Frisco, Texas, has turned into a winter vacation spot for North Dakotans and Minnesotans. With North Dakota State playing in the FCS national championship during the 2011-2015 seasons, Bison fans have it down on where to go and what to do during that early January weekend. Heck, some NDSU fans went down last year even though the Bison weren’t playing.
We talked to three NDSU diehards who have a combined 16 trips to the Frisco. They shared a few unforgettable moments and some tips on what to do for those unfamiliar with the area.
Ty Olschlager (NDSU Class of 2012)
“My dad is a season ticket holder who used to have 4 tickets but dropped to 2 when I started school at NDSU (a decision I still nag him about from time to time). I fortunately know a very gracious season ticket holder who gives me "right of first refusal" with his seats. I've been an NDSU fan for as long as I could walk and talk, some of my best memories growing up were going to NDSU football games, both home and away, including some away DII playoff games in the mid/late 90's and early 2000's. We should've hosted a few of those games.”
Josh Swanson (NDSU Class of 2005)
“My first Bison game was a Division II quarterfinal playoff game in 1990 against Cal Poly, who was also Division II at the time. My dad took my twin brother, who is now one of NDSU’s assistant athletic directors, and myself to the game. NDSU beat Cal Poly and went on to win the national championship in an undefeated season. I’ve been hooked ever since. When the Fargodome opened in 1993, my family got season tickets for that first season and we’ve had them ever since. I grew up going to Bison football camps and was a ball boy for the team for several years. I even served as a backup video guy in college who would film practices for the team if one of the coaches called. I graduated from NDSU in 2005 with degrees in political science and history. I started writing for the Bison Illustrated my second year of law school at Creighton, have been a proud member of Team Makers for about a decade and have only missed four games in the dome in the last 25 years.”
Nic Prothero (NDSU Class of 2003)
Nic has been a season ticket holder since 2005 and went to Frisco last year to watch James Madison take on Youngstown State. The last three years, he has had two 20-person suites in Toyota Stadium.
Favorite stories from Frisco
Ty: 1. After the first championship game, I celebrated so much and for so long after the game on the field that the group I rode down with was about to leave me. They took a celebratory photo in the parking lot after the game and had to superimpose me.
2. At Scruffy Duffies, a local establishment, after the 2016 national championship game hearing both "Thunderstruck" and "We Are The Champions" looping every 15 minutes or so and the 95% pro NDSU crowd screaming both at the top of their lungs every time.
3. Also, at Scruffy Duffies during the 2016 national championship weekend, seeing a couple Jacksonville State fans walk in, see all the Bison fans, look at each other in disbelief, and proceed to walk right back out.
4. Touring AT&T Stadium during the 2015 National Championship weekend and seeing all the Ohio State and Oregon fans getting ready for the first ever College Football National Championship game down there the following Monday and overhearing an Ohio State fan saying, "they're everywhere" referring to all the Bison fans around.
5. Throughout "The Run" seeing how much more Frisco and the Dallas metro area embraced us every year. Going to restaurants throughout the area and being told repeatedly they love it when we come down there. Also, seeing the deals restaurants and bars had for NDSU fans and stating fans of the opposing teams pay double. It's been special seeing the progress of the area and the game over the past 6 years and I would encourage every football fan, whether DIII or FBS, to get down there as it's a bucket list event…if you can get tickets! Go Bison!
Josh: 1. The first year we played in Frisco, NDSU held its pep rally at the Marriot Legacy in Plano. The hotel planned for a crowd of hundreds and thousands showed up. The hotel staff was literally overrun and carting in cases of beers all night, sending pickups to buy cases wherever they could find them. The next day, we beat Sam Houston State to win our first FCS national title.
2. The second and third years in Frisco, NDSU rented the nearby minor league baseball stadium and upwards of 10,000 Bison fans showed up. Everywhere you looked for miles around the stadium, it was green and yellow everywhere. There were a few Sam Houston State fans at the hotel next to the baseball stadium. When we walked out, I remember one of them just shook his head at all of us, looked at his buddy, and said, “We’re screwed tomorrow.” The Bison dominated the Bearkats the next day to win our second straight FCS championship.
3. I can’t remember which year, one of the owners of Scruffy Duffies, a guy named Jerry, sat down at our table and struck up a conversation. We had no idea he owned the place. He was very welcoming and complimentary of Bison fans. After he left, a server brought us a round of drinks and said it was from the owner, Jerry. It’s been one of our favorite places to go since. The food is great, the service is outstanding and the atmosphere is electric. It’s a bar/restaurant that I get to once a year, but it’s one of my favorite places! I can’t wait to go there with my wife this year.
4. This one is a little sentimental, but seeing my brother down on the field during the second FCS title, his first year back with NDSU. We grew up huge fans since we were little kids, were ball boys for the team, went to football camps, had become close friends with lots of the guys our age that played and he was a student manager our entire time at NDSU. To see it come full circle and watch him be part of that, and to win a national championship ring as a member of the athletic staff, is one of my all-time favorite Bison memories. I don’t think it will ever be topped.
Nic: 1. Having the same cab driver pick us up at the airport for Frisco 2 that dropped us off for Frisco 1. He then became our own personal driver and ended up taking vacation from work the following three years and renting a van and driving us and other NDSU fans around, working for tips.
2. Frisco 3 – We partied all day and night in the parking lot, and the Fargo Fox news station did their 9 and 10 p.m. news from our spot. We were the only ones left in the parking lot, and actually convinced another Bison fan we didn’t know to leave us their generator because ours was about out of gas. We partied until all the beer was gone.
