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UND football is ready for the Big Sky Conference

GRAND FORKS -- Since Nov. 1 of 2010, the University of North Dakota football program could only make plans to join the Big Sky Conference.

Finally, UND's first official function with its new league has arrived.

UND football coach Chris Mussman and senior defensive end Ross Brenneman are in Park City, Utah, where they took part in Monday's Big Sky Conference Football Kickoff -- a two-day event between the 13 football programs in the conference and the media covering the league.

Mussman had an opportunity Sunday to talk to coaches and also attend an officials meeting regarding the upcoming season.

"We had about a three-hour meeting with league officials and they gave a power-point presentation on how they call things and what they're looking for during games," Mussman said. "That's great for our staff, especially since we're going into the league."

The session also gave the UND football coach a chance to get to know some of the league coaches.

"I got a chance to talk to four or five coaches about the league and the games we'll be playing," Mussman said. "It was a lot of fun, especially for a newcomer."

UND also was represented on the league's preseason all-conference team announced Sunday. Junior receiver Greg Hardin was UND's lone selection on the team.

Hardin has been UND's top receiver the last two seasons, catching 84 passes for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"Greg has shown over the last two seasons the type of football player he can be and it is nice to see that our new league took notice of that by naming him to this team," Mussman said. "We'll need Greg to continue to put up the numbers he has for us to be successful in this transition."

Hardin was a first-team selection as a freshman and sophomore during UND's time in the Great West Conference.

Montana State led the Big Sky preseason team with six selections. Eastern Washington and UC Davis each placed four on the team.

UND will be one of four new teams in the league this season, joining UC Davis, Cal Poly and Southern Utah.

Southern Utah already has made a splash without playing a game. The preseason offensive player of the year is Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen, who also is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award -- presented annually to the top player in Division I FCS.

The league also unveiled its new logo Monday.

Speaking of new, UND will have a different look when the 2012 season begins. New uniforms for UND are scheduled to arrive in approximately two weeks.

UND's season opens Aug. 30 against South Dakota Mines. UND's first official Big Sky game is scheduled for Sept. 22 at Sacramento State.