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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 02 2013

Bison dealing with life in the limelight after defeating KSU

FARGO – The unofficial North Dakota State record for “most interviews after an upset” still belongs to former head basketball coach Tim Miles, who was on the phone constantly after his men’s basketball team beat the University of Wisconsin in 2006. The national spotlight went on for about a week.

Head coach Craig Bohl may have moved up to second place – in the same neighborhood as Saul Phillips when the Bison reached the NCAA basketball tournament in 2009 – after his football team defeated Kansas State 24-21 Friday night. Being a runner-up in that department is just fine with Bohl, too.

“I’m not going to blow Tim’s candle out to make mine shine brighter,” he said. “No, that’s quite alright. I’m not as effervescent as Tim.”

Miles said Monday he remembers the bus ride back from Madison, Wis., when almost the entire trip was spent returning calls and messages. He used the back of a Newsweek magazine to write down everybody he had to call back and that “filled up the entire magazine,” he said.

Ironically, Miles, who is now the head coach at the University of Nebraska, watched the Bison play K-State with Mike Wacker, the son of former Bison head football coach Jim Wacker. Mike Wacker was in Lincoln, Neb., on a visit.

Bohl was a guest on eight regional or national radio shows over the weekend, including ESPN radio and the Sirius satellite network. The New York Times interviewed him. It’s the most national media attention he’s dealt with in his 11 years at the school, he said.

“I think it’s great for our school,” Bohl said. “We’ve seen some spinoff in recruiting, we’ve already seen that. Perception becomes reality. That was a big, big win. That was a signature win for our program. That does redefine us? I can’t tell the text messages that I’ve gotten.”

That included Texas head coach Mack Brown, who sits on the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees with Bohl. It included former Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore, who also gave Bohl more advice: “After they beat Michigan, Urban Meyer told him to forget it,” Bohl said, quoting Moore. “And with the exception of you guys asking me questions, we need to live in the present and move on. So our goal is to win the next game.”

The next game is the home opener Saturday afternoon against Ferris State (Mich.). As customary, NDSU invoked its 24-hour rule that stipulates players have that amount of time to react to the outcome of a game. In Ferris, NDSU will have its first Division II opponent since playing Concordia-St. Paul in the 2006 season opener.

The Bulldogs were the numerical replacement on the schedule when Montana State bought out of a contract last winter. The Bison will be obvious heavy favorites against the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member that went 7-4 last season.

It will be the season opener for the Bulldogs. These teams played one other time, in 1999, when both were Division II programs. That was a 55-35 NDSU win at the Fargodome.

This one comes with the teams in significantly different stages. About the only likeness is student enrollment, with Ferris having 14,560 students and NDSU’s spring enrollment at 13,500.

Certainly, the “letdown” and “overlook” questions will be common this week.

“It’s important for us to move forward,” Bohl said. “One thing that is more dangerous than a team that doesn’t think they can win is a team that doesn’t think they can lose.”

Bohl said senior Leevon Perry, who was suspended for the K-State game, will start at defensive tackle against Ferris State. On the minus side, backup cornerback Jordan Champion will miss two to four weeks with an MCL strain in his knee.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia