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Kolpack: Yep, the NDSU-UND football rivalry is still dead

FARGO -- It was a trip down Nostalgia Lane earlier this week when PBS revived the Bison-Sioux rivalry. Kudos to my friends down the street at the public TV station, "When They Were Kings" was well done and thoroughly and accurately researched.

Perhaps missing was the entertaining print and television matchup between The Forum's Dave Kolpack, Grand Forks Herald's Ryan Bakken and WDAY's Ed Schultz, but that may have to wait for the media version called "When They Were Smart Alecks."

Who can ever forget the headline in The Forum "Ed Schultz Needs a Gut Check."

The football games were their own spice of life, done in an era without internet message boards that can take a smoldering campfire and turn it into a five alarm job. They were done during a time when student groups from UND and NDSU got together before and after the game and didn't go overboard over who actually won the game.

The last time they played football was in 2003, and I'm here to tell you that it will take a minor miracle for it to be scheduled again in this generation. There's just too much he-says, she-says, and for that we're all to blame.

They won't play again as a result of all the cheap shots and verbal spats stemming from the Division I move by both schools. It's everybody, from presidents to athletic directors to coaches to prominent boosters to fans.

It will frankly take a few generations to forget the years 2002-12. In 2075, some smart aleck columnist will look back at those years and wonder what happened.

On Wednesday, UND was given credit for handling a disciplinary matter of four hockey captains at a party in a prompt way that NDSU did not in its petition fraud issue of the last few weeks. I'm not sure what NDSU's football situation had to do with UND's hockey situation, but so be it.

The comparison of who's better just never ends. It's like the two siblings who constantly argue over marbles, dice, H-O-R-S-E, food, trading cards, paper football or chores. At least they usually make up at the end of the day.

This rivalry will not. It is dead, stuck in liquid nitrogen at a cryonics company only to be resurrected with Ted Williams.

Allow me to write the obit:

NDSUND football died this week of the deadly disease called Division I Reclassificationitus, the result of constant we-are-better, back-and-forth jabs that were immediately accessible in seconds. Attempts at a peace treaty were at times valiant but ultimately unproductive. It was a long and prosperous life that was born at the turn of the 20th century that required few visits to the emergency room.

Oh, they had fun with the Nickel Trophy, stealing it in jest once in a while. They laughed over it. Even that trophy, with the buffalo on one side and an American Indian on the other, is history now that UND retired its nickname.

The last 10 years saw NDSUND living a lonely life. Nobody visited it in the nursing home until it perished this week. NDSUND is survived by the PBS film, a documentary in the 1990s called "Fire and Ice" and countless newspaper and television archives.

There is hope that the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff committee may someday raise NDSUND football from the dead, which will require highly successful seasons by both. But until then, rest in peace.

It was nice knowin' ya'.

Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co. Email him at His NDSU media blog can be found at