Who will be the new Sioux?

BY foxsports • June 17, 2015

North Dakota now has seven choices for a new team name. That list has been winnowed over the last few months from well over a thousand suggestions to replace Fighting Sioux as the nickname for the school's athletic teams. A select committee, which includes Twins President Dave St. Peter, a Bismarck native and University of North Dakota grad, threw out plenty of stinkers. Some sounded like teams in the low minors of some sport or other, like Pride and Force and such drivel. North Dakota can do better than that.

But will it?

According to The Grand Forks Herald, here's the final list of seven candidates, as ranked by the committee. Each was given a score of -1, 0 or +1:

1.            Roughriders (48 points)

2.            Sun Dogs (46 points)

T.            North Stars (46 points)

4.            Nodaks (42 points)

5.            Fighting Hawks

6.            Green Hawks

7.            North Dakota

Yes, there's some feeling that simply playing as North Dakota is a good thing. I don't know why.

Let's be clear about this: North Dakota is not the North Stars. Yes, that Canadian carpetbagger stole our original NHL team in 1993. No, North Dakota, you may not have the name. Even though the Winter Sports Center in Grand Forks, N.D., home of the Fighting Sioux before magnificent Ralph Engelstad Arena was constructed, looked like a mini-Met Center on the tundra. No North Dakota North Stars. Not while I live!

And why, oh why, is NoDaks still in the running? A name like that would make the rugged icers of UND the subject of derision for decades to come. Please, no.

Which leaves Sun Dogs, Fighting Hawks and Green Hawks. Sun Dogs? Cute. But no.

The last remaining name is clearly the best: Roughriders.  The 26th President of the United States was a well-known outdoorsman, author of "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail" and Dakotas cattle rancher and sportsman. Cosmopolitan guy, too. When a plains blizzard killed his herd, he went east and ran for mayor of New York City. Robust, that's what Teddy Roosevelt was. A national park bears his name. His face is on Mount Rushmore, for cryin' out loud.

Trouble is, it's dirty. Apparently so. My spies tell me the nickname committee was shocked to learn that there is a double meaning to the name. I had to look it up and, actually, there is. Still, as one committee member is said to have remarked, you can find a double meaning to almost anything these days.

I hope mature heads prevail. North Dakota Roughriders hockey. Yup, has a great ring to it.

Why do we care in Minnesota? Because this is arguably our greatest hockey rivalry. To some Gopher fans, that honor will always go to Wisconsin, but to me, the Gophers versus The Team Formerly Known As The Fighting Sioux will always mean a topnotch, well-played -- if bitter -- rivalry.

So, why isn't North Dakota, whatever the team is called, on the Gophers' schedule? Actually, it might be but we won't know for a while. I doubt it for this coming season, however. While Minnesota makes its nonconference schedule something of a state secret for reasons unknown, North Dakota has already released its full schedule for the 2015-16 season. Minnesota isn't on it. A series might be squeezed in but look for the rivalry to rekindle big-time in 2016-17.

As you may remember, NoDak dropped off the Gophers' schedule because of university policies prohibiting opponents that use nicknames related to any ethnic or Native American group. Around the Minnesota hockey administration, the Grand Forks entry is currently referred to as The Green And White Team.

To me, they're still the Fighting Sioux. If they must replace that grand old name, I can only hope that they choose something worthy of the program's great tradition. To paraphrase one of the school's fight songs, stand up and cheer for the Roughriders!

DOUG McLEOD is the play-by-play voice of Gopher hockey and other events on FOX Sports North. The first college hockey game he ever broadcast was at North Dakota.

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