Thumping Thundering Herd
Bison fans come in bunches to support NDSU football
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 17:01
There were numbers that stuck out among North Dakota State fans on their trip to Frisco, Texas, for the FCS Championship earlier this month – 10,300 and 17,000.
The first of those numbers is how many tickets were sold for the Bison pep fest at Dr. Pepper Ballpark on Jan. 3, the night before the Bison went up against the Towson Tigers for their third-straight national title.
On the other hand, 17,000 represents the approximated number of Bison fans who showed up to Toyota Stadium for the game.
While the number of Bison faithful in Frisco for the 2011 and 2012 FCS titles was high, this time around is unparalleled. Fans bearing green and gold managed to sell out Dr. Pepper Ballpark for the pep fest.
Speakers at the game, including NDSU President Dean Bresciani and NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor, got the crowd roaring with words like “championship” and “three-peat,” though Bison fans typically don’t need that to bring up their noise levels.
“It’s a lot of fun seeing this many people from Fargo making the 15- hour trip down here,” said Jesse Braun, who is majoring in electrical engineering at NDSU.
“32 Below” also made their presence felt with a few familiar songs, but Bison fans may not have exactly been paying attention. Before the band even took the stage, various concession stands ran out of alcohol, leaving some fans upset.
Nonetheless, it didn’t stop them from having a good time.
“It’s amazing that you can bring 10,000 Bison fans just to pack them in here to drink and have fun,” said Josh Hahn, who made the trip from his residence in Fargo in time for the pep fest. “Every time we come down here, we see something new.”
The Bison faithful not only made their presence known at the pep rally, but all across the city as well. Roads between Texas and North Dakota weren’t forgotten either, as one could see all kinds of Bison gear and NDSU-themed vehicles on the way to Frisco.
“I would say that there’s more Bison gold and green here than there is in Fargo. It’s pretty exciting,” NDSU alumni Jaime Kubik said at the pep fest. “My favorite part is that you run into someone you know about every 10 minutes or so. That’s pretty fun.”
The tailgating lots the morning before the game were just as alive. Music blaring, people conversing over cooked food and kids tossing footballs could be seen everywhere surrounding Toyota Stadium. The NDSU Gold Star Marching Band also made an appearance for tailgaters to get people excited for the game.
“I think that the fan support that the Bison fan base has shown for this team, not only this year but the past couple years, is fantastic,” NDSU Alumni Tadd Tobkin said. “You look around here and you think ‘Is this a (Southeastern Conference) game or is a FCS Championship?’ I think it’s something to be proud of. It’s something special. All the fans should really be credited with their commitment to Bison Athletics, and in particular Bison football.”
Tobkin, who lives in the Dallas area, said it’s been convenient for him to have his alma mater play for three national titles just a short drive away.
He added that there are a considerable amount of people in the Dallas area who have become familiar with his former school because of Bison football’s success and their presence in Texas.
“The way I look at it, (NDSU) Athletics is the front porch to our university,” Tobkin said. “It’s helped give me things to talk about and people to meet who are familiar with my background.”
And per usual, NDSU fans rocked Toyota Stadium when the Bison ran out onto the field, even if it was to a malfunctioning introduction video on the jumbo-tron.
One could say that nothing gets in the way between NDSU and its football.
“It’s just like the atmosphere at home,” 1985 NDSU Alumni Lyndon Binbe said of Frisco. “You see a lot of people walking by that you know and everybody’s pumped up.”
After NDSU claimed the FCS crown over Towson 35-7, Bison head coach Craig Bohl said the following was exceptional. Bohl claimed, in his decades of coaching, never expected a following of such a size at a neutral site.
“To see all of our fans come and really embrace this football team is special,” Bohl said. “(Toyota Stadium) is a big league venue and we had a big-time crowd following from our fans. Hats off to them.”
Whether NDSU reaches a fourth title game in a row remains to be seen. But if it does, there isn’t much doubt they’ll have a big fan base right behind them in Frisco.
“The people here, they love us,” said David Torok, a former NDSU student who went to the game. “You feel like you’re in Fargo, but in Frisco. It’s great. It’s a home away from home.”