I was in my old high school gymnasium this summer, reliving my glory days, when my middle school basketball coach said something to me that had never fully registered before.
“You’ve gotten a pretty special college experience up there in Fargo,” my former coach Arly Ohm said. “And I’m sure you already know that, but you probably won’t realize how truly special your time there has been until you’ve grown older.”
North Dakota State students should feel fortunate about the things we have been able to see and experience. And I think we all do realize how spoiled we’ve been. But it’s hard to put things into perspective when we’re living in the moment. And BisoNation has been in the moment for a while.
Bison students have taken the phrase once-in-a-lifetime, scoffed and said, “what do you mean once?”
When word got out Saturday that ESPN’s “College GameDay” would be returning to Fargo, the news was met with obvious excitement. But rather than a chest-bump-your-roommate kind of excitement, it was a rub-your-hands-and-smile-and-say “here we go again” kind of excitement.
That’s because students and fans have grown accustomed to seeing ESPN trucks roll into Fargo, a tweet regarding the Bison from a verified account, a write-up on a national website or a winter vacation in Texas where the Frisco locals treat you like a neighbor.
We have never really gotten a chance in the last couple years to sober up from all the glamor and attention. It’s been quite the bender.
I will use my fellow NDSU freshmen class of 2011 for example. We have experienced three national championships and the Frisco road trips to boot; four Football Bowl Subdivision wins; one NCAA Tournament men’s basketball win; nine home playoff games; seven playoff games, including Frisco, on an ESPN network and now two “College GameDay” visits.
The go-to tweet for any college student at 2 a.m. on a Friday is “I couldn’t have chosen a better college than (insert university).” Everyone’s college is the best college ever. But if there was a four-team “College Experience Playoff” bracket that accounts for the previous three years, NDSU would be seeded.
How many college students can say their team won a national championship, let alone three? And for the Internet trolls: I say being the best of 124 Division I Football Championship Subdivision teams and going through a 24-team playoff gauntlet is more exciting than playing in the Chum Bucket Bowl.
How many students can say “College GameDay” came to their town? University of Minnesota and Iowa State students can’t.
NDSU has been called “America’s team,” “the best kept secret in college athletics,” “the most dangerous college team in America,” “the best story in college football today,” “host to a must experience Fargodome game at least once in your life,” “a top-five tailgating school” and “home to a fan base as passionate as anywhere in the country.”
And once again, Fargo gets to show America what NDSU is all about on Saturday’s “GameDay” show, which averaged 1.83 million viewers last year.
There are many ways to get the college experience. At any college, you can switch majors three times, gain 15 pounds, go to a rager, lose your dignity for a night, call your parents and tell them you got a minor, go broke and figure out what you’re doing with your life. All while making new friends, learning and maturing into an adult. And once in awhile, you’ll get an opportunity that may never present itself again.
But at NDSU, we turn those once-in-a-lifetime experiences into traditions.