Defending champion Bison get back to workFARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State senior center Joe Lund has opened plenty of holes in his career with the Bison. One of his toughest tasks this season might be getting his family inside the Fargodome.
By: DAVE KOLPACK,Associated Press, Associated Press
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State senior center Joe Lund has opened plenty of holes in his career with the Bison. One of his toughest tasks this season might be getting his family inside the Fargodome.
"A lot of them can't get tickets," Lund said, laughing but not joking.
Such is life for the defending Football Championship Subdivision champions, who held their annual media day Friday. All six home games in the 19,000-seat indoor stadium are sold out and scalpers have already turned to ticket broker websites.
Two sideline tickets for the Sept. 1 home opener against Robert Morris, regularly priced at $30, were posted on Stubhub this week for $75 each — four rows from the top, Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik said.
"There's not a bad seat in the house," Sobolik said, "but you're a ways away with those seats."
Linebacker and hometown product Brandon Jemison grew up watching the Bison, which gave him an idea about high expectations long before last year's win over Sam Houston State for the school's first Division I title. But the team has never sold out the season before the season.
"There's a lot of interest from the fans. They do hold us to a high standard," Jemison said. "But even our fans know that winning a national championship is a hard thing to do. It's not a given that any team is going to win it any year, let alone back-to-back."
Even so, Lund and Jemison said, anything less than a return trip to Frisco, Texas, would be a disappointment.
"Repeating would really be the only way to top that feeling," Jemison said.
The 2012 edition of the Bison looks a lot like last year's club. They have 13 players on defense with starting experience and eight starters on offense who have started at least one game. They have an experienced quarterback in Brock Jensen, a game-breaking return specialist in Ryan Smith and two defensive backs, Colten Heagle and Marcus Williams, who are getting national recognition on preseason honor teams.
NDSU was picked to finish first in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in a poll of league coaches, media and sports information directors.
"We know the media hype. Everyone wants to label us," Jemison said. "Either way, you are going to have to come out, week in and week out, and win games."
Missouri Valley coaches say NDSU's championship has helped improved credibility of the league that last won the national title with Youngstown State's victory in 1997.
"I know a lot us took a lot of pride in that," Illinois State coach Brock Spack said of the Bison title run. "And the way they did it. They kind of had their way with people all the way through the tournament. Very impressive."
League Commissioner Patty Viverito said she might be the happiest commissioner in the country, not only because her league has the defending champion.
"Given all the tragedies, penalties, firings, realignments and general hypocrisies that have dominated college football news over the past year, I feel very blessed to lead a conference that's playing for championships rather than bowling for dollars," she said.