FRISCO, Texas — When Dean Bresciani left his administrative position at Texas A&M three-plus years ago, he figured he would get his holidays back. The Aggies are a perennial FBS bowl-playing program after all.
It hasn’t turned out that way.
The North Dakota State president is 3-for-4 in Division I FCS title game appearances as the university leader. And in each case, the stage has gotten bigger. NDSU fans are expected to comprise 90 percent of the 20,700-seat Toyota Stadium capacity today when the Bison play Towson University (Md.) for the national championship.
The number of fans will probably be just short of what Texas A&M brought to the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome earlier this week. Considering the alumni base of A&M is considerably larger than NDSU’s, that’s a school-proportion pat on the back for NDSU.
“The national attention that it’s bringing North Dakota and North Dakota State University and the athletic program is on par (with) anything a BCS program would bring,” Bresciani said.
Bresciani was the vice president of student affairs at A&M. And when he left the school for NDSU, the thought of reaching the Division I FCS title game three straight years, not to mention the well-publicized appearance on ESPN’s “College GameDay,” was something Bresciani said nobody could ever imagine.
“I don’t even need to tell you the odds of a three-peat are just mathematically hard to even calculate,” he said.
Today, the championship game will be on ESPN2 — NDSU’s fourth appearance on national television starting with the season opener at Kansas State on Fox Sports 1. It’s been a win-win — the athletic department for its stature within Division I athletics, and the university for its academic recruiting.
“It’s been a mechanism for getting people to look at NDSU in a different light,” Bresciani said. “They’re looking at us as the major research university that we’ve always been. But people in some senses didn’t believe it until they saw us on ‘GameDay’ and that’s gotten them to look at the university and its academic programs in the same light as some of the biggest and best universities in the nation.”
Like some of the biggest universities in the country, NDSU has gone through a coaching change that will be official after the game. Craig Bohl announced last month that he’s moving on to the University of Wyoming as head coach. A week later, NDSU announced assistant Chris Klieman will take over as head coach.
Bresciani said he had no problems with how the whole situation went down. He said there was “no hesitation” in keeping Bohl until the season was finished.
“Knowing Craig and knowing where his focus is and where the focus of this team is, there aren’t any of these players that are wrapped up in that,” Bresciani said. “People have chosen or not chosen to make a big deal out of that. It’s not the players on this team. They’re focused on one thing and that’s winning this football game.”
He said hiring an assistant like Klieman is good for the consistency of the program. As the president, Bresciani has the final say on hires like the head football coach.
“We’re fortunate to keep that legacy, coaches who know our program and know how to run things,” he said.