The Field Is Set

The Summit League Tournament begins on Saturday at the new Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, plenty of anticipation about getting a look at the new building. Jeff and Jody Norstedt will be heading down for coverage over the weekend. Here’s a look at the brackets, let’s start with the men:

Summit League Men's Bracket

Summit League Men’s Bracket

 

NDSU will play Denver on Saturday night around 8:30. The Bison swept the Pioneers this season, but both were overtime wins, 61-54 in Fargo (that was the game where NDSU had just 16 points at halftime) and 73-69 in Denver (that was the game where Brett Olson hit a half court shot at the buzzer to force overtime). I’m not sure this the best matchup for NDSU, the Pioneers have given them a hard time this season and head coach Dave Richman told me this matchup is difficult just because of the offense and style Denver runs. The Bison will need to put Thursday’s beatdown from Oral Roberts in the rearview mirror quickly. A win on Saturday would be huge, considering the extra day off for the semifinals, no team since NDSU has entered the league has won the tournament playing three straight days.

As for the rest of the field, SDSU should get by Western Illinois, but could face a tough Fort Wayne team in the semis, the Mastodons get USD on Sunday. In NDSU’s bracket, the Bison could see Oral Roberts again if they advance, the Golden Eagles matchup with IUPUI in the late game on Sunday night. ORU eliminated NDSU from the Summit League tourney in back to back years in 2010 and 2011.

On the women’s side, NDSU enters as the six seed and will try to end a five year drought at the tournament on Sunday. The Bison have not won a game in Sioux Falls since 2009, the longest drought in the conference. NDSU faces off with Oral Roberts on Sunday at 2:30, the Bison split with the Golden Eagles, winning in Fargo in January, before losing big in Tulsa in the middle of February. ORU is led by 6’7 Vicky McIntyre (who by the way used the grad transfer rule that Vernon Adams just used at EWU; McIntyre graduated from Florida) and had 13 points and 18 rebounds against NDSU three weeks ago.

Summit League Women's Bracket

Summit League Women’s Bracket

South Dakota is the defending tourney champ and the top seed, and I may be crazy for saying it, the favorite. The Coyotes have shown all year they’re tough and not intimidated by SDSU, I think it’s the Jacks and Coyotes who will be playing next Tuesday afternoon for the dance and it has the potential of another great game.

Much more on the tournament as the week continues, I’m heading to Minot for the Girls State B Tournament, but Jeff and Jody will have you covered!

Another trip to Tulsa

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NDSU heads to Tulsa today with the opportunity to win the Summit League title tomorrow night with a win against Oral Roberts and some help from South Dakota State.

Brett Winkelman and NDSU won a huge game at Oral Roberts in 2009.

Brett Winkelman and NDSU won a huge game at Oral Roberts in 2009.

This trip takes me back six years ago when the Bison went to ORU needing a win to lock up the Summit League championship. Or so they thought. All heck broke loose the night before, when league commissioner Tom Douple informed then Bison AD Gene Taylor and coach Saul Phillips that they would have to beat the Golden Eagles to take the top seed, which was completely the OPPOSITE of what NDSU and everyone else was led to believe that week. Going in Phillips told the media that even if NDSU lost to ORU, the Bison would get the top seed because of a higher RPI rating. Douple said that was not the case and if ORU won, they would win the title. What made this news even more frustrating was at the time the Golden Eagles were humming, winners of 35 straight home conference games.

What happened remains a great night in NDSU basketball history. Ben Woodside scored 29 points, Brett Winkleman chipped in 21 and the Bison won their first Summit League championship. The trip back to Fargo lives in infamy in terms of celebration, I remember greeting the team at the airport and you could still see the excitement in their faces the next morning.

To me that signaled a changing of the guard in the Summit. Oral Roberts had won four straight regular season titles prior to NDSU winning and the Golden Eagles won just one title after that. The Bison and SDSU have combined to win four since then(counting 2015). That night signified to me and many others that the Bison were going to be a factor in the league race and it all comes full circle tomorrow night.

