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Helmut Schmidt, Published December 12 2012

Bison foe Georgia Southern trying to attract North Dakota students

FARGO – Georgia Southern University is not only trying to take away North Dakota State’s shot at a second straight national football title, they’re also aiming to poach potential undergrads.

In the lead-up to Friday’s big Fargodome matchup between the Bison and the Eagles, Georgia Southern is trolling for students from North Dakota to complete its on-campus collection.

The school has students from 49 states and more than 90 countries, but nary a North Dakotan.

Warmth is front and center in the Georgia Southern pitch: It was 63 degrees earlier this week. Kids were cruising campus in shorts and flip flops. Plus, the average low temperature in January is 36 degrees, said Casey Jones, GSU’s assistant director of communications.

“It’s just an absolutely beautiful part of the country,” Jones said Wednesday. “Mild, mild winters down here. You bundle the weather with academics and we think we have a lot of good things to offer at Georgia Southern.”

But how will that sultry southern seduction play in God’s Country, where thanks to 20-below temperatures we can all walk on water for three months of the year?

In the battle of chitlins versus lutefisk, hurricanes versus blizzards, perhaps not too badly.

At Fargo’s South High, junior Taylor Machtell liked the idea of 63 degrees during finals week.

“Oooh, toasty!” she said, though she added she’s still walking around in flip flops at 27 degrees, thank you.

Her lunch companion, Sara Graber, said she’d want GSU to swoop down with some cash before she’d become an Eagle.

“If there’s nobody else from North Dakota, they’d need some sort of leverage because that’s pretty far away,” the junior said.

Other South students might be a tougher sell.

Junior Matt Dakken was flummoxed as to why anyone would leave the land of the wind chill factor. Even if GSU paid him to attend, he said he’d still bleed Bison green and yellow.

“They’d (GSU) definitely hurt their chances if they won on Friday. It would be detrimental,” Dakken said.

NDSU has students from 47 states and more than 80 countries, said Laura McDaniel, the assistant vice president for university relations.

The Bison also have their very own Georgian.

Nicholaus Meyers is from Augusta, about 50 miles north of GSU’s home of Statesboro.

The doctoral student in music said he just wanted to experience someplace other than the Deep South.

“I love it up here. I love the cold weather,” Meyers said.

“In Georgia, most of the year it’s so hot and humid you can’t go outside. You don’t die up here in the summer,” he said. “It’s cold, but it’s better than 115 degrees down in Georgia.”

Friday night’s game will be a semifinal matchup for the NCAA’s Football Championship Series. The winner goes on to the championship game in Frisco, Texas.

The Bison were last year’s national champs and beat Georgia Southern 35-7 in the semifinals.

Jones said he didn’t know if the Georgia Southern offer was attracting any peaches among North Dakota’s students, but “we are really, really pleased with the response.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583