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Kolpack: Gophers vs. Lindenwood in football? Another dagger to the glory days of Bison – InForum

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The FBS scheduling arrangement at the Division I university, 180 miles to the southeast, just reached a new level Tuesday. The University of Minnesota announced a non-conference football matchup with Lindenwood University.

Football, not hockey. Football, not men’s or women’s basketball. Football, not football.

Football.

Just keep turning the blade. Another dagger. Another photo of the memories of North Dakota State and Minnesota filling the Metrodome or packing what is now Huntington Bank Stadium.

It’s been seven years since NDSU successfully scheduled an FBS game, but the Bison keep trying. The 2022 Arizona game was signed in 2017. The August 29 University of Colorado game was completed in 2016. The Bison will play Oregon in 2028, although that deal was a postponement of the 2020 pandemic and that game was also booked in 2016.

Todd Phelps, NDSU associate director of athletics, uses software called “Gridiron” to find opponents. It lists FBS schools looking for FCS opponents or vice versa, and provides an overview of who and how to contact.

“Yes, I reach out all the time,” Phelps said, “whether it’s an email or a phone call and say, here are the dates I have available, let me know. I’m not having much luck. It is still ongoing with Group of Fives and Power Fives and still notable.”

Of course, that still includes Minnesota. Phelps no longer bothers to contact the Gophers directly, saying he has heard from his coaches, who know their coaches, that they have indicated there is no interest.

State of South Dakota? Don’t bother calling. The University of North Dakota has scheduled 2028 and 2030 games in Minnesota; UND fans better hope a buyout isn’t part of that equation.

Who is Lindenwood, Gopher fans may wonder? It is a private university with approximately 7,000 students located in St. Charles, Missouri, about 20 minutes north of St. Louis. The Lions’ season-opening games just two years ago, just months removed from announcing a reclassification from Division II to Division I, were against Houston Baptist and Keizer University. This is no insult to Keizer of West Palm Beach, Florida, who won the NAIA national championship last year.

The Lions opened last season against Wisconsin-Stevens Point. But things escalate quickly; Next fall’s opener is at the University of Kansas. They joined the Ohio Valley Conference.

I’ve been to Lindenwood. Granted it was two years ago, but it was a nice facility with some cool bricks for the football stadium – if you’re a MIAC school. It can accommodate 7,450 people. I have a college friend who was once on the school board and who predicted two years ago that the school would not support all of its athletic programs.

In March, the school announced it was cutting 10 sports, which was more of a move to streamline the athletic department. It most likely had too many programs if it wanted to bring the others up to DI standards. The athletics director called it a step for the “long-term sustainability” of the program.

There is potential here. Lindenwood has history; Founded in 1832, it is the second-oldest university west of the Mississippi River. When it comes to athletics, better late than never.

The Lou Brock Sports Complex baseball stadium has an awesome bronze statue of Lou getting ready to steal a base.

Yeah, the Lions playing in Minnesota isn’t shocking news. What matters is bowl eligibility and facing top level FCS teams is a risk. The Big Ten isn’t easy with USC, UCLA, Washington and Oregon entering the mix. It’s about wins at the expense of the fans. It’s happening here (see NDSU men’s basketball vs. Oak Hill Christian). SDSU will play Augustana in football this season.

At least there is hope elsewhere. Iowa State and Iowa still play a non-conference football game every year. Northern Iowa has been a fixture on the Iowa and ISU schedule over the years.

UNI has both Iowa and Iowa State in 2026. The Bison have East Tennessee State, Central Arkansas and Austin Peay. As for FBS games?

“We were close to a few things, but it just didn’t work out,” Phelps said.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff would like to dispel the idea that he was there when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is already in his third decade as a reporter at Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, the Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 at The Forum, where he has covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995 .
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU’s Division I FCS national football titles and written three books: “Horns Up,” “North Dakota Tough” and “Covid Kids.” He is the radio host of “The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack” from April to August.

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