Foss: So, who will Sioux fans support?
In days long ago and a land far away, I'd sneak down to Fargo once or twice a year in the fall to watch the NDSU Bison play football. Those were the days of yesteryear when the Bison and the Sioux had this silly notion that having North Dakota's ...
In days long ago and a land far away, I'd sneak down to Fargo once or twice a year in the fall to watch the NDSU Bison play football.
Those were the days of yesteryear when the Bison and the Sioux had this silly notion that having North Dakota's two largest universities play each other in football was a great idea.
On my way down to the Bison locker room after those visits, I'd hear 100 voices of Bison players raised in song.
"Hail the bison, hail the bison, with its tail in the air, university, university you can (sorry, rest of song censored -- this is a family newspaper.")
Seven long years have gone by since the state's great rivalry played out on the gridiron. Despite talks of resuming the game, and promises from NDSU that it will, it's still empty talk.
Bison fans don't have to wait for a Christmas miracle. They got one on Monday when NDSU was one 20 teams selected for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Never mind that the Bison were coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to Missouri State in which the Bison ran up 120 yards of TOTAL offense and zero points against a team allowing 41 points a game over its last six games.
Scott Miller, the radio voice of the Bison, called the 31-3 Viking loss to Green Bay last Sunday "humiliating." He called NDSU getting shut out for the first time in five years by a team with a putrid defense "disappointing."
That's a sweet job of sugarcoating. Both results were embarrassing. One of those losses got a coach fired. NDSU's loss got it into the playoffs.
So for the first time in the history of the Fargodome, it will be the site of a Bison playoff game, ending that embarrassing and annoying streak.
Even though the Bison were one of six teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference to finish with a vanilla 4-4 league record, they got the nod mainly on the strength of 6-3 win over Kansas, the worst team in the Big 12.
It helped greatly that the FCS playoffs expanded from 16 to 20 teams this year. Without that, the Bison would be out.
But hail the Bison. They're in the playoffs, and have a playoff game at home, albeit against something called Robert Morris.
Who knows how far the Bison will go in the playoffs. They have serious injury problems at quarterback. The run could be short.
They'll beat Robert Morris today, Unless, of course, its coach calls for Phillip Morris (remember that commercial?) to reinforce a lineup that won a weak conference that rarely does anything noteworthy in the playoffs.
I have no sour grapes over the Bison making the playoffs. It's good for the school, good for the state. The Bison certainly have bragging rights over UND football these days, no question about that.
There will be interest in the Bison game in Grand Forks. If the Bison win, they'll go to Montana State a week later to face the Bobcats, champion of the Big Sky Conference. That's the league UND is joining, the league NDSU originally wanted to join.
So where does the loyalty of Sioux fans rest if NDSU and Montana State meet? With the Bison, representing the state, but a hated rival? Or with the Bobcats, a future Big Sky opponent of the Sioux?
Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at email@example.com or at (701) 772-9272.