FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday he told his players in an emotional team meeting during the weekend that his departure to Wyoming was no reason to pout.
Bohl, who will continue to coach the Bison in their quest for a third straight FCS title, visited with his players about the Wyoming job Sunday morning, after word leaked on social media following Saturday's second-round win over Furman.
Bison Athletic Director Gene Taylor said some players were hurt and upset by the news, but Bohl said during his weekly press conference Tuesday that he asked them to keep their emotions in check.
“I said, hey, this is a man's game played by men,” Bohl said. “You want to get all emotional and have a big cry and pity party or whatever, we ain't going to accomplish what we need to.”
Bohl said he told the players to “park that” and get focused for Saturday's quarterfinal game against Coastal Carolina at the Fargodome.
“This about the here and now and us,” Bohl told reporters, repeating his speech. “Let's go in and get ready to beat Coastal Carolina.”
Bohl, 55, is 101-32 in 11 seasons with NDSU. He led the team through its transition from NCAA Division II to Division I FCS football and into elite territory. The Bison (12-0) are trying to match Appalachian State's string of three straight FCS or Division I-AA titles.
Bohl, a former Nebraska player and assistant, said he wouldn't have agreed to finish the postseason if he didn't think he could manage the players. He said he's not worried about the move becoming a distraction, mainly because of a veteran lineup and coaching staff.
“That's not to minimize the potential of that,” Bohl said. “One thing that this group has been really good about is being focused on the task at hand. They're able to compartmentalize a lot of things.”
Bohl said players showed up at Monday's practice ready to work and are “galvanized to move forward and win.” Asked how he expected the fans to react Saturday, the coach said he hasn't had time to think about it.
“I do want to say, our fans have been phenomenal and I'm in hopes that our fans are going to continue to be phenomenal here,” Bohl said. “I'm confident it's going to stay that way long after I ride off into the sunset.”
Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia said he's not surprised that Bohl took the Wyoming job. Moglia, the former CEO of Omaha-based TD Ameritrade and a former adviser to coach Bo Pelini at Nebraska, has guided the Chanticleers (12-2) to their first appearance in the FCS quarterfinals.
“I don't think coaching is different than any other profession,” Moglia said. “Most coaches in the world are interested in being able to get that next step, improve their lot in life, take care of their family a little bit better, make a little bit more money.”
Bohl could make more than $1 million a year at Wyoming if he reaches certain incentives, like number of season tickets sold, conference championships, bowl games, and top 25 finishes in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He signed a five-year deal.
Moglia said Bohl has “done not a good job, he has done a phenomenal job” at NDSU and likely had other opportunities along the way. Moglia also said the program should remain near the top of FCS without Bohl.
“He's established a great program, and part of a great program's legacy is that you can have transition and you can continue to grow and continue to prosper,” Moglia said.
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