,000 capacity will suit this school just fine for many years to come.
Also, to answer a couple of reader questions: new video boards are being phased in as part of an overall video upgrade. We will get into more detail with all of this Saturday morning on Kolpack and Izzo when Sobolik joins us in studio at 10 a.m. on WDAY-AM or WDAY.com.
It’s been a remarkable start for the Bison men’s basketball team, 12-6 on the season, 4-1 in the Summit League, made more remarkable by how young the team and the lack of depth on this squad, NDSU is playing just seven guys regularly. One of the main reasons why the Bison sit on top of the Summit standings is Bismarck’s Dexter Werner, who I profiled yesterday:
The Summit League standings heading into tonight:
NDSU: 4-1 (at IUPUI, at IPFW)
SDSU: 5-2 (at ORU)
ORU: 4-2 (vs SDSU)
USD: 3-2 (at WIU)
IUPUI: 3-2 (vs NDSU, vs USD)
Denver: 3-3 (at Omaha)
WIU: 2-4 (vs USD)
IPFW: 1-5 (vs NDSU)
Omaha: 1-5 (vs Denver)
I’m sure some aren’t ready to think about 2015 just yet, but in honesty the new season begins on February 4th on signing day. We’ve got some major offseason coverage plans coming that we’ll announce later this week, and today’s post begins that coverage. Last year I predicted six teams to watch in 2014, you can go back and look at that post here. I base these rankings off of what the teams have coming back and what their respective schedules look like. These teams listed are not in any specific order.
- 1. NDSU - The four-time defending champions lose plenty of experience on the defensive side of the football, but return eight starters on offense, including four on the offensive line (also getting all-conference guard Zach Johnson back from missing all of this season). The Bison do not have an FBS game next year and their non-confernece schedule are all against Big Sky teams (Montana, Weber State and UND).
That’s where I see NDSU figuring out what they’re going to have on defense next season. The Valley doesn’t have Zach Zenner or David Johnson and the Bison bring back potential player of the year candidate Carson Wentz. NDSU needs to figure out who replaces John Crockett and who can step up at linebacker, but there are plenty of pieces back for the Bison to be contenders again in 2015.
- 2. Illinois State - It was a break thru season for Brock Spack’s team and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere in 2015. Both Tre Roberson and Marshaun Coprich are back to torture Valley defenses next season, but will need to find out who can replace Roberson’s receiving weapons as Leichen Neblett, Cameron Meredith and James O’Shaugnessy all graduate. Defensively ISU should be in good shape, as two of the Valley’s best are back in Teddy Corwin and Pat Meehan on the defensive line and linebacker. ISU opens the year at Iowa, will go to SDSU and Youngstown and of course don’t play NDSU in 2015. Everything is set up for the Redbirds to possibly be the preseason Missouri Valley favorite.
- 3. Sam Houston State - Bison fans got a first hand glimpse at the Southland favorites in 2015 and understand why they’ll be a national contender. KC Keeler’s team brings back a majority of its squad, especially on offense, quarterback Jared Johnson will be just a sophomore next year and standout wide receiver LaDarious Brown (held in check by NDSU) will be a senior. The Bearkats offensive line is nearly intact, they play at Texas Tech for their FBS game and the Southland will start a nine-game conference schedule in 2015, but they are the clear-cut favorites in that league, with the potential to be challenging for Frisco again.
- 4. Eastern Washington - Sorry FCS fans Vernon Adams is still around. The man who’s been runner-up for the Walter Payton the last two years will be the preseason pick for the award this season. The Eagles are as talented as they’ve been on offense with Adams and All-American wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Defense is always the issue with EWU, fans that watched Illinois State play them saw Coprich gash them on nearly every play. Beau Baldwin loves to play everyone and that’s the case again in 2015, the Eagles open the season at Oregon, then go to Cedar Falls to play Northern Iowa in the start of a home and home. They also play Montana State in a non-conference game. EWU will be the favorite to win the Big Sky, but I think the race for that title will be a lot closer than in past seasons.
