Jeff Kolpack, Published April 12 2014
New Bison coach Richman grew up around college athletics
He was having a problem keeping college kids for an extended period of time to do the job – always having to break somebody else in sooner than he wanted.
It was not a task to be taken lightly. Game film is almost as important to a football coach as just about anything else in the business. So Richman turned to a familiar face to put some stability into the job: his 12-year-old son Dave.
“He was 12, that’s how much trust I had in him because on Sunday morning, I needed to have what I was seeing,” John Richman said. “He just loves college athletics. He grew up with it.”
Dave Richman is still growing with it, having being named the head coach of the North Dakota State men’s basketball team last Tuesday. It was yet another step in a business that in reality is all he’s ever known. He calls his first job being a football ball boy in second grade.
“I literally grew up on a football field, in those offices and on those busses,” Dave Richman said.
Before becoming president of NDSCS based in Wahpeton, John Richman was the head coach for several years before moving into administration. His wife, Marcia Richman, was an elementary school counselor when Dave was in his schooling years.
“It’s easy to make the comparison with my father, but it’s just as much my mother too,” Dave said. “Coaching is Xs and Os and I get that from my dad, but coaching is also learning how to listen, learning how to help, and I learned all those things from my mother. I was spoiled. I feel like I was always learning without always knowing it.”
Learning in college in adult life has come on the basketball court, not football. A pretty good player at Wahpeton High School – he was named to the Lion’s Class A all-star team in the summer – he played one year at Science. He was a bench guy for a team that won a region championship.
Having to deal with exercise-induced asthma, he shed the playing career in favor of being a student coach. Even with his family ties to the business, he said coaching still was never his total intention until he enrolled at NDSU.
He remembers when one of his good friends, former Bison assistant Dana Grimsrud, turned down enrolling in medical school to go into the coaching field.
“I remember that exact conversation,” Dave Richman said.
The start came when former NDSU head coach Ray Giacoletti offered the NDSU student coaching position to Richman. Giacoletti left NDSU a short time later, but Greg McDermott kept Richman on the job.
McDermott lasted just one year when Northern Iowa called. Richman went with him to the Cedar Falls, Iowa, school but one semester later, then NDSU head coach Tim Miles offered Richman the graduate assistant position.
He’s been on the Bison bench ever since.
“He’s highly organized and a really sharp guy,” Miles said this week.
Miles gave the example when NDSU was recruiting Michael Tveidt out of Pierre, S.D. Richman became the lead recruiter in trying to land the standout 6-7 forward.
“You couldn’t call juniors, so Dave had arranged Michael to call me or him on Monday evenings at a certain time,” Miles said. “If a certain time went by, Dave would call the high school coach and ask where Mike was. He was just on top of it. We were able to beat a lot of teams for Michael. And that’s just one example.”
The promotion ladder continued under Saul Phillips, who made Richman his associate head coach. Phillips said he gave Richman a lot of responsibilities and trusted him with all of them.
“Student coach, to grad assistant to assistant, he’s been able to make those moves that would cause other people to move geographically,” John Richman said.
Instead, all four of his daughters were born in Fargo. The last several days since he was named head coach have been crazy, he said, but he’ll take it.
He’s trying to put the final touches on NDSU’s recruiting class for next season. He had a prospect on campus over the weekend.
He’s trying to finalize his assistant staff. He’s meeting with each of NDSU’s four signed recruits in either Minnesota or Wisconsin to firm up their commitments.
His motto is WIN – What’s Important Now. That includes the returning Bison players.
“I hope to put out an impression it’s not about me,” Richman said. “I want it to be about our guys.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found