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 NCAA.com 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.
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.
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.
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
Reach him at: this email or click below: