North Dakota State Vs. North Dakota: NOT!

There has been talk this week in Grand Forks regarding the reasons North Dakota and North Dakota State have not scheduled a football game in recent years. This same discussion pops up every fall in Grand Forks and as usual, it ended the same way: We point our collective fingers south screaming “It’s their fault,” and attempt to shame North Dakota State by boasting that we still possess the Nickel Trophy as well as a dominating 62-45-3 advantage in games played. Fargo once again failed to respond, indicating that they either didn’t hear the challenge, or that they don’t care. I believe it’s the latter reason.

People I talk to all tell me: “It’s North Dakota State’s fault that the two schools aren’t competing in football.” I happen to believe it’s a little more complicated than that! It was a messy break up in 2003. When North Dakota State wanted to take the relationship to the next level, (meaning Division I) they wanted North Dakota to join them: The two would have been a great addition to any conference they wanted to be in. North Dakota got scared and instead of moving up, decided to break up instead. As anyone who has ever been dumped in a relationship knows full well, it hurts, but you are forced to move on, so you do. North Dakota State has moved on.

Is North Dakota State’s life better since the break up? They had a few difficult years at first; really missing their old steady reliable partner North Dakota. Their new chief football rival became South Dakota State, and while this relationship isn’t as impassioned as the one they once shared with North Dakota, it has served them well enough. North Dakota State has matured since the breakup and has now returned to its familiar role as a national power, only this time on a much larger stage. Like any great team, their level of play has elevated those around them, and now South Dakota State, along with the rest of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, is benefiting from their association with two time national champion North Dakota State.

What about North Dakota? They remained in the North Central Conference for a few years, saying they would rather remain a dominant force in Division II than be a lower tier Division I team. True to their prediction, they did remain a dominant Division II team, but soon discovered the thrill was gone. Like North Dakota State, they failed to establish a new rivalry with the intensity they had once shared with their neighbors to the south, and eventually followed North Dakota State up to Division I. Instead of joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference however, where annual games with North Dakota State would be guaranteed, they opted to become a part of the Big Sky Conference instead. The Big Sky is a fine conference, with powerful football programs at schools such as Montana, Montana State, and Eastern Washington.

Has North Dakota State really moved on? I believe they have. North Dakota State has become arguably the most respected football program in all of Division I FCS. North Dakota State hosted nationally televised “ESPN Game Day” this morning, the first time an FCS School has had the honor. They have won two consecutive Missouri Valley football titles and two consecutive National Championships. It is indeed great to be a Bison fan these days!

Has North Dakota moved on? I don’t think so. They are stuck in a stage of transition; desperately seeking something great to build upon. They need to move on, but seem unable to decide what even to be called. They need to establish some sort of identity, but with ever changing school colors and no nickname, they have a long way to go. Maybe that’s the reason North Dakota is clamoring for a renewal of the annual football game; it would be the return of something familiar. Don’t expect it to happen anytime soon: North Dakota State has moved on!

6 Responses

  1. Brad Campbell

    UND should have done a better PR job of trying to get into the MVFC and Summit.

    The game will probably be playing again but this Bison fan could care less if it does.

    1. Check the records

      UND did everything it could to get into the MVFC and Summit. There was no committment from MVFC and no interest or guarantee that Summit would folow, There was an offer on the table from one of the top conferences in the country. It was only after UND got the Big Sky offer that the MVFC took interest. Plus there were rumors that there were current members of the MVFC that were lobbying to keep UND out.

  2. Gene DuBois

    Football at UND has never had the cachet it enjoys at NDSU; hockey is the priority. This is reflected in the fact Dave Hakstol is the second-highest paid public employee in the state. Further, a rivalry exists only when two teams regularly play each other. Perhaps in the memory of the greybeards there still is one, but after 10 years, students don’t remember it. The two school have mapped separate roads: NDSU puts all its eggs in the football basket, UND does not. Which means that any game would have the same result as NDSU’s thrashing of Delaware State.

  3. Reality Check

    Who’s moved on – check the number of topic started on bisonville related to UND, how about su fans leading Sioux Suck cheers at their national championship rally, there were even Sioux Suck cheers last weekend at college game day. Check who can’t fill a football schedule without dipping down into DII o rscheduling also rans vs. who has what many experts considered the best schedule in FCS. Yes su has the best FCS teams in the county and one of the best program so why do their fans continue to show their little brother inferiority by demonstrating their need to compare themselves to UND and consistently bring up UND on their fan board? By the way just like at su it is a small contingency of UND fans that clamer for the football game to return, a majority have moved on with a full Big Sky Conference schedule. Others just want it for the interest it will generate in the state so you can stop with the falicy that UND is pinning away in Grand Forks because there is no interstate football game they have four top 20 teams coming to town this year and probably at least 2-3 coming every year. And to cheap shots about the teams quality right now I would just say check the record between UND and su in the last 10 years they played (when both schools had the same # of scholarships) – su’s biggest fear is that UND will catch up to them and they will lose the only sport they have that is dominant over UND on a regular basis – oh and that will happen.

  4. DaftBison

    Hey UND fan, make the playoffs and come play us. Your football will never be as good as NDSU. He explained it well above, you put most your money into hockey, not football. NDSU, on the other hand, puts all our money into football. As far as the record between NDSU and UND. Congratulations, you have more wins than us when we did actually play. But how many championships does your football team have? This is the whole point of the rivalry. On any given Saturday, any team could win in a rivalry game. But if we had played each other in the past 10 years, I guarantee you we would have at least 8 wins, but probably all 10. Taken that into consideration, we would have more wins than you and we would have the Nickel right now so I wouldn’t be comparing our football teams right now. But good luck in hockey……

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