North Dakota State football coach Craig Bohl became testy toward the end of his postgame press conference Saturday following the Bison's 48-14 crushing of Coastal Carolina at the Fargodome. The assembled Fargo media had the audacity to ask Bohl two direct questions (one from me, one from Kevin Schnepf of The Forum) whether his decision to take the job at Wyoming was 1) a topic of discussion among the team during the week, or 2) if it had affected game preparation in anyway.
It was after the second question, posed by noted rabblerouser Schnepf, that Bohl became a little irritated. He explained the coaches are committed to seeing this Bison run through to the end and they are making sure every "I" is dotted in preparing for games. Then he shut off more questions about the coaching switch by saying strongly:
"Let's park this, OK?"
Couple of things here. First, regardless of final score, asking a couple of questions about the head coach leaving and how it might affect his current team is completely legitimate. That's called journalism, even though some media in this town would have you believe wearing hidden cameras into schools is the best we can do. Second, if Bohl didn't want him leaving NDSU to become a story during the playoffs then he should not have planned to announce the job switch until after the Bison's season was finished.
NDSU coach Craig Bohl prior to Saturday's big win over Coastal Carolina. (Photo credit Darren Gibbons Photography)
If for some reason Bohl is irritated at the local media for blowing the lid off his (completely legitimate) decision to leave NDSU, he needn't be. Bohl and Wyoming made the decision to announce the hiring last Sunday after NDSU's first-round playoff game. The fact the story was leaked even prior to that also (unfortunately) is not the Fargo media's fault. Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com broke the story based on a source at Wyoming. It was somebody in Laramie who ratted out Bohl, not somebody in Fargo.
That said, it was clear from the start the goofy week preceding Saturday's game didn't throw the mighty Bison off their game. NDSU had a 219-29 edge in total yards and led 17-0 after the first quarter. The Bison led 31-0 before Lorenzo Taliaferro's 3-yard touchdown run with 2:13 remaining in the second quarter got the Chanticleers on the board.
This one more resembled NDSU vs. Indiana State than NDSU vs. Playoffs Quarterfinal Team.
"We have a focused group of guys who are trying to accomplish greatness," Bison quarterback Brock Jensen said. "The world would have to end to affect this team's focus."
The Chanticleers came from the beaches of South Carolina with gaudy offensive statistics. They'd not scored fewer than 26 points against FCS competition and were averaging 43 points and 491 yards of offense. This led some, present company included, to surmise they could give the Bison a test. Perhaps not win, but at least make a run.
You'd think at some point those people, present company included, would realize the current collection of Bison are simply a cut or two above their FCS competition. Watching No. 2-ranked Eastern Illinois provide the defensive resistance of a flag football team Friday night in a loss to Towson should've only reinforced that.
These Bison have the best defense in FCS, the best special teams in FCS and -- despite not showing it statistically -- the best offense in FCS. Who is better offensively? More prolific, yes. But better? You tell me.
So if the head coach and apparently most of his staff are leaving for Laramie, how could that possibly affect this team?
"We have 24 seniors on this team," Bohl said. "There is not a lot that gets them rattled or off course."
The final statistics were stunning in their one-sidedness: 623 total yards, 424 rushing yards, 39:45 minutes of possession in a 60-minute game.
Chanticleers coach Joe Moglia, the Manhattan Billionaire, saw his team lose 70-10 to eighth-ranked South Carolina of the powerful Southeastern Conference. When asked Saturday how NDSU compared to other teams on Coastal's schedule, Moglia said: "I think South Carolina would beat them, but I think they'd give South Carolina a game."
After one quarter, it was 17-0 NDSU and high-flying Coastal Carolina had 29 yards of offense on four possessions.
"We knew they had a good defense, we knew they were the No. 1-ranked defense," Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross said. "We knew we would have to come out hot, playing hot, and we didn't do that."
The Bison machine rolls on and the question remains: Who will stop it? It doesn't look like any opponents will. And it certainly won't be the head coach's career decisions.
No need to even ask. Just ask the head coach.
(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)