While the Ferris State Bulldog’s football team was subdued handily by North Dakota State in Fargo, the game itself was not a loss.
The win-loss column shows the Bulldogs are indeed 0-1 and the score sheet shows a 56-10 drubbing at the hands of the two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State Bison.
While Head Coach Tony Annese knew what they were in for in terms of the final score, he felt the game itself provided teachable moments and tangible benefits.
“I’m glad we played. The experience of getting on an airplane together and what we did together strengthened our team,” Annese said. “Regardless of what the outcome was, we think we learned a lot about ourselves and that the experience was very valuable, and I feel the same way.”
The Bulldogs received $180,000 to play the game from North Dakota State, but the money may not have enticed Annese and the Athletic Department as much as the experience itself did.
“We came out a little early and saw the banner being raised,” Annese said. “We learned a little bit about how champions act, they played a clean hard nosed game.”
“I had colleagues in Division I come out and tell me, ‘Just don’t play!’” Annese said.
The Bulldogs felt despite what they walked away with, in terms of the scoreboard, the banner raising that may not seem as important to some coaches, became a symbol of what they wanted to become.
“If they had a vision of what it looks like to be a National Champion and then the players internalize that vision, that’s when greatness can occur,” Annese said.
Many would agree Big Rapids isn’t the biggest football town in Michigan, especially with Hockey being Division I. Annese responded boldly to players who want more support.
“I want to get this campus turned upside down a little bit on how they perceive football,” Annese said. “We’re the ones that have to sell it, you can go out and complain about a lack of support. To sell it, it has to be worth watching.”