Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Craig Bohl was a young football coach on
the University of Nebraska staff when the calls would come in.
The caller would ask about the Huskers' program and ways to implement some of
their ideas within his team.
And then the visit came. More questions, lots of film study, sideline time at
practice. And, yes, the presence of greatness.
The visitor left an indelible impression on Bohl. He was Eddie Robinson.
"He's a pillar in coaching and made such a difference in our country," Bohl
said. "One thing that I always appreciated about college athletics, in
particular football, is that it has traversed all the racial lines. And
here's somebody who was an outstanding football coach, but a better person.
And I was impressed as a young coach. He had such a legacy and he was taking
the time to constantly hone his skills as far as X's and O's, (and) he was
asking pinpointed questions about what we were doing at the University of
Nebraska at the time. Then when he came on a visit, he was very humble and
just a real student of the game. You could tell by his presence and how he
operated that he was truly a giant."
Thirty years later, Bohl doesn't just carry some of the principles of the
winningest coach in Division I history, the North Dakota State University
mentor is the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award recipient. The 26th annual award
honors the coach of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision, where
Robinson enjoyed his legendary career.
Bohl, 54, is doing quite well in building his legacy at NDSU. His Bison won
the FCS national championship last season, and after losing a dominant senior
class, he's kept the team on an elite level this year. In the regular season,
NDSU posted a 10-1 record, won an outright Missouri Valley Football Conference
title and was ranked No. 1 for nine weeks.
The Bison (13-1) have since won three playoff games and are returning to the
FCS national championship game on Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, hoping to defend
their title against Sam Houston State.
"What has occurred now is you get your best shot from everybody," Bohl said.
"Every Saturday, people recognize that you're a program that has won a
"We're fortunate, I think we've got some pretty good athletes within our
program. We're certainly not as experienced this year as what we were last
year. What we've tried to do is just really rely on a lot of the legacy that
the seniors have left before."
NDSU has a rich football tradition, with nine national championships. After
Bohl left Nebraska, his alma mater, and his mentor, Tom Osborne, in 2002, he
took over the Bison program for its final season in NCAA Division II. He has
been the Bison's only coach on the FCS level, nine of his 10 teams have had
winning records and four have won at least 10 games.
Bohl credits the work of his assistant coaches. Perhaps they follow Bohl in
his belief of what's rewarding about coaching.
"When you can see a young man who comes into your program and you have a great
impact on developing character," Bohl said, "and he leaves as a man with a
college degree, hopefully learns a whole lot more about life and along the way
wins some football games."
The Sports Network