Greg Hansen: ‘Mr. Football’ on UA-NDSU connection, Bison fan travel plans – and Saturday’s winner

Dear Mr. Football: Who is considered the father of North Dakota State football?

A: Former Arizona football coach Darrell Mudra is your man. He coached the Bisons to their first of 17 national championships in 1965, finishing 11-0 and putting themselves on the football map. Before that, NDSU football was invisible.

When Arizona fired coach Jim LaRue after the 1966 season, he offered the job to San Diego State’s Don Coryell, future commander of the San Diego Chargers “Air Coryell” offense. Coryell refused. Arizona then chose Mudra over future Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy.

It seemed like a good rookie in 1968; the Wildcats opened 8-1 and were ranked No. 19 in the AP poll for the first time ever. But the season fell apart in a calamitous 30-7 “Ultimatum Bowl” loss to Arizona State and a 34- 7 Sun Backhand in Auburn.

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Darrell Mudra is carried off the field after the Wildcats’ 14-7 victory over Ohio State in 1967.

Arizona Daily Star file photo

Mudra later resigned after falling out with school president Richard Harvill over budgetary issues and academic requirements. He eventually found his calling in coaching positions in Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Northern Iowa, where he went 129-44 and, in 2000 , was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Dear Mr. Football: Is it possible for an FCS team in Fargo, ND to have better players than a Pac-12 team in Tucson?

A: In the last 10 NFL Drafts, North Dakota State has had seven players selected in the first four rounds, including first-round picks Carson Wentz and Trey Lance — both NFL starting quarterbacks.

Arizona had one player selected in the first four rounds: running back Ka’Deem Carey in 2014.

A year ago, I asked former North Dakota State baseball coach Tod Brown, a graduate of Sabino High School and UA, if the Bison football program was legit.

“It’s a 24-7-365 thing,” said Brown, who was a standout pitcher at Arizona in 1992 and is now baseball’s head coach at New Mexico. “The players and the coaches are celebrities. If they lose a match, it creates panic. But unless you live here, you probably can’t understand the expectations. They are off the charts.

Dear Mr. Football: Who agreed to schedule North Dakota State?

A: In early 2017, UA athletic director Greg Byrne approved a one-game deal with NDSU, paying the Bison $425,000 to play in Tucson that week. The man who did the leg work on the contract was former AU director of football operations Mike Parrish.

At the time, it seemed like a risky deal; in 2016, the NDSU stunned Iowa No. 16 27-21 in front of a crowd of 70,858 at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, his sixth straight win over an FBS school. This Iowa team was no accident; he then beat No. 2 Michigan and finished 8-5.

None of these men have any interest in Saturday’s game. Parrish is now the director of football operations at Western Michigan and Byrne, of course, is the DA at Alabama.

Dear Mr. Football: Is it true that the state of North Dakota expects about 10,000 of its gold-clad fans to be at Arizona Stadium?

A: Several North Dakota media outlets suggested this week that NDSU’s rabid fan base sees the Arizona game as a more attractive option than paying to attend another FCS National Championship game the first week of January in Frisco. , in Texas.

Many chose to spend their discretionary travel money on a Pac-12 game in Tucson rather than potentially going to Frisco for the 10th time in the past 12 years. Incredibly, NDSU have won all nine of their FCS league matches over the past 11 seasons.

Maybe Bison fans are a little jaded beating Towson State, Sam Houston State, Eastern Washington, Montana State and others for the national title and view winning a Pac-12 team as a more exciting endeavor. .

Dear Mr. Football: Has an out of town team ever filled 10,000 or more seats at Arizona Stadium?

A: No Pac-12 team has ever done that in a regular season game — not even ASU in its prime years, like its Rose Bowl clubs of 1987 and 1998. UA was careful not to sell as many tickets to Sun Devil fans anyway, and the demand outside of ASU has never been overwhelming, not even for vintage teams in Oregon, Washington or USC.

But there is precedent for North Dakota State having a notable presence at Arizona’s stadium. Iowa probably had 15,000 fans in the stadium for the 1987 season opener which drew 57,284 spectators. Ohio State might have had 10,000 fans in Tucson for a 2000 game that drew 57,361 and BYU easily had over 10,000 for the sold-out 2006 season opener.

Bison alumni have already booked the popular Frog & Firkin campus pre-game site.

Dear Mr. Football: What’s the best way to describe NDSU football mania?

A: The Bisons operate a radio network that includes 23 towns. The Arizona radio network includes five cities outside of Tucson: Phoenix, Thatcher, Lake Havasu City, Show Low and Sedona.

The NDSU radio network includes KYCR-AM in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, which is 240 miles away. It includes outlets in places such as Williston, ND, 390 miles west, and tiny Oakes, ND (population 1,798), 120 miles southeast. west.

If you’re superstitious, consider this: North Dakota State has had the privilege of playing on Fox Sports 1 only twice in history. He won both games: 2013 at Kansas State and 2014 at Iowa State, as part of his six-game winning streak against FBS opponents.

North Dakota State quarterback Cam Miller has a name, image and likeness deal with a mattress store.

Michael Ainsworth, Associated Press

Dear Mr. Football: Does name, image and likeness pay off for FCS schools like North Dakota State?

A: Bison quarterback Cam Miller was recently paid to do a series of television commercials for Comfort King, a North Dakota mattress company. And why not? Miller led NDSU to the FCS National Championship last season.

He calls it the “bed of champions”.

I’m still waiting to see Laura’s Arizona QB Jayden in a Tucson TV commercial.

Miller is typical of the Bison’s success with under-the-radar football rookies. He played at Solon High School, located 12 miles from the University of Iowa. However, the Hawkeyes did not offer him a scholarship. His three offers were from NDSU, South Dakota State and northern Iowa.

Despite Miller’s high profile, NDSU is a team that runs first and always defends. It’s the anti-Mike Leach offense in the state of Mississippi. Miller completed just nine assists in last season’s championship game win over Montana State.

It’s one thing to beat North Carolina A&T and Drake 99-17, like the Bison did this month. It’s another thing to wear a high profile at Arizona Stadium to face a team desperate for a win, a team that won’t make the mistake of neglecting NDSU like they did NAU a year ago. year.

If the Wildcats lose to NDSU, much of Jedd Fisch’s gains in the offseason will be dampened and his positive approach to the 2022 season will go poof. Arizona has too much to lose against the Bison.

Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or On Twitter: @ghansen711

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