Secretly We All Hate North Dakota State

Photo by Nick Krug A handful of North Dakota State fans celebrate against a backdrop of Kansas fans as time dwindles late in the fourth quarter, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at Kivisto Field. The Jayhawks dropped their home opener 6-3.
North Dakota State, it’s time we had a talk.

We get it. At the FCS level, you’ve been a terrific success story. You’ve won Missouri Valley football championships. You’ve upset a lot of FBS teams, the biggest one of all being a presesason contender for the Big 12, Kansas State, with an iconic game-winning drive where the Wildcat defense seemed utterly powerless to stop you.

You’ve been dominant in the FCS playoffs winning (how many is it again in a row? 5? 6? 20?) national championships in a row.

There are books being released detailing how great you are, which of course I will have to order and read.

But here’s just the thing: Secretly, or perhaps not-so-secretly, we all hate you. We want Charleston Southern to beat you this coming weekend. Bad.

We all hate your massive success, your mustard-and-relish-had-a-massive-fight uniforms, your… Fargodome, a hermetically-sealed-for-sound old-school concrete gym that acts as a tremendous home field advantage.


We hate it. Hate it. Hate. It.

We’re sick and tired.

We’ve had enough of stories saying that you’re number one – AGAIN. You’ve got people in contention for offensive and defensive player of the year awards – AGAIN.

We hate the fact that your success has infected the Missouri Valley football conference that the other members feel shafted when they are on the same side of the playoff bracket as you.

We’re sick and tired of the fact that the media makes the rest of the teams seem like they’re in such a bush league to the Bison that actually had a headline piece with the title: Who can dethrone North Dakota State? (Implied answer: Nobody, of course, you fool.)

We get it. You have a good team. You have talent. Lots of it. You do every year.

You had two quarterbacks last year that would be starters for 3/4 of the teams of the rest of the FCS. When you were in the FCS Championship game, you were realistically wondering whether to go with the guy that guided you to a one-loss conference record (QB Easton Stick) or the future No. 2 overall NFL draft pick (QB Carson Wentz.) We understand.

You must understand, too, that we, the rest of the FCS, want to see you lose this weekend to Charleston Southern. Preferably by six touchdowns, but we’d settle for two.

For we have grown tired of your fields of mustard and artificial turf green, your sotto voce plea to have the rest of FCS root for you to take down another FBS opponent. You have earned our disrespect. You have earned, through your sheer dominance, the right to have us hate you.

Montana's Joey Counts scores the game winning touchdown against North Dakota State PHOTO: KPUG/TWITTER: @UMGRIZZLIES_FB
The Nation Cheered, Really

Remember last season’s FCS kickoff weekend? The one where the Bison traveled to Montana and subsequently lost one of the most thrilling games of the season last year?

It was a great game. Montana scored the final 10 points and won the game late in the 4th quarter. Around the country, the haters cheered.

“Finally,” they said, “the Bison have come back down to earth with the rest of us. Take them away from the Fargodome, and they’re human. They put on their pants one leg at a time like the rest of us.”

Yet even then, North Dakota State, you took that potentially huge blow to the ego and managed to become better.

Yes, in your charmed, pixie dust existence of a of a school, you managed to recover from that loss and still cruise their way through the rest of the season and FCS playoffs.

Whether we liked it or not, “recovery” and “dynasty” narratives flowed North Dakota State’s direction.

Not content to leave Montana’s glorious win alone, the FCS playoff committee set up the Grizzlies’ playoff bracket to end up with a rematch in the Fargodome in the playoffs, allowing the Bison an excellent opportunity “overcome that adversity” and wallop Montana to avenge the loss.

Most college football teams have to wait at least a year or even more to avenge losses. Not you, North Dakota State. You got to experience the sweet taste of revenge during the exact same season – and at home, no less.

The rest of us have had enough.

I know you, North Dakota State fans, want to be thought us as the Alabama of the FCS. And quite frankly, you’ve been acting the part for some time now.

Like the Tide, only the biggest of TV opportunities will drag you out of your home stadium in out-of-conference play.

Like Alabama, you’ll be ranked Number One in the preseason, without actually having achieved anything during the regular season. Like Alabama, you’ll be the subject of national FCS media attention.

Sure, like Alabama, you’ll probably largely justify that media attention with another long run through the Missouri Valley, starting with the near-certain win vs. Charleston Southern, wins against a few other home cupcakes, and some fairly tough teams in the conference. Sure, maybe you’ll lose a road conference game to, say Missouri State, just to keep things interesting, but we have seen that movie before. It’s simply a ploy to keep us thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, you’re not invincible.

But like Alabama, that means you can’t play the “little school” card, ever. You’re never the underdogs – certainly not against Eastern Washington at home, or FBS Iowa on the road, which will, with no basis in reality, will probably be construed as an audition tape for the Bisons’ inclusion in the Big 12 expansion talks.

You see, your overcoming adversity act has worn thin with the rest of us FCS fans. We see you as Alabama and the ’27 Yankees incarnate. We see your arrogance, the expectation every season that you will win the Missouri Valley Conference and the FCS National Championship.

Don’t cry for us as we hope, probably desperately, that the Buccaneers can get something going with their timing-based offense against 110 decibels in your Fargodome.

CSU over the Citadel
A Lonely Nation Turns Its Eyes To You, CSU

You’ve made us into the biggest Charleston Southern fans imaginable. You’ve made us want to root for head coach Jamey Chatwell and quarterback Kyle Copeland to do the unthinkable and pound the Bison into so much meat.

“We still have the same players that weren’t good enough to play anywhere else, at least at any of the bigger schools,” Chadwell told The Charleston Post and Courier recently, and in so doing fanning the hungry flames of FCS nation in the process. “We are not going to be overly more talented than anyone we play this year. We have good players, for sure, but we still realize that for us to be successful, we have to play with that chip. The chip is our standard now. Having the right mindset in every game is very important for this program.”

As the Buccaneers have become what we all love, North Dakota State fans, you’ve become what we all hate, and for that you should be proud. But you should also stop and ask yourselves what it really means to be a national football school, and whether a loudness-inspired win over Charleston Southern at home will achieve that goal.

Or you could simply yell “Roll Bison” in the Fargodome this Saturday, and hope the sound is heard above the din.


  1. I’m a North Dakota State fan. We don’t want to be considered the Alabama of the FCS.

    We just want to be the NDSU Bison. Which, may someday *supplant* Alabama.

    (Yes, you can laugh I don’t care.)

    You can hate us too. We fans find the tears of other fans taste like fine wine.

    But we’ll probably still offer you a beer and maybe some food if you stop by our tailgates, because we’re just good people. And maybe when we’re done, instead of being haters, you’ll just be Bison fans too.

    Its ok. We understand.


    1. Ndsu has had to wait 6 years evange an over time lose in the quarter finals on the Red Carpet in Eastern Washing resulting in one of the biggest blown calls in play off history . Easton Stick was undefeated last season . NDSU has earned every win and every great moment . It’s a blessing to be a part of it all , the last minute come backs and titles . Rest easy Bison nation ! For every hater their are 10 fans that love this team !


    3. Articles like this are exactly the reason why NDSU will remain an FCS power. No other FCS team, or lower level FBS team for that matter, receives the publicity that NDSU does. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. PR is important. So every article, every game on ESPN, and every College Gameday in Fargo only strengthens the Bison program and makes it harder for other FCS teams to compete. Go Bison!

    4. I’m a Northern Iowa Fan… you won’t get me to be a Bison (bizon?) fan, but I appreciate the midwestern qualities and the great rivalry! Get ready! it’s going to be a fun year! Go Cats!

  2. It would be nice if some of the haters would realize the amount of work that those young men do every year to get where they are.
    They are also very involved in the communities of Fargo/Moorehead and the communities that they came from.
    I am a lifelong Bison fan and have seen years when the team was not so good and then I’ve seen these past 6 seasons, where the team has been amazing, and through it all, I believe you couldn’t ask for a more grounded bunch of young men to cheer for. They are all about the love of the game, the fans and the fun. If that is arrogance, I wish I had it. They work hard for what they want and want what they work hard for.
    Haters will be haters, they will never change, but when a team can do what NDSU has done, through so many changes, then they deserve the title of the Best Team in FCS.
    If any other team FCS or FBS can claim to be able to do that, then I’m sure you would be just as sick of them as well.
    I know I am going to be watching the game on Saturday, on ESPN mind you, and cheering on my home state team as I am sure you will be cheering on Charleston Southern, Mr. Burton, but I want you to remember, if it wasn’t for the Bison’s accomplishments, you would have to be listening to the game on the radio, or not at all, instead of watching it live and in color on the national stage.

    GO BISON!!!!!

    1. Agreed–When Valley City was flooding a few years back, a busload of NDSU football players helped move all the books from the basement of the VCSU library so they wouldn’t get ruined. For that and many other kind things the players have done, I’m a Bison fan.

  3. Please forgive the previous replies, as I do not believe they got the gist of the message and dryness of the article.

    Well done, well written and pretty funny.

  4. Love this article. The author really admires them but knows he WANTS to hate them, he NEEDS to hate them. But unlike Alabama, the Bison are essentially unhatable. You can’t hate them when you meet them. I am not a Bison fan–my wife is. Bison fans love winning, but they’re still lovable. That’s not typical–and it isn’t like the hatable fans of most other winning teams. The author of this article didn’t mention that Bison FANS are phenomenal–they are both humble and great fans. They are crazy, weirdly Viking in their ability to be super quiet (on offense) and super loud (on defense). (See the Icelandic soccer chant and you’ll know what I mean by Viking.) Bison fans are happy to party with other fans but burn for their Bison to win. They are the greatest fans I’ve ever seen–in any sport. The Bison deserve those fans, and those fans deserve the Bison. It’s all about the herd, man. The herd. And beer…

    1. I couldn’t agree more. When in Frisco, I met a young man named Terrance West (maybe you’ve heard of him – he plays for the Baltimore Ravens). He was very courteous and had cautious optimism that his team would prevail. (His friend with him was the FCS version of Don King – only shorter hair and wasn’t as diplomatic. “T-West. This is my man T-West. Ain’t nobody can stop my boy! Etc. etc.). He was impressed with the number of fans the Bison brought and thanked me for stopping to talk. I told him that I hoped for a good game and that everyone came out healthy. (If you recall the field was a mess and had it not been for the poor footing, we may have really seen a great performance by T-West).

      The next year we tailgates by Illinois State fans. Same story, different year. They were amazed by how many people drove that far when they were far closer. After the game we all spoke of the great game by both teams and we were both sure both teams would return. The NCAA made sure that didn’t happen by placing all 5 MVFC teams in the same side of the bracket, “accidentally”. ISU was upset by Richmond whereby affording NDSU a home semi-final game and moved on to the Title game.
      I’ve met more fans who were in awe and admired what the team and fan base have built.

      We have had families of players from the opposition come visit us multiple times once they met us in our tailgating spot. We welcome them with a hand shake, offer a beverage, some food, a pudding shot and then after some friendly banter, part ways with a hug (and a 12th Man mug).

      Come meet us and leave as an honorary member of the Herd.

    2. Well some bison fans are real pieces of cocky douche baggery as well. Every fan base has them and for some reason they are the most vocal ones. Online poster Bisonalumn2011 is a prime example. Not saying anything about the players as people but i still root for the underdog in any match NDSU plays in which admittedly is any team playing NDSU. So I get the dry humor of this article. I respect what the Bison have done. Knew they were going to be a threat at the FCS before they moved up to FCS, consistent program, string of championships and knocked off a top rated MT team at home right toward the end of thier time in DII. I am still sick of seeing them treated as unbeatable demigods and everyone else as not fit to lick thier boots by the media. So I was rooting for CSU. They gave you one hell of a run for your money. One missed field goal away form beating you. You barely survived that game.

  5. Do most people even know who plays in FCS?? I mean, unless you’re from an FCS school, I don’t think the average fan really cares.

    1. Why do even care what the FCS people are talking about. Just remember every team in the FCS is eligible to win a NC and does not have to worry about the bias vote. Go back to your SEC tv and keep you comments to your self about the irrelevant FCS.

  6. Just read the amazing article yesterday about Scotty Miller, who died this last year after calling the FCS championship. When he needed rides to dr visits BC his wife was out of leave time, it was NDSU coaches who picked him up or arranged rides. Easton and Carson mowed his lawn. Not only do they play great football, they are decent human beings. If you still need to hate them, ok… But we love them.

    1. We love and respect the players of NDSU.

      The fans are the problem. Start acting like you have been there before! Win with Class! Like the team and players do!

  7. I’m a HUGE NDSU Bison fan & alumnus.

    YES we ALL know that the rest of FCS hates us & our success. That’s what comes from being a successful team. But before you go fitting us for hangmans noose, just remember our success wasn’t handed to us. We earned it. We had head coaches who were driven to make this program a success. Oh and we’ve has our fair share of 3-9 seasons too. 2 years before our first national championship to be exact. But we got better assistant coaches, recruited better players, had a winning attitude, put together winning strategies, worked our tail sections off, overcome adversities & EARNED our success!!! And success breeds success!! That’s why alot of the best players now want to come to North Dakota State. We also have a never say quit, never say die attitude on our team too!! Hate us if you must, but like the previous replyer posted, we’ll still give a good of food & a nice cold beverage if you stop by any if our tailgating lots. We extend our hands with a warm welcome & embrace you, not as an enemy, but more as buddy whom we now have to battle on the gridiron with. We’re down-to-earth, good, kind hearted people who will host an opposing team very well.

    YES I know we’ve shattered some records, had alot of success. But just remember, EVERYTHING in life is cyclical. There’ll come a time when we’ll go 4-8 or 2-10 again. It’s inevitable!!! So Others will have their opportunities. Even the almighty Alabama Crimson Tide had a number of down years about 2 decades ago!!! But whether we win or lose, most of us will still be supporting our Bison come game day!!

    1. Quit bringing up Alabama!! You are not even in the same league! Your not even on the same playing level. Not even close!

      Alabama could beat NDSU blind folded

  8. Love this article. Will done sir. For you NDSU fans that take offense to this, STOP. Take a breath and reread this article.
    You will then realize and see this is not an attack on you, the fan, not to the guys on the team. Chill out and know it’s not all about you.

  9. Character, values, and work ethic support success but don’t guarentee it. Team and coaching commentment to the “we” vs. the “me” is unmeauralbe but relative. Believing as a team that “it ain’t over til it’s over” is an essential attitude of success for both the ten and the fan base. But at the end of it all after 47 years as a Bison fan through successes and the “not so much”; only the desperately misguided sports fans can “hate” character, fan cordiality, the ability to get beyond disappointment and unabashed commitment to be as good as you can be as a reason to hate a football program and its coaches and players – I forgive you and hope we can share a brat and beer sometime! GO BISON!

  10. Good article. As a Bison fan I enjoyed it. I understand why others would like us to lose but just like many teams we have been blessed w not only great players but great human beings. Like one commentator mentioned a few of our players mowed lawn of the voice of the bison Scottie Miller while he was battling cancer. Plus the numerous other things they do for the community without seeking accolades. Good program good people. Hail the Bison!!

  11. What a fun article! Have to admit that a couple of mediocre years might make season tickets available again in Fargo, but no…. I hope they continue on.

  12. Please know that real NDSU fans are not dumb enough to be offended by this story. Based upon the comprehension skills of these rubes I am guessing they are UND alumni.

    Well done Mr. Burton. The Bison love being hated!

    1. Yeah yeah, good one Byznfan, now get back to work on your farm and make sure you get my payment to me on time because as you know, you go to NDSU to work on a farm and you go to UND to OWN it!

    2. I think they all know this is a parody by the writer, but also know that it is based on reality. There are a lot of haters and jealousy, as evidenced by commenters here.

  13. NDSU plays as a team. Pure and simple. They take good players and build a unit. No superstars. No quitters over playing time. Easton Stick was an unknown quantity who went 8-0 after Carson broke his wrist. The NFL is finally catching on. But these guys drill, and drill, and drill. They are great because they have an ethic and because they’ve earned it. There are probably twenty FCS teams with more talent. Not the discipline. The jump to FBS might not be possible due to costs. Also, NDSU would love to play any SEC, ACC, or any other FBS team. They can’t get scheduled. The Big 10 has practically outlawed any team scheduling FCS schools. Here’s the bottom line. They work, they win. They don’t strut until the game is over. Oh, one last thing. You’re a jerk.