- 5. Coastal Carolina - The Chanticleers opened my eyes and a lot of other people last year in what they did in the postseason. Plenty of fans ripped on me for rating CCU where I did during the season since their schedule wasn’t nearly as difficult as anyone in the Valley or Big Sky, and if they had not lost the season finale to Liberty, they would have been a top two seed. Quarterback Alex Ross was the second best quarterback NDSU saw last year (behind Roberson) and he’s back for another season, along with outstanding running back De’Angelo Henderson. Joe Moglia has something special going on in Myrtle Beach, they’ll have a chance to pull an upset to start the year, facing Kent State and will test themselves with an upstart Western Illinois team. Their biggest league challenge will come again from Liberty, but there’s no reason to think that the Chants won’t be a top six seed for the FCS playoffs next November.
- 6. Villanova - What could have been for the Wildcats. Walter Payton winner John Robertson missed Villanova’s quarterfinal game with Sam Houston with concussion-like symptoms and they ended up getting beat. Robertson is back for one last run and his supporting cast returns for the most part, including his standout wide receiver. The Wildcats open the year with another winnable FBS game, playing at UConn, remember Villanova lost in double OT to Syracuse to start this year. Because of the unbalanced CAA schedule, they don’t play New Hampshire again, which means their path to the title is considerably easier. Keep an eye on ‘Nova as the east coast team to make some waves.
- BONUS TEAMS - Youngstown State is the most intriguing team in all of FCS. The addition of Bo Pelini at coach makes the Penguins a must-watch in 2015. Hunter Wells is just a sophomore at quarterback and Martin Ruiz is a junior and very talented at running back. YSU plays Pittsburgh in its FBS game, and get Illinois State, SDSU and NDSU all at HOME. The Penguins make the FCS playoffs in 2015, ending a nine year drought. James Madison was the hottest team in the nation outside of Northern Iowa over the second half of the season. Vad Lee is a must-watch at quarterback, he makes the Dukes go and will terrorize CAA defenses next season. JMU does not play an FBS next season and gets Villanova at home, they’ll be the biggest challengers to the Wildcats run at the CAA.
- Defensive end Kyle Emanuel is preparing for a shot in the NFL. Coming off the East-West Shrine Game, he’s already been asked if he’d be willing to play fullback in the pros.
- More on James Hendricks’ verbal commitment to NDSU.
Bemidji High School quarterback James Hendricks makes a verbal commitment to NDSU. The dual-threat star has been a staple of the Lumberjacks’ offense.
Changed my verbal commitment to NDSU today. Excited to become a part of the Bison family! #BisonNation
— James Hendricks (@Hendricks3_) January 19, 2015
Iowa broadcaster Andy Fales stirs the NDSU pot once again. It could make you laugh, or maybe not.
Jeff and I started the 2014 season visiting with Chris Klieman in his office shortly before spring football began, so it seems fitting that we end the season with the head coach. This is the interview we did on Saturday on Kolpack and Izzo.
- North Dakota State got a huge lift on the mat from Hayden Zillmer on Sunday. The junior wrestler got a pin at 184 pounds to improve to 23-4. Later, Mitch Bengtson tied the knot on the dual victory over Boise State with a pin at 141 pounds. WDAY
- John Crockett and Kyle Emanuel played in the East-West Shrine Game in Florida. Read about their performances. See highlights here.
- The Bison women’s basketball team kept rolling at home. This time it was Kahla Becken scoring 21 points as NDSU stopped IPFW. See highlights here.
As part of our Sunday commemorative edition on the Bison’s fourth consecutive championship:
- Jeff Kolpack writes about how the season appeared in good hands (those being first-year starter Carson Wentz) after the huge win over Iowa State.
- Kevin Schnepf tells why NDSU’s season had everyone talking. From another “College GameDay” appearance in Fargo all the way to Frisco. There was magic happening right before our eyes.
- Slideshow: A game-by-game photo gallery.
Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack and Eric Peterson for the 2014 Media Blog Year End Awards Spectacular!
Great work this season by Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf, Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe, copy editors/designers Michael Smith and Andrew Gottenborg, and the writing crew of Kolpack, Peterson and Tom Mix and Chris Murphy.