« Continue Browsing

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

Jeff Kolpack, Published January 04 2013

Bison pay tribute to Isrow with 'Izzy" decals on their helmets

FRISCO, Texas – North Dakota State Director of Sports Medicine Scott Woken had 500 buttons for former players and staff to honor a legendary Bison sports figure in Denis Isrow. He didn’t have many “Izzy” buttons left by the time NDSU finished its Friday football practice.

The longtime athletic trainer and staff member died in December, just a day after NDSU defeated Georgia Southern in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.

“Every time I saw him, he had a smile on his face,” said NDSU cornerback Marcus Williams. “Every time. And then he would have at least two or three stories for you. If you were down, he would make your day that much better.”

NDSU players will be wearing an “Izzy” decal on the back of their helmets today in the FCS title game against Sam Houston State. The Bison coaches will have a decal on their shirts.

Head coach Craig Bohl said Friday he drew on Isrow’s knowledge of previous NDSU head coaches from time to time. Bohl presented the game ball from the South Dakota State playoff win to Isrow, who was in the hospital.

“Nobody touched our former players like Izzy did,” Bohl said, “and as a result, we want to honor that.”

Road to Frisco was series of short trips

Bison senior tight end Garrett Bruhn said he remembers questions following last year’s Bison title concerning motivation to do it again. He said the players took just one week off and were back in weight-training mode in mid-January.

“One thing that was talked about: Will there be a drop off?” Bruhn said. “We went back to work and have a close group of guys who haven’t let up.”

Linebacker Grant Olson said the road back to Frisco was more of a series of short trips, meaning the season was all about playing each game as if it were the most important one.

“We’re very proud of how we got here,” Olson said. “Not just the fact that we get here, but how we got here. We did it the right way with a great group of young men, and I’m very proud to be one of them.”

Bohl said he did his best to recall what former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne did when the Cornhuskers were in back-to-back national championship games when Bohl was a Nebraska assistant.

“So we tried to instill that in a lot of those practices, points of emphasis,” he said. “There’s a whole lot to do before we establish a legacy but anytime a program goes back-to-back, you begin to elevate your program to a different realm. (Today) is about a great opportunity to win a national championship but another opportunity for us to potentially go back-to-back.”

Second year just as exciting as first

The second consecutive trip to Frisco didn’t mean it was less glamorous for the Bison, Bohl said. He paid tribute to the Frisco organizing committee and the NCAA in his Friday news conference.

“Many times, you go to something the first time and you think it’s phenomenal,” Bohl said. “Then the experience the second time is not quite as exciting. That’s not been the case.”

NDSU, despite holding the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, will be the visiting team this year as the result of losing a coin flip. Since arriving in Frisco on Wednesday, there appeared to be no major distractions.

“I think you’re going to see a heck of a game (today),” Bohl said.

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