  14. What about the NDSU kicker that got busted for stealing out of cars? What about the players that got busted for petition fraud? What about the player that got busted for exposing himself at West acres? I like the players the fans of NDSU suck!

    1. David,
      Those players were disciplined and actions were taken by the coaching staff and team leadership to ensure the players adhere to a higher standard of ethics than the average student.
      These players forego holiday breaks to see family, summer breaks to relax at home and more to practice and train TOGETHER. They live, breath and eat as a team. When one fails, they hold that one accountable and bring him back in line. That’s what makes the NDSU Football team great. Great coaches respected by great players and being an example of how to put team before self.

  15. As a life-long NDSU Bison and 1997 alum, I wanted to say, “Thank you!”

    I loved every single word of your piece.

    And if you come to the game Saturday, look me up for a beer or two.

    Go Bison!!!!

  16. The New York Yankees… you love them or hate them. Psychologists call it the Yankees Syndrome( I just made that up, but it could be true). The same thing is true with NDSU Bison Football. But underneath it all, we know that there isn’t a team in the country who wouldn’t trade situations and records with The Herd.

  17. Great article. As with most all SDSU Jackrabbit fan, I respect the heck out of the Bison. I appreciate the way they play with their old school style of football. The “evil empire” they have built does elevate the rest of the pack. They are good for FCS and mid major sports. That being said, I could not agree more with the article. The more they win, the more I hate the Bison.

  18. Great article with great wit. Tells the end story of success but not the true exceptional dedication of the coaches players and yes the fans. Made my first trip to the “5” national championship game and the NDSU fan support was simply overwhelming.

  19. Yikes, looks like someone woke up with a hangover from last year. As long as I can remember, and depending on our coach, our Bison never expect a season to be easy. That’s why they are in the gym, practicing on the field, pushing themselves to improve both individually and as a team.

    The bison are not a team of one or two stars but a true team, eleven men on one side or the other. The Bison win because all eleven are working to be the best they can be for the betterment of their team.

    As individuals they would crumble; as a team they come together. How many seasons and games has a new name been called out for making a game changing play? The bison are the true embodiment of the word “Team”.

  20. I’ve lived my entire life in the middle of MN and been a lifelong Gopher/Viking fan. The Bison nation reminds me a lot of Packer nation. Take a drive through Fargo or Green Bay, even in the offseason, and you will get a very similar vibe. Flags, signs, a school bus turned fan bus, it’s everywhere. While I completely respect the legacy of both GB and NDSU, I find the hype a bit obnoxious. People that I’ve known most of my life now act as though they have a kid on the team whereas 10 years ago they wouldn’t have said a word about the Bison. Maybe I’m just a hardened MN sports fan. For now, I will wait and hope that MN football can figure things out. Until then…or until I have a kids that goes to NDSU.

  21. NDSU Fan here, seriously great article. To all my fellow Bison fans commenting on this article…
    You are all perpetuating the belief (reality) to everyone else in the FCS that we can’t take a joke and that we still think we are the underdog and need to protect the Bison name.
    If you want to get off of this cycle I will start a support group, here is our creed:
    Bob Babich is no longer the coach and has been gone for 14 years, he can’t hurt us anymore.
    The NDSU football players are every good and they can win games with or without us & we the fans can find other excuses to drink regardless of if they win.
    If the players moms are not offended by something then we don’t have to be either.
    Go Bison!

  22. I think Bison fans have every right to be proud of their team. But we shouldn’t be proud at the expense of others. Teams the don’t win all their games or even any of their games have hard working, caring and descent student athletes on their teams. It’s not always about winning or at least it shouldn’t be. Go Bison!

  23. Plain and simple Bison fans are what we are because of our team hate us or love us our record speaks for it self and our passion is rooted on the hard work and determination of the players past and present

  24. I am a Montana fan. I did not expect to beat them last year but we did, fair and square. It was an outstanding game that many people in America watched because it was on ESPN. Why? Because it was the Bison, and Montana has one of the top venues in the country, and it was the first college game of the season. It was also the first game of our brand new coach, with a fast pace offensive scheme. It was amazing.