The Fight for First

NDSU’s men’s basketball team continues to rack up the wins at home, taking care of IUPUI last night 57-48, despite falling behind 9-2, you can watch highlights of the game here. With the win, the Bison moved back into a first place tie with SDSU at 11-3 in the Summit League, each with two games remaining, while Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts have faint hopes of making the top two. Here’s what everyone has left:

SDSU: 11-3 (Saturday vs Oral Roberts, next Saturday at USD)

NDSU: 11-3 (Saturday vs Fort Wayne, Thursday at Oral Roberts)

Fort Wayne: 8-5 (Saturday at NDSU, Thursday vs Omaha, next Saturday vs WIU)

Oral Roberts: 8-5 (Saturday at ORU, Thursday vs NDSU, next Sat. vs Denver)

It’s this simple, if NDSU and SDSU win on Saturday that means they will clinch no worse than the two seed for the Summit League Tournament, which is huge since that gives you the extra day off from the quarters to the semifinals. A win tomorrow for the Bison is anything but a foregone conclusion since the Mastodons are the hottest team in the league, winners of seven straight, they haven’t lost in a month, January 21st. I know I had a couple of people ask me about the tiebreaker procedure if the top two teams are tied, here it is straight from the Summit League:

Tiebreaker Procedures
Tiebreaker procedures shall be used ONLY to determine seeds for the League tournament. Regular season standings shall stand.

If there are multiple ties, the ties shall be broken in descending order. (i.e., a tie at the #1 position will be broken before any others).
Once a tie is broken using the procedures below, it shall remain broken for purposes of all future comparisons.
Two-team Tiebreaking Criteria. The following criteria should be applied (in order) to break ties between two teams:
Results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
Comparison of each tied team’s record against the team occupying the highest position in the standings continuing down through the standings until a team gains an advantage.
When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure) rather than the performance against individual tied teams.
If a tie still cannot be broken after applying criteria (1), (2) and (3), it will be broken by comparing each tied team’s RPI (based upon the RPIratings.com Report issued on the morning following the last regular season League game).
Multiple-Team Tiebreaking Criteria. The following criteria should be applied to break ties between more than two teams:
Results of each tied team’s collective record against the other teams tied for the same position.
If multiple ties still remain, then each tied team’s record shall be compared to the team or group (if 2 or more are tied) occupying the highest position in the standings continuing down through the standings until a team gains an advantage.
If the above results in two teams remaining, the two-team tiebreaker is used.
If a tie involving three or more teams still cannot be broken after applying criteria (1) and (2), it will be broken by comparing each tied team’s RPI (based upon the RPIratings.com Report issued on the morning following the last regular season League game.)

Western Carolina is out

NDSU is back in the business of looking for a football game. That’s after the news we broke yesterday that Western Carolina had bought out of its 2016 date in Fargo, instead scheduling a game against East Carolina for September 3rd, 2016. NDSU was scheduled to host WCU on September 1st.

NDSU and Western first agreed on a game back in August of 2011 to play it during the 2013 season. Problems arose in late 2012 when WCU scheduled three FBS opponents for the following season. The official announcement came in February of 2013 that Western had moved the game to 2016. Things seemed to be set for that date, until this came out yesterday:

NDSU Athletic Director Matt Larsen confirmed that WCU had bought out of the game with the Bison about a month ago, using the 200,000 buyout to get out of the game. That price tag had been upped by 50,000 dollars after NDSU moved the game in 2013.

Now NDSU has an opening for 2016, and already with a home date set for September 10th against Eastern Washington and September 17th at Iowa, you have to figure that this would be a home game. Home and homes seem to be the new scheduling policy for NDSU, inking deals with Weber State and EWU in recent years, but already with a road trip guaranteed in 2017 to EWU, it likely wouldn’t happen that year. The only other game that’s set beyond that is the 2019 home game with UND.

It’s also possible that NDSU goes with just a straight up game, but those have proved to be pricey in recent years. A look at what the Bison have paid to get games:

  • 2012 – Prairie View A&M – $250 K
  • 2013 – Ferris State – $180 K
  • 2013 – Delaware State – $200 K
  • 2014 – Incarnate Word – $190 K
NDSU fans will remember the 2013 dates came in the wake of two scheduling woes; first the Delaware State game was scheduled after WCU moved out and Ferris State had to come in after the Montana State fiasco. Now NDSU has 200K to throw at someone from the Western buyout, I’m curious though where NDSU goes with this. And just so we can get it out of the way, North Dakota is playing at Stony Brook that weekend.

Playing Young

The hot topic on National Signing Day brought up several times on our radio show Wednesday morning was how many true freshmen may see the field in 2015 and is that process sped up after seeing what RJ Urzendowski did in 2014?

Nate Moody is one of nine true freshmen that have played since 2011.

I decided to look back at the last four recruiting classes to see how many true freshmen played and what impact they had.

2011 – (2) DeShawn Dinwiddie and Nate Moody. Dinwiddie was the hot prospect out of Kansas, he had his redshirt pulled early in the season, playing ten games, he had eight tackles on the year. Dinwiddie transferred after his sophomore season to Emporia State, where he became an all-conference linebacker. Moody was a walk-on from Dickinson, and  after injuries to Zach Vraa and Ryan Smith, Moody was inserted into the lineup. He finished  with seven catches for 68 yards, including a two catch game at Indiana State that year.

2012 – (1) Zack Johnson. Johnson is the lone true freshman that played during the second title run, he progressively got better as the season went along, to the point where he started against South Dakota that year when Josh Colville was out with an injury.

2013 – (4) Chase Morlock, Pierre Gee-Tucker, Nick DeLuca and Brad Ambrosius. It was surprising to me on a team that had 26 seniors that four true freshmen saw the field. Chase Morlock was earmarked early in fall camp to play and play he did, running for 262 yards and two touchdowns, but also racked up eight tackles on special teams. Tucker saw action in eight games, picking up six tackles, he got hurt during the Illinois State and missed the remainder of the season. DeLuca was a special teams wizard in 2013, leading the team with 15 tackles on that unit. When he did get in at linebacker he was a presence and you could see why Bison fans were excited about what was to come. Ambrosius had his redshirt pulled during the middle of the season after an injury up front, he came in and showed some athleticism, notably at Indiana State, where he picked up his first collegiate sack. His progression will be big for NDSU in 2015.

2014 – (2) RJ Urzendowksi and Greg Menard. It can be argued that Urzendowski had the greatest freshman campaign in school history, his numbers aren’t staggering, 32 catches for 656 yards and 5 touchdowns, but it’s when he made the catches and plays that elevates his status. The SDSU touchdown grab was a moment in time no Bison fan will forget and his catches on the game winning drive against Illinois State was something out of a movie. Menard is the lesser-known of the true freshman, but he was solid as well, coming in at Weber State and getting his first tackle. Menard had a monster sack against Youngstown, he finished with three sacks and fifteen tackles but proved to the coaches that he’s ready to take over on the defensive end.

So that’s nine true freshmen that have played over the past four years; I’m not sure if there’s a ton to draw from that other than expect at least a couple to see the field in September.

 

National Signing Day 2015

It’s National Signing Day! Follow here for most of the day for updates from Twitter and feel free to post comments all day, live radio show goes from 9-11 AM on 970 WDAY!

Live Blog National Signing Day 2015
 

The Class of 2015

It’s been a process over a year in the making and tomorrow it wraps up with National Signing Day. This is a big class but literally and figuratively for NDSU, in numbers we have the list of players at 27 and because of the amount of attrition from the classes of 2011 and 2012, this is a class that will be counted on down the road. Here’s what Jeff and I have compiled since June, some of these figures may be outdated and the positions listed are what the players played in high school, NOT where they will play at NDSU.

