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Championship room taped off

Fargo -- It's a crime scene now, cordoned off by yellow caution tape. It's all for motivational show, because none of the North Dakota State football players would dare to enter the Championship Room anyway.

They can't.

The rule -- the unarguable, non-negotiable rule -- is a Bison player cannot enter unless they've won a title of some sort. The last group able to do that was the 2006 team that won the Great West Football Conference.

The temptation got tested one year when an assistant coach, in emergency need of space to hold a position meeting, told the players to gather in the Championship Room. The players declined, saying they hadn't earned it.

"You can peek from the outside every once in awhile," said senior running back D.J. McNorton. "You can see a couple of couches and two walls. Everybody wants to get in there."

It's not so sacred that absolutely nobody else can see it. Prospects are taken there on their recruiting visit.

"They told me you have to win to stay in this room," said Bison cornerback Marcus Williams. "Since I've been here, I've always seen that door that you can't walk through. It says 'Champions Only' so I want to be a part of that."

Reporters (I'm not going to say who) have been known to sneak in there to see what the big hubbub is all about. The original Championship Room was in the old locker room complex under the old Dacotah Field stands. Contents were transferred to the upgraded model adjacent to the NDSU locker room at the Fargodome.

The couches are nicer, that's for sure. I mean, that's what I was told.

For almost four decades, there was not one team that didn't have at least a few players who could enter. Then, while this area began a wet cycle with its rivers and lakes, a dry spell hit the Bison Championship Room.

No true freshman from teams starting in 1995 through the '06 Great West team won a conference or national title. The fifth-year seniors on this year's team enrolled in 2007.

"It's a big deal for us," said senior linebacker Preston Evans. "The Championship Room is locked down right now."

Here's what would make it a bigger deal: the Great West was fine and dandy, but a 4-0 record won the league. The Missouri Valley Football Conference consists of eight games, and every team with the exception of Missouri State has been ranked at some point in the last two years.

NDSU needs one win to knock that door down.

"We have a chance this week to take care of that," McNorton said.

Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,

which is owned by

Forum Communications Co.