Well first off, a little background on James Madison from the history nerd in me: he was the 4th President, responsible for writing the Constitution and leading the U.S. into the War of 1812 (I minored in history in college) Alright on to the football stuff:
JMU likes to run. A lot. The Dukes ran it 68 times against Eastern Kentucky Saturday, racking up 244 yards, quarterback Justin Thorpe running the option pretty well and as Jeff has stressed all season, if you want to beat NDSU you need to run the ball well. Look at the Youngstown State game for any proof of that and that has to be concern 1A for the Bison this Saturday. The JMU defense is nothing to sneeze at either, allowing just 213 yards to EKU on the road. Now granted it was a tough wind but this team has athletes and perhaps most dangerous of all; confidence. James Madison has now won 3 in a row, all must-win, including two on the road. Look no further than the 2010 Bison, granted they lost their season finale, but got some confidence in that 1st round win over Robert Morris and ballooned to a near win over the national champions. A further examination of this team and it’s four losses says one other thing: They’re pretty good. James Madison lost to FBS North Carolina and it’s three other losses? All to FCS playoff teams AND conference rivals; New Hampshire, Old Dominion and Maine. As much as the Fargodome will be rocking on Saturday and I believe it will be, this team won’t be intimated going in there.
On the Bison front, the Zach Vraa news is tough, we’ve been told Craig Bohl will NOT be holding his usual press conference Monday, but rather Tuesday, so all updates on injuries and players will have to wait till then, but Jeff and I will be taping a new Video Blog tomorrow, so look for that.
On the TV front, which is going to be a huge story as the week unfolds, J.D. Hamilton from the NCAA got back to me tonight saying, “As of right now all the 2nd round games are airing on ESPN3.com”. As some of you may now, the two senators from Montana have become involved in this, emailing and writing ESPN to re-consider and put the games on TV. Montana and North Dakota are in a similar boat where mass amounts of people don’t have access to ESPN3 and therefore cannot watch it. I did some research on ESPN3 this weekend, trying to watch the other 1st round games and found this out: Unless you’re in area that gets ESPN3(West Fargo, Moorhead, some areas of South Fargo) or know some short-cut or workaround, you’re out of luck. Now Mid-Continent Cable carries ESPN3 locally, but as most of you know that’s not available to most of the citizens of Fargo and CableOne, Fargo’s primary cableholder does not. I have a call in to CableOne on a response, if any, but if it’s anything like the story I did with them and Fox Sports North and the Twins, I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a positive result. And for those asking about last year and the Montana State and Eastern Washington games being on ESPN3 and the 1st round game being televised, one distinct thing is different this year; ESPN has exclusive rights to all 19 games. They can decide where and which platform to put the games on, and unfortunately to fans in two states, it looks like a lot of people are going to be shut out on Saturday. I hope I’m wrong, look for a story on this tomorrow night on WDAY 6 Sports.
Finally be naive not to write something here, but there was plenty of movement in the college head coaching world Sunday. Turner Gill, who’s career at Kansas started with a loss to NDSU was fired, Ron Zook at Illinois and jobs at Akron, Memphis and Alabama-Birmingham have opened. Rumors are circulating that Steve Fairchild at Colorado State could be next (who incidentally NDSU play next September 8th). These teams won’t wait around until the end of the FCS playoffs and some have to know the job that Craig Bohl has done here. I know fans will say that he just signed a long-term extension, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 2 years covering college football; expect the unexpected.
Two last things; really impressive win by the Bison Men’s Basketball team last night over Fresno State, they took control of that game early and never let up. Interested to see how this week goes, heading to Western Illinois, a team that nearly beat Michigan but did beat UND in Grand Forks, then to IUPUI, where NDSU has only won once in four trips. Second, the Bison volleyball team drew Minnesota (AGAIN) for the NCAA Tournament, this Gopher team by all accounts isn’t the world beater that NDSU has faced the last two times, but it’s still Minnesota, playing at home. The Bison played well against the top teams this season, going five sets with Iowa State and Northern Iowa, but didn’t win either. We’ll see if that experience helps heading into this weekend.
So there it is folks, lot of stuff to digest. Buckle up, going to be a fun week, make sure you bookmark the blog, we’ll be busy!