    Then the Bison destroyed us, at the Fargodome in the second game of the FCS playoffs. Do I hate them? No, I respect them. They are the living example of what every other team strives for. (Their fans can get a bit annoying, but so were the Montana fans back when we were making our runs to the NC.)

    I think we have another chance to make the playoffs this year. That new coach I mentioned has brought it 40 new players. Why?
    Because he saw what it will take to beat the Bison.

    1. I like your attitude and your comments. When other teams come here to play the Bison, particularly in the play-offs, they are amazed that the Bison fans welcome them, talk to them, and invite them to join in the tailgating. When I have visited with some of them, they tell us they are surprised by how nice we are, compared to the other teams they have played in the play-offs. I think we understand that football is still a game, someone has to win and someone has to lose, and everyone wants to have fun playing or watching the game. We don’t hate our opponents, but we certainly love our team!

    2. The reason both of those games happened the way they did, turned on circumstance. In the first game, the Bison had several new faces on Defense, and one very important veteran, CJ Smith, was unable to play due to injury. CJ’s replacement was horrible and had 3 pass interference penalties, the last one on the winning MT drive in the 4th Qtr was on a 3rd and 15. The new MT coach with a new Offense and no film to watch on it didn’t help.

      By the time of the second game, those new faces were schooled up and CJ Smith was back on the field. If any one of those elements didn’t occur in the first game, MT looses the game.

  25. As an NDSU fan, I love this article. Not because I live being hated, or love to see other teams lose, but because it’s so tasteful. We understand the feelings other teams and fans have towards us, and don’t deny that we would feel the same way if we were in their shoes. This article, given its contents, is very respectful and we appreciate that. If ever you all get the opportunity to travel to Fargo, leave a day or two on either side of game day to experience the city. Visit a coffee shop, or check out a museum. Interact with the people there and, even with an opposing jersey on, you will experience a welcoming, humble culture that is impossible to hate. We don’t mind if you continue to hate our success, but don’t forget that someday you may be at the top as well, and we might just be where you are now. For now, though, we welcome great competition because while blowouts are reassuring, they get pretty boring. When your team gets the chance to play us, if they give their best effort, no matter the results, you will have earned or respect.

  26. All these words about a renamed D II game. I mean name one team at this level that ever were D I.
    Now Univ of North Dakota D I hockey played in building costing over $100 million and all donated by one alum. What has it been? Eight national D I championships. Only one major American university has won more. Go UND.

  27. Ralph Kingsbury…….. UND produces some of the best in the world in the sport of hockey. But enjoy the attention the Bison success has brought to the narrow minded football fans of America…..

  28. Interesting perspectives, and I agree that a lot of the loudmouth braggart fans could tone it down a notch and show some humility. Most are genuine, friendly, complimentary of other teams, but there are some that are a little too full of themselves. I’m a NDSU Bison Alum from the 80’s during their successful DII days when we played outside. Like all teams, we wandered through a long stretch of mediocrity, and I have no doubt someday mediocrity will strike again; it always does. However, I enjoy watching a good game between NDSU and South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, University of South Dakota, and yes Montana. That Montana game was fantastic and the Griz deserved that win, no doubt about it. There was something surreal about that game with the full raucous stadium, the smoky atmosphere from the forest fires, and two good teams shooting it out.

    Truth be told, years ago I wanted the Bison to go to the Big Sky; we have way more in common with the old Big Sky schools than the Illinois directional schools, so it was a little hurtful getting the stiff arm from the Big Sky, only to see UND and UNC get accepted, and USD getting an invite although they didn’t ultimately take it.

  29. i used to admire the NDSU program – but since the #2 pick in the NFL draft came from NDSU, and the program is recently 5-0 against FBS schools – I believe that it’s time to play up to your talent level. No one wants to see Goliath slaughter David. GA Southern, App State, Coastal, and other FCS programs have moved up to a more appropriate challenge, and I would encourage NDSU to do the same. Beating up on lesser talent is tiresome, predictable, and unsporting.

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