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January 4, 2013

Craig Bohl

Garrett Bruhn

Joe Lund

Grant Olson

Marcus Williams


THE MODERATOR:  Welcome once again, Coach Bohl and the Bison, to your home away from home.  Craig, give us an overview and then we'll open it up for questions.
CRAIG BOHL:  First of all, we're really excited to be here in Frisco.  It's a great event.  Many times when you go the first time, you think it's phenomenal, and then you experience something the second time, and it's not quite as exciting.  That's really not been the case.  I know our players are excited and our coaching staff.  It's been a phenomenal experience the way this game has been staged.  We've had a great year, certainly was a challenge to get here.  It's hard to repeat.
The road here this year, I think, was a little bit more difficult than last year.  Nonetheless, we're here, and we're excited.  We have a great deal of respect for Sam Houston State.  Their head football coach and I have become close friends, and we're really embracing the competition, and so I think you're going to see a heck of a game tomorrow at kickoff.

Q.  Craig, can you talk about the Izzy button?
CRAIG BOHL:  You bet.  Dr.Isrow I guess coined the phrase "once a Bison always a Bison," and Bison pride, and Dr.Isrow gave so much to NDSU, he came with Darrell Mudra, who was part of the foundation on the football program.  He was a trainer at the time and then transitioned to I think the exercise physiology department.  He became a close friend of mine when I arrived.  I had never been a head coach before, and he had an opportunity to work with every head football coach that had been there after Darrell Mudra, ending with Coach Mudra.  So shed a lot of insight.
And then he also helped many of our players later on in the academic support area, encouraging guys, spending a lot of time with them as they matriculated through NDSU.
When he passed away, I had presented a game ball‑‑ talked to the players I think before our first South Dakota State game and went up to the hospital that night and gave it to him.  I think there's nobody, nobody out there that touched as many former players as what Izzy has, and as a result we wanted to honor that.  The players have a sticker on the back of their helmets, and as coaches we have one on our shirt.

Q.  (No microphone.)
MARCUS WILLIAMS:  Yeah, Dr.Izzy, every time you see him come in, he always had a smile on his face every time.  He always said, "once a Bison always a Bison," and he'll always have at least two or three stories for you that you can just go by, and he'll make you laugh.  Every time he came, if you were down or whatever, he'll make your day that much better.  He just had a bright smile on his face, and he wanted us to do the best, just like he said, before he passed.  He was a great guy.

Q.  We have two juniors and two seniors up there, maybe Joe and Grant can answer this.  Can you talk about the legacy of this group, the seniors, what they've done, and it's a small class, but then the juniors, here a second year, maybe even here a third year next year?  Can you talk about the legacy of this group?
JOE LUND:  Just learn to live with it, I guess.  But it really doesn't matter if you're a senior, a fifth‑year guy like me and Bruhn or a first‑year starting like Zach Johnson on the O‑line.  It doesn't matter the grade or the year.  You're plugged in, all the coaches got your back, to play everything, so...
GRANT OLSON:  I don't know about legacy.  We've still got a little bit of football to play.  But I do know that the recruiting class I came in with and then Garrett and Marcus' recruiting class are a very close group of guys.  Joe along with the older guys, when we first got here, were very demanding of us, and they pushed us very hard, but through that we've grown a lot as men, and they were then able to accept us, and that was something that allowed us to win the championship last year.
I think that's one of the reasons this team is so close and we've come as far as we have.  We're a very close group of men.  We care a lot about each other, we work hard for each other, and we play for each other.

Q.  This is for Coach Bohl and any of the players to answer it, too.  Have you guys yet stopped to think about what back‑to‑back FCS titles would mean for you guys, going off the legacy question here, what that would mean for you as a program, and if you have, what does if mean to you?
CRAIG BOHL:  We talked about it a little bit before the beginning of the year.  As the older players got together in my office we set out some goals, and the first goal we set about was to win the Missouri Valley Conference Championship, and once we able to accomplish that, the other goal we set about was to win the National Championship.  I think it is very difficult, I don't think, I know, it is very difficult to go back to back.  It's an unusual task.  It's possible.  We talked about the things that could lead to back‑to‑back National Championships.  For me personally, the experience that I had while at the University of Nebraska being part of back‑to‑back championships, I tried to recall a lot of the things that Coach Osborne had talked to me about as a younger coach and then saw those things, so we tried to instill a lot of those practices, points of emphasis and all those things that haven't had an opportunity to accomplish that, we're here.  As Grant said, there's a whole lot we have to do before we establish a legacy, but I think anytime a program goes back to back, you begin to elevate your program into a different realm.
Tomorrow is about a great opportunity to win a National Championship but another opportunity for us to potentially go back to back.
GARRETT BRUHN:  It started last year after the season.  Like Coach Bohl discussed, we talked about possibly going back to back, and we knew we had the talent to do it, but the thing is, like coaches, they talked to us about was there going to be a lack of motivation, would there be a dropoff from the year before.  I mean, we had one week off and we were right back to work.  Ever since then, we've got one close group of guys, and we haven't let off the gas yet, so we've got one more game to finish out strong.

Q.  Grant, this question is for you.  You guys talk a lot about the opportunities that you're fortunate enough to have each week and ultimately at the end of the season.  Probably tough to put into words, but how would you describe this opportunity this weekend?
GRANT OLSON:  Well, I think it's a very rare opportunity, first off.  There's not too many times you get to come and play in a National Championship.  So I know as a team we're very thankful for that.
I think it goes to show that hard work does, in fact, pay off, and doing it the right way matters, and I think as a team, coaches, players, everybody involved, we're very proud of how we've gotten here, not just the fact that we did get here but how we did it.  I think we did it the right way with a great group of men, and I'm very proud to be one of them.

Q.  This is for Joe and Coach Bohl.  I just wanted to ask you guys, the holdovers from the class of 2008, Joe, you're one of the few of them, to reflect on coming all the way from there to here, and also Coach Bohl, your thoughts on just the holdovers from 2008 that are still here.
CRAIG BOHL:  I might talk about it first.  Well, we appreciate the dedication of that crew, and certainly an interesting class and guys who stayed determined.  We have painted on the doors before we go out that those who stay will be champions, and Joe and the other seniors who made that decision, and it's a tough road to hoe sometimes, but they've chosen to stay, and they've won one championship, we're working on our second.  So appreciate their dedication to the program.  Joe?
JOE LUND:  Me, Ricky and Ty I think are the last ones left, Ricky Hagen and Ty Beckius.  It's been tough, but things have just come up along the road, for instance, life, change, team change.  Things differ from person to person, whether it's academic or it's related off the field.  Things happen for a reason, and we're still here and we're still a team.

Q.  Grant, what did you think of all the players after practice today?
GRANT OLSON:  I don't know, I think I can speak for everybody and say it was really cool to see everybody out there like Coach Bohl already talked about with Dr.Isrow.  Just the whole once a Bison always a Bison.  It's not somewhere you come and play four or five years and then you leave and you never go back.  It's a family, and once you're a part of it, you're always a part of it.  I'm pretty sure everybody up here can say we're very honored and blessed and privileged to be a part of it.

Q.  Garrett, for you, can you talk about how gratifying it is after everything you've gone through this year to get back and be able to play in this game when I think on this side of things a lot of people might have counted you out or thought you might not get all the way back, and here you are?
GARRETT BRUHN:  Well, it started real early this fall‑‑ not this fall, this summer, excuse me.  It's been a long road, and to be back here with my teammates, I couldn't ask for anything more.  For a senior season, a lot of guys want to go out and have their best years, do this, do that, maybe get an extra award at the end of the year, but for me this whole season has been about getting back on the field, and throughout the playoffs, there wasn't a better time to come back, and I'm glad my teammates have had my back the whole way through, and I'm glad to be here.

Q.  Marcus, when you remember this night last year, what was going through your mind, and do you think that'll be any different this year?
MARCUS WILLIAMS:  No, not exactly, but last year this night you really didn't know what to expect because it's my first National Championship game going in.  I tried to stay just as calm as I can because a lot of things are going through your mind like don't mess up on this play, don't go back on that play, make sure you have your fits right and everything.  Tonight we're going to watch film, and I'm just going to kind of relax my mind and just get ready for the game as good as I can.

Q.  This question is for Marcus:  Have you heard anything about the Sam Houston offense, expanding its offense pass offense due to what you were able to do to them in the National Championship game last year, and if so, how much are you looking forward to possibly getting a chance to defend against an improved passing game?
MARCUS WILLIAMS:  I really didn't hear much about what they've changed, but I know their quarterback, No.11, has improved a lot since last year in the passing game.  It's always a challenge every week.  I mean, I pride myself on guarding the best receivers, and I'm going to guard No.18, No.6 and those guys.  It's going to be a fun deal come tomorrow, and I'm ready for it, can't wait.

Q.  This question is for Grant and Joe:  With all the injuries that your teams that had to deal with this season, all the distractions and other things going on, I know this was the goal, but was there any point during the season where you looked up and thought you won't be able to get here?
GRANT OLSON:  Well, I don't think that we were necessarily looking at, okay, can we still win the national title or not.  I think we tried to take it as a week‑by‑week mentality, and I know that started with Coach Bohl and the leadership that he set forth, and I think these other captains here, Garrett and Joe and Marcus and the other guys on the team, did a phenomenal job of truly believing in that and working with that mentality.
JOE LUND:  For me, Coach Fuchs every week started off the week, this would be our best opponent, whoever we'd play.  We'd always get the best shot from conference people, South Dakota State, Illinois State, Southern Illinois.  They're going to give us everything.  So he always reiterated the next biggest game is the next game.  We don't really look past anybody; why would we?  We've only got one guaranteed game, and that's tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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