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Kevin Schnepf, Published December 07 2013

Schnepf: Fargodome is welcoming atmosphere compared to outdoors

Fargo - When asked his thoughts of playing indoors instead of outdoors in minus-20 degree temperatures, the quarterback with the most wins in Division I FCS history had this to say:

“I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Fargodome,” Brock Jensen said after his unbeaten North Dakota State Bison claimed a 38-7 playoff win over Furman on Saturday. “It’s ridiculously cold outside. No quarterback wants to play in minus-8 degree weather. The dome is the best.”

Yes, when it’s as cold as it was Saturday, the dome is undeniably a good thing.

More than 18,000 fans packed the 70-degree Fargodome again. Had this game been played outside Saturday, NDSU would have been lucky to get 8,000 fans to watch the Bison win their 21st straight game – the longest current FCS winning streak.

Ironically, NDSU’s next opponent – Coastal Carolina – proved that a warm-weather team from the beaches of South Carolina can win a game in the Arctic. The Chanticleers, a team that beat Furman 35-28 in the second game of the season, survived below-zero temperatures to register a 42-35 win at Montana.

It appeared Coastal Carolina’s quarterback was able to put up with the frigid temperatures, despite the Facebook outburst his father posted prior to the game – threatening to sue the NCAA if any of the players end up with frostbite.

When asked if he was surprised Coastal Carolina won in those conditions, Bison head coach Craig Bohl simply replied:

“No.”

When asked if he knew much about Coastal Carolina, Bohl said:

“I know it’s probably a lot warmer there than it is in Fargo.”

It was certainly a lot warmer in Greenville, S.C., when an estimated 150 Furman fans departed for Fargo. There was about a 90-degree difference between the two cities this week.

The brutal weather didn’t keep Furman fan Chris Mason from taking a tour of the tailgating lot west of the Fargodome. That’s where – under normal weather conditions – all 1,500 tailgating spots are filled. Saturday, it looked like a ghost town with about one-third of the lot filled.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Mason, father of Furman tight end Cameron Mason. “We heard so much about it. We wanted to go see this whole tailgating scene. They do it up right.”

Even in sub-zero temperatures.

Nick Gludt of West Fargo was part of a tailgating group huddled inside a tent – warmed up by a diesel-powered ground heater normally used at construction sites.

“It’s actually hot in here,” said Gludt, who remembers attending Bison games outdoors at old Dacotah Field. “I was at the blizzard bowl but nothing like this … not this cold. Let’s put it this way: We are happy for the dome.”

Not too far from Gludt’s tent was Jason Peterson of West Fargo. He was hoping to set up shop by 9 a.m. Saturday, but got delayed when he discovered the lockers on his trailer were frozen. He had to hold a lighter on them for more than 10 minutes to unthaw them.

“My wife said I’m certifiably nuts,” said Peterson, standing in his tent heated by two propane patio heaters. “We’ve been through heat, rain and bitter cold this season … but no snow yet. Maybe that’s coming next week when we play Montana.”

Well, Montana had its season end outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. Not many thought that was possible – even the Furman fans who thought Coastal Carolina wouldn’t know how to react to the freezing weather.

“I feel sorry for our compatriots from Coastal Carolina … they’re the guys from the beach,” said Michael Cheatham, who in his 28 years of following Furman football has missed only 11 games. “This is cold. It’s brisk. Just walking from your car to the dome, it takes a while to thaw out. I’m just grateful you all have a dome.”

So was NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor.

“I honestly don’t know how they did it back in the Dacotah Field days,” Taylor said. “They were a lot tougher than I was.”

So was Bison cornerback Marcus Williams – who, after sitting out the last two games with a knee injury, came up with one of his patented interceptions for a touchdown. So what did he think if Saturday’s game would’ve been played outside?

“Not a lot of passing. I can tell you that,” Williams said. “It’s 20-below out there right now, and I’m pretty sure there would have been a lot of running. It just proves what a great opportunity it is to have this dome … it just fuels our fans and it keeps us going and going and going.”

All the way, the Bison hope, to Frisco, Texas – where it is warm.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or kschnepf@forumcomm.com. Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com