Sunday LIVE Chat

Another busy week has come and gone in NDSU athletics, from the hiring of a new basketball coach at NDSU, the renovation of the Bison Sports Arena to the first scrimmage of the spring football season, we’ll discuss it all at 10pm Central tonight!


Bison First Scrimmage Highlights

Impressive showing for some players yesterday at NDSU’s first scrimmage ranging from unknown Melvin DeSouza to known commodities like Chase Morlock. Carson Wentz is entrenched as the starting quarterback, but strong showings from Tyler Wrice, Chris Board, Alex Hahn and Dee Gray. We’ll be back later today with our usual Sunday chat beginning at 10pm Central.

The Next Step

Now that NDSU has made a decision on head coach, the first order of business for Dave Richman is to make sure the four signed incoming freshmen intend to honor their commitment. Mark Miller from reported Thursday that Paul Miller intends to keep his commitment to NDSU for next year. I spoke with Germantown (WI) head coach Steve Showalter today he said that Jake Showalter (his son) and Evan Wesenberg plan to meet with the Bison coaches about their status. Have not heard any change of commitment from Prior Lake’s Jon Sobaski, the other signed commitment. NDSU has two scholarships left to play with, a JUCO big man is coming in for a visit this weekend for Richman to look at.

Some other news tonight; the rumor that we heard over the weekend became official as Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari resigned as head coach of the Leathernecks. The full story is here from Peoria, with comments from Molinari, confirming he is joining Tim Miles’ staff at Nebraska.

Jim Molinari has resigned from Western Illinois to join Tim Miles at Nebraska.

Molinari leaves Macomb after completing revamping that program, the Leathernecks were bad for a while, but he turned the team into nearly an NCAA tourney team, losing to SDSU in the Summit League final in 2012. WIU made back to back CBIs in 2012 and ’13.

With Molinari leaving, that makes five of the current eight Summit League schools that will have new coaches in 2014-15. NDSU (Dave Richman); USD (Craig Smith); IPFW (Jon Coffman); IUPUI (Jason Garnder) and now WIU. It’s a league that we have got used to schools going back and forth, and now coaches are on the move and that’s a good sign that you have successful teams in a successful league. Add in Oral Roberts, who’s had a solid team for years and what you have is a pretty solid league that’s more stable than it was even 12 months ago.

Lastly, this story seemed crazy 12 months ago when first blogged about, but now it seems there is some serious steam about the possibility about Missouri State moving up to FBS and join the Sun Belt Conference. Brent Thibodeaux, who covers Texas State football for Rivals, tweeted Wednesday that the Sun Belt is hopeful for a 12th school in this order: James Madison – 1st, Missouri State – 2nd and Liberty a distant 3rd.


While this news may shock or at least surprise some Bison fans, we’ve been hearing the rumors about Missouri State for a while. The renovation of Plaster Field is a real thing, they have a live camera that you can see the construction going on in Springfield. The Bears have not tore up FCS in recent years, 25-42 since 2008, Mo State won five games this past season, the most since 2010. The Sun Belt is eager to add a 12th school so that the league can stage a championship game at the end of the year for added revenue, and the reason why this is happening and soon is because the deadline to move up for 2015 is June 1st. The actual geographic footprint makes sense for the Sun Belt, despite the additions of two schools in Georgia and one in North Carolina, the rest of the league isn’t that far from Missouri (2 in Arkansas, 2 in Louisiana, 2 in Alabama, 2 in Texas). Western Kentucky is leaving for Conference USA on July 1, but with the additions of Georgia Southern and App State, the league will sit at 11 for this coming football season. We’ve known for a while that James Madison has been sought after, I don’t believe the Sun Belt is their fit, I think they want C-USA, and join their rivals from Old Dominion. As crazy as this is to think, this could happen and soon.

I’ll leave this post with this thought. If Missouri State does decide to leave, that brings the Missouri Valley Football Conference back to 9 teams. On one had you can return to a format where each team plays everybody. On another hand, there could be a possibility that if Mo State is gone, is it inconceivable to think that Patty Viverito and Tom Douple get on the same page and talk to UND? The Summit League would love to get to an even number and that would get them 10. I know Bison fans you can freak out know, but that’s why it’s a blog. Enjoy.

