Friday, October 19, 2007

Why I don't care anymore

Usually when I'm helping a customer at work for a prolonged period of time, they'll pop the following question on me:

"Where did you go to school at?"

And I answer. Which leads to a long-winded explanation about how I dislike my alma mater, North Dakota State University.

Two things led me to choosing to go there nearly 10 years ago:
1. Being a North Dakota resident, I got in-state tuition. Not that it was much of a discount. Maybe a couple hundred per semester.
2. This was the clincher. The Bison. My mom also went to NDSU, so I took this side in the near-daily debates in junior high about which team was better, the Bison or the Sioux (in-state rival University of North Dakota).

Unfortunately, after I gradumatated, they made many changes that I disagreed with. The forced resignation of the head of the Computer Science department and subsequent installation of a puppet leader. Turning Churchill Field into a parking lot for heavy machinery while the Memorial Union was expanded. The reorganization of ITS (which lead to the termination of a good acquaintence of mine). Announcing an addition to the Wellness Center 10 minutes after it opened. It just isn't the same school that I was excited to start at in the fall of 1999. Maybe growing up took a little shine off the apple. I could concede that.

The killer though? NDSU deciding to move to Division I athletics.

What the hell were they thinking? Did they have such a hard-on for the increased revenues that they just had to pop that cherry as soon as humanly possible?

I think the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, proved my point with his October 11th mailbag. He had gotten an e-mail from a friend, describing what a Colorado/Arizona NLCS meant. I quote, "I'm convinced that sports is all about history. If there's history, it's interesting. If not, who cares?"

This is EXACTLY why I don't care any more.

In 1999, the North Central Conference consisted of Northern Colorado, Nebraska-Omaha, South Dakota, South Dakota State, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato, Augustana, Morningside, North Dakota State, and North Dakota. A very strong conference, capable of generating two to three teams every year to seriously compete for the Division II Football Championship. And no school in that conference had generated more D-II football champions (8) than the Bison. Every year, there were three things you wanted to see as a Bison fan: undefeated season, national championship, and a win against the Sioux.

Heck, even a 1-10 season could have been considered a partial success if that one and only win would have been against UND. As I am fond of saying, "Without villians, there'd be no heroes." NDSU moving to Division I meant that there would be no more Bison/Sioux matchups for the Nickel Trophy (mostly because UND pussed out, but NDSU could have stayed D-II). After more than 100 contests, both regular season and playoffs, there'd be nothing to look forward to every fall (since NDSU could not qualify for the I-AA playoffs due to reclassification).

And North Dakota State at Minnesota IS NOT an acceptable substitute. Why? Again, the history. This week's matchup in the Twin Cities is only the second ever meeting between these two teams. The only people who truly care about the outcome of this game (that won't actually be playing it) are the gomers in North Dakota who are looking for a big upset and the national spotlight. Not going to happen. The Gophers are not on par with the Wolverines. Not now, maybe not ever. ESPN will not sit up and take notice if the Bison knock off the Gophers in the Metrodome.

And it's just not football either. The women's basketball team, which would draw more fans per night then the men's team, was a national D2 powerhouse. 5 titles in 6 years in the early-to-mid 90's. Now? You really think they have a chance against Tennessee? Connecticut? I thought so.

Other teams were on the rise too. The men's basketball was just getting their act together. Now they just have to settle for a lifetime of upsets over teams like Wisconsin and Marquette. Track and field was always strong. I think there are a few individual national champions in there. Women's soccer and men's baseball were also starting to gather steam. Now none of them will ever bring home gold.

The last real tie I had with the school was the NDSU Hockey Club. There had always been talk of starting a hockey program at NDSU. I always thought it could work. They wanted to top-down the effort. A vote to build a stadium for a team that didn't exist. Then someone realized it would have to be bottom-up effort. Start with a competitive club team. Play other club teams. Gradually build up the interest. Problem is, for some reason, people in Fargo don't care about hockey players over the age of 14 (and in some cases, 18). There's a reason one Junior team has left and another one might be on the way out. Title IX didn't help either. Appearently, you have to add both a mens team and womens team, or neither.

Unfortunately, after a couple of seasons, someone dropped the ball. I don't know what happened last year, but no one called me to help out. No one updated the web site. If you don't care, then we don't care.

So, what now? Nothing. It's over. We're through. I just don't care anymore.

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