We asked over 400 former Bison football players a multitude of questions regarding their time with the program. Here are some of the answers they had for us.
Question: In your time playing football for NDSU, what was your fondest memory?
“Winning 3 national titles.” – RJ Urzendowski (Wide Receiver, 2014-2018)
“In general, it was the just hanging with the teammates in the locker room, RDC, practice field, game field. My fondest memory of a single play was a dive play against Northern Colorado, I decleated the middle linebacker.” – Kevin Bloom (Offensive Line, 1989-1993)
“Senior year. The 1-2 Bison beating the undefeated, number one ranked Sioux at Dacotah Field and then running the table until the National Championship.” – Wayne Schluchter (Safety, 1978-1981)
“Developing lifelong friendships through working together towards a common goal.” – Kevin Donnalley (Defensive Back, 1976-1980)
“The lifetime friends I made.” – Jon Drechsel (Cornerback, 1984-1985)
“Being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977 and winning the National Championship in 1988. Also, beating UND is always a highlight!” – Chuck Rodgers (Cornerback, 1973-1976, Graduate Assistant 1987-1988)
“Home football games at Dacotah Field with the crowd in a fever pitch cheering us on. I especially loved playoff football at Dacotah Field and watching our opponents retreat into their sideline torpedo heater tunnels as they became demoralized by our methodical march up and down the field.” – Rob Greenwood (Linebacker, 1987-1991)
Question: How did your time with NDSU football shape your future (professionally, personally or otherwise)?
“I have always believed that if you want something you should have to work hard for it. Playing for the Bison just made me believe that even more. I know that if I am in a situation where hard work is ahead, it will not bother me.” – Nate Keller (Cornerback, 1998-2002)
“It taught me the value of commitment, dedication and pursuit of long-term success.” – Marty Sieh (Running Back, 1986-1990)
“I was exposed to what it took to be successful in all walks of life. Dedication, focus, flexibility with athletes, imagination, professionalism, goal setting and integrity.” – Al Fabricius (Defensive End, 1966-1970)
“I was a little guy, so it was ‘get tough or take a beating’. I think the mental toughness and work ethic I gained has paid off. No matter how bad things ever got, it wasn’t as bad as that damn 1986 Augustana game.” – Eric Larson (Defensive Back, 1985-1986)
“The work ethic and time management skills I developed while attending NDSU are likely the greatest contributors to the success I have achieved in my career.” – Samuel Boraas (Safety, 2003-2007)
“Professionally it taught me to be organized, on time and to set your goals high. Personally, it taught me that life is not fair and you are going to face a lot of adversity in your life and to rely on God first and to try to keep a positive attitude.” – Jason “Bubba” Kopp (Defensive/Offensive Line, 1996-2000)
Question: Which coach, teammate or other NDSU figure inspired you the most in your time at the school and why?
“Jim Kramer taught me more about life than he’ll ever know.” – Scott Stoczynski (Defensive End, 2007-2011)
“Steve Garske, roommate and he shared what it takes to be a Bison.” – Steve Dahl (Linebacker, 1982-1985)
“Coach (Gus) Bradley, he genuinely loved me as a person, was honest about what I needed to do to be successful. As a result, he was able to get me to find the best version of myself.” – Ryan Evenson (Linebacker, 1996-2001)
“Rocky.” – Isreal Moses IV (Safety, 1991-1995)
“Tim Polasek – the way he truly tried to better himself and his players every day, and the way he truly took pride and enjoyed his job, inspired me to try to do the same in my career.” – Drew Hushka (Fullback, 2006-2010)
“‘Izzy’ (Denis Isrow)– the guy was the definition of Bison Pride. I wasn’t around when he arrived on campus, but you just knew he got it.” – Monte Kubas (Defensive Tackle 1990-1994)
“Stacy Robinson. He was a superstar on the field and humble always.” – Matt Puetz (Wide Receiver, 1982-1983)
Question: After finishing your career at NDSU, what did you do?
“I started a career in nonprofits focusing on health and human services. I obtained my Master’s in ’96 and my PhD in ’13. I have been a nonprofit executive since ’96 and I am currently the President and CEO of Better Futures Minnesota, a social enterprise that works to transition men out of the correctional system into the community through the provision of housing, health and wellness, workforce development and employment services.” – Thomas Adams (Cornerback, 1987-1991)
“Went to work at Prairie Learning for Hall of Famer Walt Odegaard.” – Dave Marion (Offensive Tackle, 1989-1991)
“Went to graduate school in St. Cloud.” – Bill Zeller (Offensive Tackle, 1993)
“Graduated with a degree in Ag Econ, working in the domestic/international food manufacturing industry in operations, transportation and Procurement.” – Russel Shroyer (Linebacker, 1976-1979)
“Started working at AgCountry Farm Credit Services as a Loan Officer/Branch Manager.” – Andrew Grothmann (Fullback, 2009-2013)
“Spent nine years in law enforcement. Then transitioned into forensic accounting, which led me to banking and I am now a CFO of a bank.” – Evan Kooiker (Offensive Tackle, 1993-1996)
“Went to work for GMAC/ALLY Bank, married my college sweetheart who also played Softball for the Bison and started life.” – Ken Muckenhirn (Defensive Tackle, 1983-1987)
Question: The most memorable game for you was…
“Pitt State in 1993, the dome opener.” – Kevin Bloom (Offensive Line, 1989-1993)
“1986 Augustana game played in the blizzard. We all dressed for the game, even guys that had no hope of playing. No question. Damn near froze, but would’ve gone in it in a heartbeat if called on.” – Eric Larson (Defensive Back, 1985-1986)
“All four games against UND. My class never lost to the Sioux.” – Rob Greenwood (Linebacker, 1987-1991)
“Pitt State 1994 3 OT victory in the playoffs.” – Eric Heismeyer (Tight End, 1992-1996)
“The 1988 National Championship Game versus Portland State U. Portland State was coached by Pokey Allen and their offense was loaded with talent. So was our defense. The Bison prevailed 35-21.” – Chuck Rodgers (Cornerback, 1973-1976)
“Last game of my career. Losing to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in the playoffs in 1977. Always reminds me to ‘Stay Humble and Hungry’.” – Jon Walter (Offensive Tackle, 1974-1977)
“UC Davis, 1983″ – Doug Hushka (Cornerback, 1980-1983)
Question: In your mind, how can NDSU football continue its success both on and off the field?
“Continue to recruit good character kids. Regardless of how talented you are, good character overcomes a lot of nonsense that goes on. Character will keep you grounded and working hard. Put the time in, see results.” – Andrew Grothmann (Fullback, 2009-2013)
“Keep recruiting athletes with the character that matches the Bison Way.” – Josh Anderson (Tight End, 1996-1998)
“By never forgetting their core values but being open to changing with the times, which is exactly what they have been doing. Both with the recruiting landscape and taking NDSU into Division I athletics.” – Mark Sanders (Guard, 2000-2004)
“By continuing to recruit awesome young men. Not necessarily the best football players, but men who buy into the system and truly are here to win and not necessarily care who gets the credit.” – Nate Keller (Cornerback, 1998-2002)
“Look at the big picture and ‘do the right thing’.” – John Heller (Guard, 1964-1967)
“Continued success means staying ahead of the competition, on and off the field. Recruiting and preparation by the coaches. Training and dedication by the players, and fundraising and organization by the boosters.” – Scott VandeVoort (Tight End/Offensive Line, 1976-1979)
“Keep doing what they are doing…gets better every year” – Shane Dettmann (Wide Receiver, 1997-2001)
“Continue to get great people to Coach in the program. ones that understand Bison Tradition and Bison Fan support.” – Dan Smrekar (Running Back, 1969-1972)
“Protect the culture at all costs, have the highest of expectations, don’t compromise core values off the field for success on the field.” – Todd Zabel (Cornerback, 1985-1989)
“Starts from the top down. Having great leaders and the coaches we do and bringing in the right athletes for the program.” – Jared Peck (Tight End, 1997-2001)
“Tradition is a strategic advantage and differentiator, Pride is more than an emotion. Keep working Tradition and Pride as on-going strategies and keep all that have played as involved as we can.” – Matt Tracy (Offensive Line, 1984-1988)
“Keeping the same traditions and building on the team concept, not one player” – Paul Lenz (Nose Guard, 1985-1988)
“Great recruiting, Maintain high academic expectations, tolerate zero NCAA rule violations.” – Dan Borgenheimer (Defensive Line, 1978-1982)
“Bison Pride will always continue to push the program on and off the field. There is no magic on why the success has continued over the years.” – Chad Pundsack (Linebacker, 1990-1994)
A special thank you to Sean Fredricks and the entire BFPA for their help in completing this article.
Be sure to look for the print edition of our special Alumni issue on magazine stands or in your mailbox later this month.