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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 13 2011

Bison defensive backs coach Ward takes coordinator position at Drake

Saying he wanted to be a coordinator again, North Dakota State defensive backs coach Brian Ward is leaving the Bison for Drake University (Iowa).

Ward said he accepted the defensive coordinator position for the Bulldogs, who are a non-scholarship program in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

“I know for some people it may seem like an odd move,” Ward said. “In this profession, I wanted more of a leadership role. It had nothing to do with NDSU. They have the best athletic director and the best head coach a guy could work for.”

Ward came to NDSU after three years as the head coach at McPherson College (Kan.). Before that, he was assistant head coach at Wabash College (Ind.), defensive coordinator at Glendale Community College (Ariz.) and defensive coordinator at McPherson.

He said it was a tough decision to leave NDSU, but another major factor was Drake head coach Chris Creighton, who is a good friend and the godfather to two of Ward’s children. Creighton was the head coach at Wabash.

“I have to be myself,” Ward said. “It comes down to something I’m not. I had a great time here, but you know how this profession goes.”

Under Ward, the Bison went from near the bottom in interceptions in the FCS with three in 2009 to tied for eighth with 18 picks this season. The improvement in the secondary was cited as a big reason the Bison went from 3-8 in 2009 to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs this year under defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton.

“I think Scottie is the best guy around,” Ward said. “He’s a good friend and a good person.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia