Reusse: In year of change, NDSU football finds able replacements

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 12:21 AM

New coach, starters will try to keep Bison rolling.

Chris Klieman: Inherits Bison’s 24-game winning streak after replacing Craig Bohl as coach.

The departures affecting North Dakota State’s football program have not been restricted to coach Craig Bohl, several assistants and 24 seniors who were the backbone of three consecutive national championships.

In mid-June, NDSU also learned that Gene Taylor, the athletic director who had led the Bison into Division I competition in 2004, would be leaving to become the deputy athletic director for Gary Barta at Iowa.

“I’m part of the search committee for a new athletic director,” football coach Chris Klieman said. “We have a candidate interview today.”

Klieman was saying this midweek, with the Bison a couple of days from putting a 24-game winning streak on the line in Saturday’s game at Iowa State.

The last of those victories was a 35-7 rout of Towson on Jan. 4 in the FCS championship game. It was almost a relief rather than a celebration for the NDSU faithful, considering the upheaval that had taken place with the Bison program a month earlier.

Word had leaked that Bohl would be taking the head coaching job at Wyoming as NDSU was starting the playoffs as a heavy favorite. Anything less than another title would be considered failure in Fargo.

The official announcement on Bohl’s departure was made on Dec. 8, one day after an opening playoff victory vs. Furman. A week later, Taylor announced that Klieman, the defensive coordinator, would be Bohl’s replacement when the season ended.

Bohl was said to be miffed because he thought Klieman had agreed to join his Wyoming staff. Klieman and NDSU backers were suspicious that Bohl might be interested in luring a few Bison recruits to the rarefied air of Laramie, Wyo.

The title was won. Bohl departed for the immense challenge at Wyoming. NDSU got its recruits, and Klieman set about the task of replacing 12 senior starters on the depth chart.

Any time for a conversation with your former boss?

“No, but that’s because we are both so busy,” Klieman said. “Craig and I are fine. I have a lot of friends out there, on his staff, and Craig has many friends here, so we definitely are rooting for each other.”

Taylor was the athletic director who led NDSU’s charge from its comfortable place in the D-II North Central Conference to becoming a Division I athletic program. As this dream was being laid out, the 2002 Bison were going 2-8 and finishing at the bottom of the North Central.

“There was a game against Augustana late in the season, the Bison got whipped [23-6], and there weren’t more than 5,000 in the dome,’’ said Mike McFeely, a Fargo radio host and former Fargo Forum sports columnist.

It was hard to see what Taylor had as a vision at that moment. A dozen years later, the Bison have both the three consecutive FCS titles and four victories in a row over FBS opponents:

2010: at Kansas (6-3). 2011: at Minnesota (37-24). 2012: at Colorado State (22-7). 2013: at Kansas State (24-21).

What NDSU won’t have at Iowa State are some 2013 seniors from Minnesota ­— Billy Turner (Mounds View) at left tackle, Grant Olson (Wayzata) at linebacker and Marcus Williams (Hopkins) in the secondary — who will stand as legendary Bison.

NDSU does have enough to be rated No. 1 in the FCS preseason poll, but it is missing some fantastic winners. The list starts with Brock Jensen, the quarterback from Waupaca, Wis., who was in the camp of the Miami Dolphins for two stretches this summer.

“Carson Wentz has been in our program for three years,” Klieman said. “We had him ready in case something happened to Brock. Nothing ever happened to Brock, so this will be Carson’s first start.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 74 4th Qtr
Miami 77
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 31 1st Half 0:47
Hawaii 32
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama

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