Talking Bison, Twins on Sports Talk radio today

“Sports Talk” returns for the first time since Saturday’s big victory for the North Dakota State football team. I’m hosting the show, and I’ll be joined by Forum staffer Dan Haglund. Show techinically starts at 1 p.m., but it doesn’t usually get under way until 1:10 p.m. That’s on 970-AM WDAY.

We’ll talk about the Bison football victory against Kansas. How has it changed your view of the team’s potential this year? Did the defenses dominate the offenses, or was it simply a case of two inexperienced offenses not finding their footing? Where does this win rank among Craig Bohl’s upsets? And how does NDSU keep beating these FBS schools (isn’t that four FBS wins in the last five years)?

We’ll be joined from the get-go by WDAY-TV’s Dom Izzo, who was in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday to cover the game. Then, we’ll talk to NDSU AD of marketing Troy Goergen to discuss the victory and what wins like this do for the school in terms of attendance and enthusiasm surrounding the program.

Dan and I will also talk some Twins baseball and Boise State football if time allows. I was at Sunday’s victory and watched the Legends Game. I have a few thoughts on that. And what a win for those Broncos, out to bust open the BCS.

We’ll take your calls at 293-9000 or (800) 279-9329 or send us an e-mail at talk@wday.com

On the radio today

I make the first of two appearances this week on “Sports Talk” from 1-2 p.m. on 970-AM WDAY.

Joining me in studio is The Forum’s sports editor, Kevin Schnepf.

Today, we’ll be talking to AP sports writer Jon Krawczynski. We’ll discuss the latest news on Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and what to expect from the Vikings’ final preseason game tomorrow.

We’ll also talk to Kansas football beat writer Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal World. NDSU faces the Jayhawks in the season opener on Saturday.

And, as always, we’re taking your calls at 293-9000 or (800) 279-9329 or e-mail talk@wday.com

Weeding through Signing Day bytes

National Signing Day can be a headline writer’s worst nightmare. It’s the same story every year. Or is it?

Of course, every year a head football coach applauds his class. But can anything be taken from that level of applause. Does "the best class ever" mean it is, and simply an "excellent" class is actually a bad one? Can every year really be the best class the coach has ever had?

I’m guessing a coach’s quotes on Signing Day are about as predictable as a Republican’s view on any health care proposal from across the aisle. Or a Democrat’s view of a Republican’s health care proposal. It works both ways, of course, to make sure nothing ever gets accomplished.

I’m going to use a couple of local examples.

First, North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl:

2007 – "It’s difficult to rank classes but in my mind, this is the best class hands down."

2008 – "Since I’ve been the head coach, my personal assessment is it’s the most talented class that we’ve signed."

2009 – Labeled class as "good to excellent."

2010 – "I think it’s always dangerous as a coach to start pounding your chest saying what a great class this is. By gosh, I’m looking you guys straight in the eye, this is a heck of a class."

It’s impossible to refute such claims. Those classes could have been the best, whether or not they eventually did or didn’t develop. I have to admit that Bohl’s quotes aren’t quite as entertaining as my next example.

No surprise, there are some real gems from Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster:

2008 – "I just can’t say enough about the job the staff did. I think they proved they are the best recruiting staff in America."

2009 – "I think it’s an outstanding group of players who are going to help us as we move forward in our quest to win a championship here at Minnesota." Regarding his efforts to land a number of in-state kids that year, Brewster added, "I truly believe – and I stated this from Day 1 – the core and the fiber of our football team must be representative of the state of Minnesota."

2010 – "This is a very solid class from top to bottom."

I’m not picking on these coaches. You’ll find these types of quotes from every major coach in America.

Brewster’s quotes are hilarious, especially the one from 2008. Best recruiting staff in America? Really?

And in 2009, the Minnesota quote was in response to his staff landing 5 of the top 10 rated kids in the state. Apparently, that wasn’t an emphasis this year, as he landed three Minnesota kids. Or the job just didn’t get done, which led to him merely referring to it as a "solid class."

Plus, it’s always fun to hear Brewster speak of championships. Not sure if he meant Big Ten or BCS in that quote, but even a conference title is so far from my mind when I watch that team squeak past South Dakota State.

SI.com looks back at last decade

Sports Illustrated’s Web site put together some pretty extensive pieces on the best and worst of the past decade. Here’s a link to the college basketball page. You’ll find a scroll bar below the "Galleries" link that allows you to look at other sports.

Both the Minnesota Twins and North Dakota State’s men’s basketball team appear on the lists. NDSU’s upset of Wisconsin in 2006 was named the fourth-biggest upset of the decade.

The Twins’ one-game playoff victory against the Detroit Tigers back in October was named the seventh-best MLB game of the decade and the No. 1 regular-season game of the decade.

I can speak from first-hand experience that the one-game playoff was incredible. I’ll never forget the mad dash I made for the doors and to the ticket booths immediately after the mad dash Carlos Gomez made for the plate to score the winning run in the 12th inning. Wow, that was amazing!

Reading over the college basketball top 10 upsets got me revved up for March Madness, which unfortunately is still three months away.

