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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 12 2013

Kolpack: 24-hour rule pays for coaching moves, too

Fargo - It was 2007 when the University of Illinois football fans were frustrated and outraged by the school deciding to get rid of Chief Illiniwek, the school mascot. For a period of time, the Illini backers probably forgot that mascots don’t win football games, the players do.

When the Joe Paterno saga blew up at Penn State, it was assumed Happy Valley would delve into several seasons of serious ineptitude. Folks probably forgot that the players would have a say in that, and this year the Nittany Lions would have played in a bowl game if they were eligible.

Last Sunday, North Dakota State fans were thrown into a tizzy when head coach Craig Bohl accepted the position at the University of Wyoming. What followed was predictable: Some fans were mad, some were puzzled, some were accepting and others were wondering what would happen to the team with the FCS quarterfinals on tap.

Meanwhile, the players – the same guys who ultimately win or lose football games – spent about 24 hours wondering what just happened. By Monday, and if you believe all of the comments that you’ve heard this week from players and gauging by their good-character history there’s no reason to believe you shouldn’t, the drama was put to rest.

It’s as if they followed the head coach’s long-standing 24-hour rule only this time instead of getting one day to celebrate a win or one day to dwell on a defeat, they got one day to figure out why the head coach is leaving after the season.

If you’re looking for something to hold onto that this team won’t combust Saturday morning in the FCS quarterfinals against Coastal Carolina, that would be it. Bohl’s 11 years of insisting that his team display an even-keel attitude will pay off during a coaching change.

So perhaps the fans should follow the players’ lead.

Whatever you think of Bohl’s decision should not factor in how you act on Saturday morning. If anything, the reaction should be the opposite, not because of the head coach but because of the players.

Remember, these are many of the same guys who signed on the dotted line when the program was coming off a 3-8 season in 2009. To appreciate their accomplishments would be an understatement.

The coaching staff orchestrated the performance in getting this program to win consecutive FCS national titles but it was Brock Jensen running the offense, the offensive line opening holes, the kicking game doing its job, the defensive line holding its own, the linebackers making plays and Marcus Williams making a difference in the secondary.

Coaches leaving during postseason runs is nothing new, although you mostly see it at the FBS bowl level. There is always movement somewhere from the conclusion of the regular season to the holiday bowl games. You can’t expect schools and coaches to stand still for most of December.

And on that note, a new coach will be in place probably sooner than later. The fact no NDSU administrator has yet to utter the words “national search” leads me to believe Bison fans won’t have to wait until Christmas before they unwrap defensive coordinator Chris Klieman as the new head coach.

And if that happens and if the Bison are still playing, they will have 24 hours to digest it.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia