FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Veteran players on North Dakota State's football team say news that coach Craig Bohl would be leaving for Wyoming after the playoffs was harder on their younger teammates who haven't grasped the commercial aspect of college athletics.
Bison captains Cole Jirek and Grant Olson said Tuesday that many players, particularly the underclassmen, were stunned when they first heard that Bohl would take over the Cowboys, but have accepted the reality of the coach's move to a higher level of NCAA football.
"It's a lot easier being a senior to understand what's going on," Jirek said. "When you're a freshman you don't understand, football's a business. It's college football, it's all about money. We think it's about us as the player, but really it's about the bottom dollar."
Bohl will be guaranteed $750,000 in the first year of his five-year contract with Wyoming. His pay will increase each year and reach $950,000 in the final year. With various incentives, he could earn more than $1 million a year.
Olson said Bohl's announcement to the players Sunday morning was greeted with a wide range of emotions, from "mad, upset, hurt, shocked and anything in between." After players had "a little bit of time to settle down," Olson said, they realized it was best to pick up the conversation after NDSU's quest for a third straight Football Championship Subdivision title.
"We'll worry about it whenever the season is over. Hopefully that's in January," Olson said, referring to the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 4.
Gene Taylor, the NDSU athletic director, met with Jirek, Olson and the other four captains about the choice to keep the coaching staff in place for the playoff run. Olson said it was "absolutely the best decision." Jirek said the captains told the players to get on board or get out.
"If you're not 100 percent bought in to the coaching staff and everything we've got going right now, you're not part of this team," Jirek said of the captains' message.