Robbie Grimsley, Mr. Football for 2014 will sign with NDSU tomorrow.

Reminder: 970 WDAY will broadcast a special two hour show on Signing Day breaking down the class from 9-11 AM, complete with interviews from this class, including Ben Ellefson, Trenton Mooney and Brock Robbins. WDAY’Z Xtra and wday.com will broadcast LIVE Chris Klieman’s press conference on Wednesday introducing the class at 2pm and he’ll join me live during the 6:20 news.

  • Jake Brinkman – 6’0, 205 lbs LB/RB (Regina HS, Iowa City, IA)     6/23/14
  • Derrek Tuszka – 6’4, 227 lbs DE      (Warner, SD)                           6/23/14
  • Ben Ellefson – 6’3, 220 lbs   Tight End (Hawley, MN)                      7/11/14
  • Braden Sikes – 6’0, 185 lbs  Safety  (Minnetonka)                          7/25/14
  • Jaxon Brown – 6’1, 186 lbs  Safety  (Eau Claire, WI)                      7/27/14
  • Jack Darnell – 6’3, 264 lbs  Defensive Tackle (Champlin Park)      7/28/14
  • Ty Brooks – 5’9, 160 lbs   Cornerback  (Fargo South)                    7/29/14
  • Bryan Carlton – 6’3, 250 lbs Defensive End (Minnetonka)             7/29/14
  • Robbie Grimsley – 6’0, 177 lbs Corneback (Hutchinson)               7/30/14
  • Brock Robbins –  6’2, 220 lbs   Linebacker (Cavalier, ND)            8/3/14
  • Dominic Davis – 5’10, 165 lbs Defensive Back (Belleville, IL)        8/4/14
  • Marquise Bridges -5’11, 170 lbs WR (DeLaSalle H.S.)                 8/6/14
  • Zack Johnson – 6’5, 275 lbs Off. Tackle (Spring Lake Park)         8/20/14
  • Cole Karcz – 6’5, 225 lbs  Defensive End (Germantown, WI)       9/24/14
  • Cam Pedersen –  6’2, 185 lbs Kicker (Eau Claire, WI)                   11/30/14
  • Aaron Mercadel – 6’1, 181 lbs Linebacker (Berkley, CA)             12/18/14
  • Dimitri Williams – 5’11, 185 lbs RB (Rosemount, MN)                12/20/14
  • Trenton Mooney – 6’5, 258 lbs OT (Lamar, MO)                           12/20/14
  • Demaris Purifoy – 6’2, 180 lbs RB (Wauwatosa, WI)                    12/20/14
  • Bruce Anderson III – 5’11, 180 lbs RB (Lithia, FL)                       12/20/14
  • Connor Hubbs – 6’3, 265 lbs DT (White Bear Lake, MN)               1/18/15
  • James Hendricks – 6’2, 190 lbs QB (Bemidji, MN)                         1/19/15
  • Max Haskins – 6’5, 275 lbs OL (River Falls, WI)                            1/20/15
  • Michael Veldman – 6’4, 190 lbs, QB (Becker, MN)                        1/28/15
  • Jack Albrecht – 6’5, 260 lbs OL (Rolling Hills, IL)                          1/31/15
  • Andrew Trzebiatowski – 6’5, 275 lbs OL (Amherst, WI)                 1/31/15
  • Matt Anderson – 6’4, 230 lbs, TE (Stillwater, MN)                           2/1/15

Tyler Jangula passes away

Sad news on Super Bowl Sunday as one of NDSU’s first North Dakota natives to play Division 1 football passed away. Tyler Jangula, from Williston, North Dakota passed away after suffering a pulmonary embolism; coming from a blood clot in lung from surgery. Jangula was having surgery on a torn Achilles tendon. Eric Peterson has comments from Tim Polasek and Steve Walker on Jangula’s career here.

