« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Jeff Kolpack, Published January 01 2012

Kolpack: Chapman started NDSU’s road to Frisco

Fargo - North Dakota State leaves for Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday morning. Destination: the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game.

There are all kinds of reasons the Bison are still playing football in January – by far the latest this program has played a game.

The athletic director knows what he’s doing.

The head coach put together a staff that collectively recruited a title-potential team. Now in his ninth year, Craig Bohl learned from a couple of very up years and a couple of down years on what works at this level.

The offensive coordinator Brent Vigen has found his play-calling rhythm, made possible by an effective passing game. The defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton can flat-out game plan.

Never underestimate team unity, which is operating at peak efficiency if you talk to the players.

You don’t hear about anybody stealing TVs these days.

But before all of that, before the A.D. hired the head coach, the single most important reason NDSU will be playing Sam Houston State (Texas) on Saturday will be watching the game on ESPN2 from his home in Colorado.

Joe Chapman.

He’s the guy that pushed the Division I move. If it weren’t for his directive, NDSU would be playing Minnesota-Duluth in the Division II playoffs or, at the least, just be starting a Division I transition because it was more or less forced to.

“Of course, watching it has just been wonderful,” Chapman said. “First of all, it’s not just about football. They’ve done well across the board.”

To say the last year of Chapman’s presidency was rocky would be an understatement. His comments were his first publically in about two years. An interview request was made to him with the stipulation it be about athletics.

Chapman, who resigned in October of 2009 after 11 years at NDSU, said he’s been doing some consulting and writing to stay busy. And he enjoys the landscape.

“Colorado is a great state, they haven’t completed the mountain removal project yet,” he said.

He’s kept close track of the football team the last two seasons, watching it on ESPN networks whenever possible. He’s watched the three playoff games this year.

Asked if it was what he envisioned when the Division I move was discussed earlier in the last decade, he talked about the front porch theory of a university. He noted NDSU’s impressive national research status.

“It’s really about the visibility,” he said. “I’m assuming they’re attracting a lot of people to the dome and to the BSA. It’s a lot of visibility and it’s good for the institution.”

Football visibility now for Chapman is more about the Denver Broncos.

“I keep a close eye on Joe Mays,” he said, of the former Bison and current starting Denver linebacker.

Chapman says he misses the close interaction with the football team. He attended nearly every game, home and away.

You can hammer him for some issues at NDSU. That’s fair game and that’s part of the job. But one thing that is undisputable is the role he played in raising the profile of the university.

The Bison will be on national television playing in a Division I championship game because of Chapman.

“It’s a great source of pride and it’s exciting,” he said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia