NDSU players, fans plan early arrival for FCS game

North Dakota State football players and fans are planning

pre-dawn, sub-zero wakeup calls in advance of their home playoff

game against Coastal Carolina.

Kickoff for Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision

quarterfinal game is 11 a.m., in order to accommodate television

coverage. But the tailgating lots outside the Fargodome will open

at 5:30 a.m., and the pregame meal for players is scheduled for

7:15 a.m.

”Oh, that’s early. I am going to be tired,” Bison running back

John Crockett said with a smile. ”Actually, we are looking forward

to it. It’s going to be fun.”

The players will follow the same pregame routine as they have

for all home games this season, except this time they will be

gathering for breakfast instead of brunch. The normal spaghetti,

stir fry and sandwich bars will be replaced by scrambled eggs,

pancakes, French toast, waffles and lean meat.

But no bacon, said Jim Kramer, the team’s director of athletic

performance.

”It doesn’t digest very well,” he said.

Kramer said he doesn’t expect the sunrise start to be an issue.

He schedules summer workouts for the players at 5:30 a.m.

However, he doesn’t want players to go directly from their beds

to the breakfast table. He’s asking them to move around first in

order to work up an appetite for the morning meal.

”Your typical college student, I might worry about them,”

Kramer said. ”But your college student-athlete, that’s not going

to be a factor. This crew is not unaccustomed to getting up early

at all.”

Kramer also will have fuel for the players at intermission.

”People have asked me if we use some fancy, big-name supplement

to give the players an extra edge at halftime,” Kramer said. ”We

give them Rice Krispy bars and bananas. That’s what we’ve always

used. It’s been pretty successful.”

This is NDSU’s earliest kickoff since an 11 a.m. contest at

Minnesota in 2007. The Bison won that game 27-21.

”It’s going to be different for us,” Bison wide receiver Zach

Vraa said. ”We’re student-athletes, we get up for class early. So

it shouldn’t be too bad.”

Pat Simmers, executive director of Team Makers, the school’s

booster group, said he expects thousands of fans to turn out for

tailgating even with an early start and temperatures expected to be

around zero. He said ”there will be people there” at 5:30

a.m.

”We’re going to have heaters and food and hot and cold

beverages in the tents. It’s going to be more than comfortable in

the Bison corral,” Simmers said. ”I continue to believe that our

people our nuts, but they enjoy it. I’ve been a lot of places and

their passion is phenomenal.”