Tyler Jangula passed away Sunday after complications from surgery.

On a personal level, I met Tyler Jangula just a week after I arrived in Fargo; it was right before NDSU’s matchup with Ball State and you can sense the excitement in his voice about playing a school from the FBS. Jangula had just one catch against BSU, but it was a memorable one; a 17 yard reception that tied the game at 7. Jangula bowled over a couple of guys but in the process got hit on the knee, tearing his ACL and ending his season. He returned in 2007, starting seven games, and picked up two receiving touchdowns, including one against Minnesota on the final play of the first quarter. His pride  in the win over the Gophers shone thru that day, being a North Dakota native you could tell how big that win meant to him. Jangula finished with seven receiving touchdowns in his career and at fullback set the standard as a punishing blocker, leading the way for Kyle Steffes and then Tyler Roehl. He was a proud North Dakotan and couldn’t have been happier that he was playing for the Bison.

Here are some thoughts from Bison fans:

 

 

Flying from Cheney to Eugene?

I know plenty come to this blog for Bison info, but I’d be remised if I didn’t post anything about the biggest story out of the FCS this week, which is Eastern Washington standout quarterback Vernon Adams taking a visit to Oregon this weekend about possibly transferring to the Ducks.

Vernon Adams may transfer from Eastern Washington to Oregon.

How is this possible? For NDSU fans, go back to 2012 when cornerback Andre Martin transferred from Northern Iowa to NDSU after he graduated from UNI and was going to grad school at NDSU since the school offered a grad program that Northern Iowa didn’t. Martin was immediately eligible and was a huge factor in the Bison winning the title that year, playing in all 15 games, starting 13, his only interception a huge 37 yard return against Sam Houston State. To tie into the Super Bowl; Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson used the same rule to transfer from North Carolina State to Wisconsin in 2011. The rule states that either the player or the inquiring school must ask permission before contact can be made between a school and player under scholarship at another school.

Back to Adams. He’s been dominant at the FCS since his arrival in Cheney as a redshirt freshman in 2012, tearing up the record books at EWU and the Big Sky, leading them to back to back FCS semifinal appearances in ’12 and ’13. He’s been the runner-up for the Walter Payton award for the last two seasons and if you need further proof? Look what he’s done against the PAC-12 the last two years:

  • 2013 vs Oregon State: 23-30, 411 yds, 4 TD, 107 rush yds, 2 rush TD
  • 2014 vs Washington: 31-46, 475 yds, 7 TD passes

Washington head coach and former Boise State coach Chris Petersen said of Adams after the game: “He looked real good. You see that all the time. He’s a heck of a player and he could probably play for anybody in the country, without question.”

Words that may come back to haunt Petersen, as many of you that read the blog know that Oregon has offered Adams a scholarship, he begins his visit in Eugene this weekend. The Ducks are in the market for a quarterback after Marcus Mariota declared he’s leaving for the NFL Draft. Eastern Washington released a statement saying “they granted the student-athlete the ability to see what opportunities may exist.” For EWU their responsibility was to make sure Adams graduated, which he will in June. For his teammates, you have to wonder how they feel about this. Just last week, I listed EWU as one of my top six contenders to win the national title in 2015, based mainly on the fact that Adams would be back. Perhaps the juiciest part of this entire story is the fact that Eastern Washington opens 2015 at Oregon.

Is this the start of college football free agency? Will other FBS programs start picking the best out of the FCS to fill a one year vacancy? My biggest question is if I’m Oregon, how do you know have a quarterback in waiting? The backup to Mariota is Jeff Lockie, who’s only thrown 41 passes the last two seasons. My feeling is if Oregon has offered you a scholarship you have to take it with probably some assurances from Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich that he’s got the inside track to the starting job. For fans of FCS football, it means we lose out on seeing one of the best and may start an interesting process for future players that have eligibility remaining.