SDSU bids farewell to USD

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

The days of rabbit carcasses and coyote heads are gone.

For years, SDSU and the University of South Dakota were at odds on the playing field, but those days ended when SDSU made the move to Division I athletics and left former rival USD behind.

Over the years, SDSU has proved themselves to USD with wins in football, basketball and baseball. SDSU has won the last three football games and head coach John Stiegelmeier has a 5-2 record against USD. Men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy has a record of 12-7 and women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston 9-1. Former baseball coach Mark Ekeland had an impressive record of 40-8 against USD.

The move has created emptiness in some aspects of the games. Attendance numbers are down and so is the level of energy at events.

“There’s so much emotion and feeling with a rivalry,” Athletic Director Fred Oien said. “We knew we’d lose some of the intensity, but if the rivalry (with USD) was the only reason not to move to D I it wouldn’t make sense.”

Amy Lundberg, a junior early childhood education major from Beresford, S.D., said she misses the rivalry between the schools.

“There’s no hype,” said Lundberg, who has attended both USD and SDSU. “I miss the t-shirts, security holding people back and the energy surrounding the game.”

Since the end of the rivalry, Lundberg said games are boring and she doesn’t pay attention to SDSU sports anymore.

Nagy said playing USD energized the team to the point that it was hard for him to control them.

“The players know that it’s so important to the fans and they can get too worked up,” Nagy said. “They love to play in front of people.”

Stiegelmeier agreed with Nagy.

“When you add the rivalry to the number of people in the stands, it creates a different environment,” Stiegelmeier said.

Oien said the loss of the USD rivalry doesn’t change the whole season since it’s just a few games.

“It’s nice not to put up with the antics,” Oien said.

Stiegelmeier and Nagy added that those “antics” were out of control and ridiculous at times.

Senior women’s basketball guard Stephanie Bolden said that it was exciting to play in front of so many fans, whether they were cheering for you or not.

“It gets you fired up and ready to play,” Bolden said.

The focus of the teams and athletic department is now North Dakota State University, who moved to D I this year. The football and men’s and women’s basketball games against NDSU were good indications of what a rivalry between the two schools could be like.

“We’ve moved on,” Stiegelmeier said. “The NDSU game took place and we didn’t miss a beat.”

Nagy said that the players know that their rivalry is with NDSU but some might wish they were still playing USD.

“I think it will be a good, nasty rivalry,” Nagy said. “We’re making the move together and there’s a respect for each other’s programs.”

On the football side of things Stiegelmeier said that the seniors had five years of USD and miss the real intense feel, but the freshmen have NDSU to concentrate on now.

Lundberg said she thinks that the NDSU rivalry won’t have the same energy as the USD rivalry did.

It is important for students, fans and athletes to remember that rivalries are built over time.

“They grow and build,” Oien said. “You get into a rhythm year after year and have memories of games from previous years. With those memories come feelings.”

Nagy said that it starts with the fans to make a strong rivalry.

“I think the NDSU rivalry will turn into a new rivalry and the crowds will get bigger over time,” Bolden said.

Stiegelmeier said all it takes is a little effort.

“When done right, it’s like the best movie you’ve seen.”

#1.885281:802183807.jpg:bballcolorjerry2.jpg:Michael Loney pivots around an NDSU defender during the Jan. 15 game in which SDSU won 78-59. NDSU is the new rival for SDSU.: