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Bison’s Craig Bohl is enjoying life atop FCS ranks
Mixed in with blue-collar players like Jensen and linebacker Grant Olson, who once made 29 tackles in a game, are NFL prospects in cornerback Marcus Williams, who has 19 career interceptions, and 6-foot-6, 314-pound offensive tackle Billy Turner.
The football success has helped the school’s athletic budget grow from $5 million to $17.8 million the past 10 years.
The school’s 119-year football history is distinguished. North Dakota native Ron Erhardt coached the Bison in the 1960s before going to the NFL. Jim Wacker was there in the 1970s before heading to TCU and later Minnesota. Quarterbacks Jeff Bentrim (1986) and Chris Simdorn (1990) each won the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II’s top player, and the Bison won five D-II championships from 1983-90.
What once was a program that drew support from the Fargo area now brings in fans from every corner of the state, South Dakota and western Minnesota. Season-ticket sales have gone from 4,000 in 2004 to 12,000 this season, and Taylor said the 18,700-seat FargoDome is sold out for the third straight season.
Bohl’s second straight FCS title earned him an eight-year contract extension, through 2021, that pays him a base salary of $206,000 a year.
Bohl said he has to tell himself to step back sometimes and look at what he’s helped build.
“I understand this is really a pretty remarkable time,” he said. “What you want to do is make sure you’re focused on the next opponent, but you don’t want to forget about smelling some of the roses as you’re going through it because we’re in uncharted waters. In the midst of getting the next first down and winning the next game, you shouldn’t forget to really appreciate these players who are doing these special things.”
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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