Dave Richman Named Head Coach

It was a short turnaround, but at the end of the day NDSU believes they found the right guy in Wahpeton native Dave Richman. Richman has agreed to a five year contract, paying him 190 thousand dollars a year. Here’s my one on one interview with the new Bison coach from Tuesday night.

Sunday Live Chat

What to discuss tonight? Saul Phillips it out and who’s in? Jeff and me with our thoughts and your questions, weekly live chat starts at 10 pm Central here!


Phillips To Ohio

The coaching carousel has now fully engulfed Fargo, first football, then women’s basketball and now men’s basketball. Jason Arkley from the Athens Messenger first reported late Saturday night that Ohio University was set to hire Saul Phillips as its new men’s basketball coach.

Saul Phillips is heading to Ohio to become the new head coach of the Bobcats, leaving the Bison after seven years.

Phillips heads to Athens, Ohio and inherits a team that won 25 games this past season and head coach Jim Christian left earlier this week for the Boston College job. The Ohio job has been a clear level jumping job for the the last two coaches, John Groce took Ohio to the Sweet 16, then left for Illinois, and now Christian heads to the ACC with Boston College. Christian had a base salary of 425 thousand, he was the highest paid coach in the MAC, now Phillips likely won’t be paid that much,but we can expect a serious pay increase when we get the official announcement, likely on Sunday.

UPDATE: ESPN reports that Phillips has signed a five year contract at Ohio that will pay him 550 thousand dollars a year, Phillips told me that the deal came together late Saturday night.

Here’s an official statement from Phillips on the Ohio website: “I am extremely excited about the future of Ohio basketball and I am elated to have a chance to add to its rich tradition,” Phillips said. “This is an outstanding university in a terrific community. I share the vision of the administration as to what the enormous potential is of this storied program. I simply cannot wait to start working with our players and helping them reach their potential. I want our fans and my players to know that I will pour maximum energy and enthusiasm into Bobcat basketball.”

Athletic Director Jim Schaus: “The hiring of Saul Phillips as the next head men’s basketball coach for Ohio is indeed a tremendous hire for us,” Schaus said. “I am just ecstatic to be able to welcome a coach with his experience and success to Bobcat Nation. Saul is passionate, energetic, a great communicator and is inspiring. He has a reputation as an excellent recruiter and players coach. His North Dakota State team had many big wins including a win over Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. I am confident about Saul helping us build Bobcat Basketball to new heights of excellence. I can’t for him wait to get started!”

SUNDAY UPDATE: Spoke with Gene Taylor from Arlington this morning, told me he was hopeful when some jobs were filled that perhaps Phillips would be safe, but knew when the Ohio job opened and they were going to visit with him, “it be hard not to hire him.” Taylor added that by university law they have to open the job up, but also will visit with associate head coach Dave Richman, says on him: “Dave’s been part of two staffs here, he’s a had a big impact, certainly talk with Dave, very impressive young man, he’s had a lot to do with coaching success.”

As for NDSU, Phillips leaves with a 134-84 career record, two NCAA Tournament trips, a NCAA Tourney win and three consecutive postseason trips. The question now becomes on who will take over the NDSU program? This is a good job, far better than when Phillips took over in 2007. I have to think associate head coach Dave Richman will get a long and serious look from Gene Taylor, he’s been Saul’s right hand man and from what I’ve been told, wants the job badly. We’ll see on that front, more coming tomorrow, but now both basketball jobs are open at NDSU.


Sunday Live Chat

After a couple of busy Sundays from the Selection Show to traveling, the Sunday Live Chat returns at 10pm Central tonight, join Jeff Kolpack and me for an hour of fun talking NDSU, March Madness and the FCS!


