Eric Peterson, Published December 27 2011
Peterson: Longtime MSUM SID writing book
When Larry Scott visited Roland Dille – a former Minnesota State Moorhead president – for coffee last week, Dille showed Scott an ad in the New York Times. The full-page color ad featured Ed Schultz, an All-American quarterback for the Dragons in the 1970s.
“He showed it to me and he was kind of excited about that,” said Scott, a longtime fixture in the MSUM athletic department.
The scene reinforced for Scott the value of one of his current projects. Scott is writing a Dragons football book, focusing on the 23 seasons (1970-1992) when the legendary Ross Fortier was head coach.
“It’s amazing some of the people that came through the program,” said Scott, who started writing the yet-to-be-titled book in August. “I think some people today would be surprised how good a program we had back them.”
A political commentator who has his own show on MSNBC, Schultz was one of the 55 All-Americans that Fortier coached. That individual talent led to team success. The Dragons won nine conference titles and earned 10 playoff berths in Fortier’s 23 seasons.
Fortier had a 152-80-4 overall record. In 1981, the Dragons were ranked No. 1 heading into the NAIA Division I playoffs.
“I wanted to make sure that I could try to tell that story because it was a wonderful time,” said Scott, the school’s sports information director from 1969-2009. “It seems to me some of that has been lost or forgotten.”
The passage of time and the recent struggles have led to that disconnect. The Dragons have won two games in each of the past four seasons.
“I tell these stories around the office and to the younger players and the coaches and they say, ‘Really?’ ” Scott said. “We had a program that ranked quite favorably with the best in the country.”
Scott has kicked around the book idea the past few years. Fortier’s wife, Ann, has been one of those who encouraged Scott to put the pen to paper.
Scott said Fortier was a confident and smart coach who was also a great leader. That is what he hopes to get across in the book.
“There wasn’t much ego there and there certainly wasn’t much flash to him,” Scott said. “People from a distance probably thought, ‘What’s so special about this guy?’ … It was just a lot of things that added up.”
Fortier’s players went on to success in jobs ranging from a college president to a professional wrestler, and of course many coaches.
Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman played QB for the Dragons in the late 1970s, following Schultz as starter.
Scott Simpson was a tight end on that No. 1-ranked 1981 team, which had 10-0-1 record heading into the playoffs. Simpson became a pro wrestler and better known to the masses as “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff.
Scott said Simpson and Joe Laurinaitis both came to the Dragons from Golden Valley Lutheran College, which was in the Twin Cities area. Laurinaitis never played for MSUM, Scott said, but he did end up having a notable pro wrestling career. Laurinaitis was “Animal,” part of the Road Warriors tag team.
“We could have had all the wrestlers,” Scott said with a laugh.
Scott plans to interview around 40 former players for the book, which he hopes will be published by next fall.
“To those of us who were part of the program, the players and his former coaches, I think it’s going to bring back some good memories,” Scott said. “If we can do that, I think it’s worthwhile.”
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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found