Josh Swanson knows sports. During his time at NDSU, he was the sports editor of NDSU’s student newspaper, “The Spectrum,” and writes a monthly column for Bison Illustrated called “Swany Says.”
Steve Walker was the starting quarterback for the Bison, from 2004 to 2007. During his time, he was a finalist for The Sports Network Walter Payton award, was recently named to the All-Time Great West Football Team and is the color analyst during football games this year for KFGO Radio.
What game are you most excited about?
Swany: The Northern Iowa game, without a doubt, we have one of their defensive backs; he was a long time starter at UNI, now playing for us. We also have Coach Klieman, who used to be their Defensive Coordinator. Their head coach, Farley, as a fan I can say, I think there’s a reason why other coaches and players are leaving there. And, there’s got to be some jealousy from his perspective. NDSU did something, in three years of eligible play, that his team has never been able to do, which is to win a championship.
Walker: Well, I’m going to have to disagree with you Mr. Swanson! I think the biggest one is going to be Colorado State. And, it’s not just because it’s an FBS team, but because it’s early enough in the season to kind of set the tone. We’re going to get that real quality opponent on the road, and see what the team is made of. That’s going to be the biggest one.
Players you’re going to watch?
Swany: The receiving corner…Warren Holloway, his absence will be big for this team. You’ve got Ryan Smith coming back, but we need to find someone opposite him. Cooper Wahlo is a guy who’s had a lot of potential coming in, for a long time, and needs to deliver this year. And, same with Trevor Gebhardt and Zach Vraa, two highly touted recruits from a couple years back, that have been hurt quite a bit. On defense, it would definitely have to be Travis Beck. He was the MVP of the championship game and he’s only a sophomore. He’s shown a lot of fantastic things, but I think we haven’t scratched the surface on him.
Walker: On the offensive side of the ball, I think Ryan Smith. You know, to see how he develops from year one, going from running back to receiver, to now being the receiver, and fine tuning those skills. On the defensive side, definitely Colton Heagle! He reminds me of so many of the guys that I played with—Dahl, Essler, Schommer. He goes after it hard and is a smart kid. It will be nice to see how he will progress and to watch his leadership skills progress.
Better to watch a game in a booth or the stands?
Swany: For the last five or six years, up until this past season, I sat in the press box for Illustrated. And, it’s a lot more of a subdued atmosphere. Everyone’s paying attention to what’s going on. You have to really focus and watch the game to be able to analyze it, to critique it and to write about it. There’s a big part of me that’s a huge Bison fan, that it was tough for me to keep that inside,and to check my emotions up there. So, ultimately, I decided to move back to the stands— to where my seats are, and to take part in the game.
Walker: It changes. As a player, the coolest thing was walking out before pregame warm-ups; even before people started filling the stands. Going out there and collecting your thoughts, saying, ‘This is what we’ve got to do.’ That was always the most fun part for me, before it got crazy. Then, obviously it’s a whole other level of fun and excitement once the Dome is filled. As a fan, and now that I’m going to be doing the radio, I think the most exciting thing is just going to be, like Swany said, the whole day. NDSU does it right…from the tailgate lot, pregame warm-ups, the entire game and festivities. It’s hard to pin-point one thing.