Bison Video Blog: Spring Sitdown with Chris Klieman

Spring ball begins on Saturday, Jeff and I had our first visit with Chris Klieman as head coach, you can watch a majority of our interview below, covering a range of topics from his challenges to the players he believes will stick out by the spring game. Couple of headlines:

  • 9 players will not practice this month: CJ Smith, Adam Keller, Carlton Littlejohn, Travis Beck, Zack Johnson, Colten Heagle, DeSean Warren, Luke Albers and Nate Moody.
  • Majority of practices will be held Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays because of class schedules (most will not be open to the public, with exception of a scrimmage, maybe two).
  • Position changes: Joe Haeg has moved from right tackle to left tackle, replacing Billy Turner, Jack Plankers listed as the starter at right guard, with Landon Lechler at right tackle. Jeremy Kelly is listed as his backup, watch Kelly, comes from Crookston, know the coaches are high on him. Alex Hahn has been moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, Klieman says they like his quickness and explosion. Klieman added that Esley Thorton will get plenty of reps at middle linebacker with Littlejohn out, he’s added another 10 pounds and they are counting on Thorton to take the next step.
  • Carson Wentz is the starter, but watch the backup race between Derek McGinnis and Cole Davis, wouldn’t be surprised if Davis is the number two by the spring game. 

Some Times Set

The continuous sports season continues this year for NDSU fans and for the people that cover Bison athletics; as spring football begins on Saturday with plenty of question marks and some terrific storylines worth following that we’ll chronicle over the next month. Wednesday NDSU released its game times for the home portion of its 2014 schedule, which has no night games; 11 of the last 12 during the regular season have been played during the day. (Robert Morris – 2012 opener was at night)

Zach Vraa and the Bison will not play a regular season night game for the second straight year.

I know in the past that’s been a point of contention for some fans; especially those that are coming from farther distances, who appreciated the fact of not leaving super early, but there is also the faction that enjoyed having the night to enjoy after the game. What say you Bison fans about no night home games? There may only be two night games on the schedule altogether, South Dakota and Weber State have not announced their games yet, while the last two trips for NDSU to Cedar Falls have both been night games, and we can probably bet that Iowa State will be an evening kickoff for TV. Bison fans haven’t seemed to mind too much over the last two years, where there has been two Friday 7pm games, an 11 am Saturday kickoff and a 4pm start after Taylor Swift was in town. I know my colleague Mr. Kolpack always prefers afternoon kickoffs.

2014 Schedule

  • August 30th      at Iowa State               TBA
  • September 6h  at Weber State            TBA
  • September 13th  Incarnate Word     2:30pm
  • September 20th  Montana                2:30pm
  • September 27th   BYE
  • October   4th   at Western Illinois        3:00pm
  • October 11th   Southern Illinois      1:00pm
  • October  18th  Indiana State            2:30pm
  • October 25th   at South Dakota           TBA
  • November 1st  SDSU                        2:30pm
  • November 8th  at UNI                           TBA
  • November 15th at Missouri State         2:00pm
  • November 22nd Youngstown St.     2:30pm 

The New Names

The applications for the open women’s basketball position at NDSU will close tomorrow at 6pm, although the job will remain open until it’s filled.

Applications for the open women’s basketball head coaching position will end on Tuesday.

Some new names have come in after Jeff’s first sifting thru the 70 names that have applied; here are just a few that stood out since we started this process:

  • Andrew Stephens – last job I could find was Director Of Operations at Texas Southern 2011-12
  • Jeff Lorenz – Milwaukee Area Technical College Women’s Head Coach
  • Lisa Willis – Assistant Coach at NAIA’s Montreat College in North Carolina, played at UCLA and with the LA Sparks in WNBA
  • Doug Porter – Assistant Coach at North Central College (D3) in Naperville, Illinois
  • Brad Rideout – Assistant Men’s Coach at Shippensburg College (2012-13)
  • Micha Thompson – Assistant Coach at Utah State, also assistant at Oral Roberts.
I’m not sure what to make of these candidates or the ones previous, Tom Goehle also has put his name in to the hat, he in my opinion is responsible for the three best players on the women’s roster (Brooke LeMar, Marena Whittle and Bree Whatman); not sure if he’ll be considering most fans probably want complete distance from previous staff. We’ll see what happens, will update will final applicants likely on Wednesday.