When Michael Scott left “The Office” cast, the show just felt odd. Fanatics of the sitcom still enjoyed the episodes, but those first few just weren’t the same. Eventually, everyone got used to the show without the self-proclaimed “best boss in the world.” But it was definitely hard. Insert what Michael would say after that sentence.
Anyways, NDSU fans may experience the same feeling next year, especially with football and men’s basketball. The groups of players that fans have seen build both programs into FCS or mid-major powers are gone.
Gone are the 24 seniors that took a football program from 3-8 in 2009 to three straight national championships. Gone is a class of six seniors that has increased the win column each year into a 2013-14 Summit League regular season title and a No. 4 ranking in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 Poll.
The 2014-15 season is going to be different. Not necessarily in success, but in the look.
It will be weird not seeing Brock Jensen under center, Ryan Smith returning kicks, Billy Turner manhandling the line of scrimmage, Marcus Williams in coverage or Grant Olson making a solo tackle.
It will be weird not seeing Taylor Braun slash to the rim, Marshall Bjorklund faking out a defender with a shot fake, TrayVonn Wright dunking on everybody and their moms or Mike Felt slinging three pointers.
In “The Office,” it was weird not seeing Michael around the office saying, “that’s what she said” or “conference room, five minutes.”
People have a hard time adjusting to change. Watching the Bison football and men’s basketball teams recently was like watching a professional team play with how many years the seniors have held starting roles. Next year, the cast NDSU fans are used to seeing will be moved on, but many return to keep fans satisfied.
Much like “The Office.”
There are the Jim Halperts, the younger players that have contributed greatly to the success, like Zach Vraa, John Crockett, Carlton Littlejohn, Colten Heagle, Christian Dudzik, Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown and Chris Kading.
Then there are the Andy Bernards, waiting for their turn to step up, like Carson Wentz, CJ Smith, Joe Haeg, Esley Thorton, A.J. Jacobson and Carlin Dupree.
As many say, the cupboard isn’t bare and it’s time to reload, not rebuild. The culture of winning that these two senior classes brought to NDSU won’t leave campus with them. The next man up on the roster won’t be worrying about the teammates they lost.
And for Bison fans, that might take a little more time to get used to once the gamesbegin. But fans of “The Office” didn’t stop watching the final seasons when Michael left. Just as Bison fans will adjust to the fresh face rosters.
The posters, game programs and advertisements will have new faces. The numbers at certain positions will be different. Even the coaching staff will be different for football (and keep a lookout for the which-bigger-school-is-talking-to-Saul-Phillips rumor.)
Change is inevitable. For the last three years, NDSU fans have watched the same group of young men take the football field or basketball court. Next year, a new chapter begins. And that should be a reason for fans to be just as excited as they were for previous years.