I did the best I could to find YouTube videos of as many of the upsets as I could. Here they are:

10. Davidson defeats Georgetown in 2008 NCAA tournament

 

9. Indiana stuns Duke in 2002 NCAA tournament.

Got nothing.

8. Oral Roberts 78, Kansas 71 – Nov. 15, 2006

 

7. Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68 – Nov. 7, 2007

 

6. Vermont 60, Syracuse 57 (OT) – 2005 NCAA tournament

 

5. Northwestern State 64, Iowa 63 – 2006 NCAA tournament

4. North Dakota State 62, Wisconsin 55 – Jan. 21, 2006

Not sure if this was even televised.

3. Bucknell 64, Kansas 63 – 2005 NCAA tournament

 

2. Hampton 58, Iowa State 57 – 2001 NCAA tournament

Definitely was televised, because I’ll never forget watching this game. Hampton was the 15 seed. Nothing on YouTube.

1. George Mason 86, UConn 84 (OT) – 2006 NCAA tournament

Worst college football weekend in area’s history?

Tough weekend if you’re a college football fan here in the Red River Valley. I posed the question tonight to my colleagues if this was the worst weekend of college football in this area’s history.

Let’s look at the carnage:

  • North Dakota State loses to South Dakota State for the third consecutive season. That hasn’t happened in over 45 years. And with the loss, the Jackrabbits retain the rivalry’s trophy, the Dakota Marker.
  • Minnesota State Moorhead was handed a 45-point loss by No. 7-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato, which pushed its record to 8-0 this season. The Dragons had just 98 total yards in the road loss.
  • Concordia dropped its Homecoming game, losing to Augsburg 27-20 in overtime. The Cobbers were down 20-3 at one point before rattling off 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
  • And finally, the University of North Dakota lost to Sioux Falls 28-13. Sioux Falls – an NAIA school – had not only never played a Division I school. The Cougars have never even played a Division II school before. Yes, I know, Sioux Falls is the defending national NAIA champs, and yes, I’m aware that the Sioux are transitioning from Division II. But the fact of the matter is, a Division I school lost to an NAIA school.

Can anybody remember a worse weekend of college football in this area? I’d love to hear any memories in the comments if anyone can. Toss in the fact that the Gophers got shut out by Penn State, and it was pretty much all gloom and doom today.

And what do people think of their teams? The Dragons remain the only one of the three Fargo-Moorhead schools to win a conference game, having beaten Minnesota-Crookston in Northern Sun action earlier this season.

At least fans around here have the Minnesota Vikings to look forward to.

Opening against Iowa State not quite the same

North Dakota State’s football team showed some flashes of brilliance – Pat Paschall‘s 146 yards a prime example – along with occasional mistakes.

That’s how college football openers can go. And when you’re a Football Championship Subdivision team opening against a Big 12 squad, that’s a tough matchup to try and work out the kinks.

The Bison faced that dilemma Thursday, dropping a 34-17 decision to Iowa State. As should be expected, there were plenty of things for the coaching staff to be happy with and plenty of things that need to be worked out.

The Bison have had a number of big wins since going Division I. The victories against Ball State, Central Michigan and Minnesota come to mind. Even their ability to hang with Wyoming last season despite only going 6-5 was, despite the mistakes, still just a three-point loss to a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

What separates Thursday’s game and those previous matchups against FBS teams – besides the personnel – is the timing. None of those games mentioned above came earlier than the third game of the season. The victory over the Gophers came in NDSU’s seventh game of the season. By that point, the Bison had built momentum toward a 10-1 season, and the Gophers were in a tailspin, having the worst season they’ve had in my lifetime for sure.

A couple weeks into an 11-game season, a college football team probably has a pretty good idea of where it stands. The Bison, with a number of inexperienced players in big roles, likely learned a lot about themselves Thursday. And now that they’re playing for something that wasn’t available prior to last season - an FCS postseason berth – it’s just as important to prepare for the conference season.

Woodside makes Summer League debut

Former North Dakota State guard Ben Woodside saw his first NBA Summer League action today (Monday).

Woodside – who did not play in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Summer League opener – scored one point in the team’s second game.

He played a little more than eight minutes, going 0-for-1 from the field and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line. He also had an assist.

The Wolves lost 96-91 to the NBA D-League Select Team. For you Wolves junkies, first-round pick Wayne Ellington scored 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Fellow first-rounder Jonny Flynn had 12 points and 14 assists.

Q and A with Ben Woodside

The Minneapolis Star Tribune did a Q and A with former North Dakota State men’s basketball point guard Ben Woodside.

Woodside was at the Target Center doing a workout in front of the Minnesota Timberwolves and other interested NBA scouts as he prepares for the NBA draft.

Getting into the NBA is much more difficult now than it was 10 or 15 years ago, since a guy like Woodside is going up against college underclassmen and overseas veterans for draft attention.

You’ll find much Bison coverage here. My opinion is he’ll get a look by some NBA team, most likely on a summer league team as an undrafted free agent.