In a recent article by Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, it was revealed that the North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota football rivalry almost came back.
In emails between both NDSU Athletic Director Gene Taylor and UND AD Brian Faison, obtained through an open records request, the two had appeared to nail down dates in September of 2015 and 2017 to play a "home and home" series.
Faison had emailed specific dates to Taylor, but Taylor did no respond until early this year.
Taylor said that due to "ticket demand" and the amount of money NDSU needs to generate from football, he no longer could agree to the home and home. He instead countered with both games coming to Fargo, offering UND between $175,000 and $190,000.
Faison said that would not work and offered to move the 2017 game to a different year. It was never stated in the article if Taylor responded to this email or not. So, we can't say for sure the rivalry is dead but there a couple things to think about from this story.
The first is how much money would NDSU have been offered to come to UND in 2017? If NDSU was not willing to give up a home game, it could not have been that significant.
I understand the want for six home games a year and a road FBS game. That is a ton of money for an FCS program, especially one of NDSU's caliber. NDSU will sell out nearly every game this season and any resulting home playoff games.
If UND is not willing to take nearly $200,000 dollars to hop on a bus and drive a hour down I-29, someone is willing to hop in a plane and fly to take that kind of money and NDSU knows that. That is why they are requesting back-to-back games at the Fargodome.
I can already see UND fans complaining that Gene Taylor is a bully. Trying to force UND into two games in Fargo. I can sympathize with you but who has all the power in these discussions? Faison has a struggling football program that averaged nearly 5,000 fans below Alerus Center capacity for the 2013 season.
Taylor has a program that just won their third straight national titles and had ESPN show up to the city to highlight the football team. I think Taylor has the upper hand here. I think he is being awfully generous offering UND as much as he is, considering how minimal the cost to make the trip would be for UND.
NDSU fans, you are right. This game is not needed for the Bison. They are fine without it and it would be a benefit for UND to play it. However, they don't see how you do. Here is reality for UND.
They play in a conference no one locally pays attention that much attention to, you have lost your foothold recruiting locally to not only NDSU, but other schools in the region and while your hockey team is the money maker for the school, you have a unique opportunity to have TWO money making athletic programs.
All of these things become possible if you get people LOCALLY to pay attention to what you are doing. You know what UND's most talked about game was last year? A non-conference game against South Dakota State University.
Just think of the attention a game against NDSU would bring to your program. Regardless if both games in the next couple years were in Fargo.
So, despite what Faison decided, UND needs this. They should have taken the money with a smile. Instead, they've decided that playing this game in front of what would probably be 60 percent NDSU fans in Grand Forks is more important.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called The Pinto and White Shadow Show. Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.