Jeff Kolpack, Published January 04 2012
NDSU president returns to Texas
The Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game is two days away, and already the Bison could stake a claim to home-field advantage. Hunt, best known as the former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, is a revered figure in pro soccer, and his likeness overlooks the soccer stadium where NDSU will play Sam Houston State on Saturday.
Frisco is an area Bresciani is very familiar with after spending five years as vice president of student affairs at Texas A&M.
“This is what this place was built for,” he said of the FCS title game. “It was designed for visitors from out of town. Everything is new, exciting and vibrant.”
That about best describes NDSU’s Division I football program these days.
Bresciani arrived early Wednesday afternoon. His profile may be mostly with the football team of late, but there’s still a university to run. At last check, North Dakota State is made up of a vast network of academic arms.
The FCS title week is additional stress on Bresciani’s schedule. It’s as if he’s moonlighting.
“It adds a level of complication and scheduling demand,” he admitted.
It was just two years ago when Bresciani put the state of Texas behind and packed his bags for Fargo. At A&M, he was heavily involved in the football program.
He’s seen how football works in academic stops at North Carolina and Arizona.
He was asked after the Bison beat the University of Minnesota in September if he was exhausted from the entire week of Gophers hype. In reality, that was just another day at the office at A&M.
“There would be eight more games to go,” Bresciani said. “We’re very fortunate that although we’re an FCS school and our first time going all the way, we have staff that has come from places where it isn’t a first time for them.”
That experience translates to details, details, details. Bresciani had the university looking into keeping the residence halls open an extra day after final exams even before NDSU defeated Lehigh University (Pa.) in the quarterfinals. The semifinal game vs. Georgia Southern was held on Dec. 17.
“The truth is, once you’ve been through it, it’s not overwhelming,” he said. “You get the different nuances and the different way schools have handled things. I don’t want to suggest I’ve saved any catastrophes, but there have been a couple things where it’s been like, ‘Ooh, good one, glad we caught that.’”
Bresciani was prepared when the Bison defeated GSU to earn the trip to Frisco. He presented head coach Craig Bohl with a pair of cowboy boots in a celebratory locker room to signify the trip to Texas.
The president knows what football means to the state. He said Texans will go to the FCS title game on Saturday, even if they don’t know who’s playing.
“You’re going back to a culture where most of the tickets are going to people not affiliated with either school,” Bresciani said.
The way NDSU has gone about the culture of its football program has been impressive, he said. He points to three reasons it has reached the title game: strategy, approach and patience.
“I see it across the whole athletic program,” Bresciani said, “which isn’t win at any cost, which isn’t taking shortcuts and which isn’t, ‘I don’t care about the rest of the athletic program.’
“It isn’t, ‘I don’t care-about the community.’ It isn’t, ‘I don’t care about NDSU. They bring in the right student-athlete.”
By early Saturday night, win or lose, NDSU will have a postgame reception at a hotel complex in neighboring Plano, Texas.
“The postgame regardless of the outcome will be phenomenal,” he said, surveying the modern complex. “The funny thing for me is this didn’t exist 10 years ago. I was here before ‘it’ was here.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found