A brief history of Bison football

NDSU head coach Matt Entz hosting the 2019 FCS trophy. Courtesy | Bison Athletics

NDSU is known for many things, some better, some worse, but it is undeniable how essential its football team is to the Bison identity. The team has an extensive and triumphant history that many new students aren’t aware of.

What is surprising to many is that the Bison were once not the Bison. Originally, the university’s nickname was the Aggies. It was in 1922 when the new Bison name was adopted. In a survey conducted by The Spectrum at the time, 234 out of the 246 votes they collected favored the change.

It was in this year that NDSU started to play in Division II football. They would have to wait until 1965, when the team won its first NCAA championship.  At this level, NDSU would go on to win seven more championships.

However, in 2004, the team advanced to Division I in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Under the leadership of head coach Craig Bohl, it only took the team seven years to win their first title in 2011. They would go on to consistently win the next four years. Between 2011 and 2021, a total of nine championships were won.

It’s safe to say this impressive winning record has cemented their legacy at the top of FCS football. The next closest team, in terms of championship titles, is Georgia Southern with six.

The current head coach, Matt Entz, has led the team to two conference titles over his four years. During this time, his record stands at 50-7. In his first year, the team went undefeated.

Despite being a part of the FCS, the school has produced a notable amount of NFL players. NDSU quarterback Caron Wentz is the most well-known. He was the first NDSU player drafted and was the second pick overall, going to the Philadelphia Eagles. While injured, without playing, his team would go on to win Super Bowl 52. Currently, he is a free agent.

The only other Bison drafted in the first round was Trey Lance in 2022. He was the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Recently, for the 2023 season, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Other notable draftees include Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson, a 2022 second-round pick. Additionally, offensive lineman Cody Mauch was drafted just this year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round.

The information here was provided by the NCAA.

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