3. Frisco 3 – People brought a bunch of pieces of sod out to the tailgating lots after the Towson game and we put it on our bar and used them as coasters.
4. Being at 3rd Base (Bar) on Thursday the first year and seeing the faces of the bar managers and staff. They didn’t know how to process it.
5. Drinking everyone out of booze the first 2-3 years
6. The first pep fest at the Marriott where they were expecting 4,000 people and got several thousand more and was out of beer by 9 p.m. The beer vendors then drove around to other bars/off-sale locations to rob their stock. They brought beer into the Marriott on those flat carts you use at Home Depot. We bought a case off that cart for $144 and put it in the middle of our table like a centerpiece.
7. Stopped in Oklahoma City for the night on the way down to Frisco 5. Found this upholstery shop on Google and had this 80-year-old man sew four 3-feet by 5-feet flags together because we couldn’t find an 8-feet or 10-feet NDSU flag in Fargo. We hung it up on the Texas sign and two days later, an NDSU fan was driving by as a Texas trooper was taking it down. They convinced the trooper to give it to them, they then put something on social media wondering who hung it up, and then found us at tailgating on Saturday morning and gave it back to us. We still have it.
Favorite things to do in the Frisco area outside of the game/tailgating
Ty: 1. The Pep Fest on Friday at Dr. Pepper Arena is always a great time to socialize with other passionate Bison fans and be entertained by the excellent programming at the same time.
2. Taking a Tour of AT&T Stadium is a must for any football fan. (I'm sure touring the Cowboys new practice venue in Frisco will be a great opportunity for people this year as well).
3. The Shops at Legacy area, in Plano, is a sight to behold with all the bars, restaurants and retail options.
4. Also, if you're a foodie, like me, you need to get some Texas barbecue and Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q won't disappoint and is a couple minute walk from the stadium.
Josh: Two of my favorite side trips while in Frisco for the five previous national championship games were The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Sixth Floor Museum is in the Texas School Book Depository building and takes you back to the horrible day in November 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The history in the air is still palpable as you can look into Lee Harvey Oswald's snipper nest on the sixth floor, walk the grassy knoll and see many of the artifacts from an event that changed the course of the 20th century while learning about JFK's legacy.
Getting to the Fort Worth Stockyards requires a bit of driving, but it's worth the trip. Besides the delicious barbecue and cold beers, the stockyards gives you a feel for how the Dallas metroplex got its start through the livestock industry and railroads. That history comes alive with an actual cattle run through the streets during the day.
Nic: 1. We like to get in on Wednesday or Thursday so we can put up shop at the bars and watch people come in on Thursday and Friday
2. We have put the NDSU flag on the Texas state line sign several years.
3. We have had a suite every year since year one, and the last 3 years we have had two 20-people suites. Usually ends up being about 25-30 in them by the second half
4. We actually went down last year and went to the game and all the bars/restaurants that we usually go to. Huge difference. HUGE.
Most fun or favorite trips to Frisco (ranked 1-5 with 1 being the most fun)
Ty: They've all been a blast so it's hard to choose one over the next since they're all unique but here it goes:
1: 2012 Championship game against Sam Houston State because I was a senior and it was our first go around with everything. I remember crying on the field as it was really the first title one of my teams had won in my life (I was 1 year old when they won the 1990 title)
2: 2015 Championship game against Illinois State because it was the most competitive, gut-wrenching of the championship games. Those 3rd and 4th down conversions and Carson to RJ catches on that last drive followed by Carson's game winning draw will always stand out.
3: 2016 Championship game against Jacksonville State because we absolutely dominated all three phases of the game and Carson got to put the NDSU jersey on one last time after his injury and put on a show.
4: 2014 Championship game against Towson University because that 2013 team was so dominant all season long and really only being tested twice all year against K-State and UNI. Was fun to see them cap off a perfect season in a big way.
5: 2013 Championship game against Sam Houston State because it was the second year in a row we beat them in the title game and we played arguably our best game of the season in that game. I'll never forget the arid snap that ended up being converted for a 2-point play and made SportsCenter's Top 10 plays.
Josh: They’re all incredibly special and memorable. It never gets to be old hat. It’s unbelievably difficult to win a single championship, just ask South Dakota State or Northern Iowa. I’m not being malicious about that, I respect both teams, and they’ve had some damn good teams. But they’ve never been to a championship, which is why our fans should never take this for granted. Hats off and thank you to our coaches, players and staff for their hard work in establishing a program and culture that lets us enjoy these kind of experiences.
The second FCS title where we repeated against Sam Houston State holds a special place because my brother was part of it. The first trip also stands out because I went there with my parents and grandparents. Three generations of our family celebrated all things NDSU in Frisco for several days before watching the Bison win our first FCS title.
This year will be another memorable trip as it’s the first time my wife Libby is going with (we just got married this fall). Maybe that’s what makes these trips so awesome and difficult to separate – the Bison Pride. Just that energy and so many people there supporting NDSU, celebrating NDSU and pulling for our team, that idea that the strength of the Bison truly is the Herd. It brings a tear to my eye every time I see so many Bison fans that far from home walking into a stadium.
Nic: 1. Frisco 3 – Perfect season, the win meant a lot more than even Frisco 1. The party was EPIC.
2. Frisco 4 – Best game, hands down.
3. Frisco 1 – Great experience, great game. Still remember Pike’s pick, Beck’s pick and the fake punt. First time will always be special.
4. Frisco 5 – Jacksonville State was completely outmatched from the opening whistle.
5. Frisco 2 – Not sure why, just kind of felt like it was guaranteed. Plus we were on the East side tailgating, seemed all sorts of wrong.