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Better With, or Without?
When the tornado sirens are sounding, get to the basement of the library
Mike Sigers was a speeding missile for the North Dakota State football team during last season’s memorable playoff run. This week, that speeding missile crashed with a resounding thud as Sigers was dismissed from the Bison for failing to meet academic standards.
This begs the question: is the dismissal of a player with Sigers’ ability a good or bad thing for a team that came one snap away from making the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) semifinals? Phrased another away, are the Bison better off with, or without, Sigers.
Sigers’ dismissal is a good thing for the Bison. This isn’t to say he’s a bad person, just selfish, like many others in the self-entitled Facebook generation.
If Sigers was committed to the NDSU football program, he’d still be a Bison. Playing football is a privilege, not a right. Sigers had ample opportunity to improve his grades and academic standing. He didn’t. He had all the advantages of the excellent academic programs available to our student athletes – but to no avail. Had Sigers used those programs effectively, he’d still be a Bison. The fact that he won’t be wearing the green and yellow this fall is all the more disappointing because his potential was sky-high.
Sigers, along with several other underclassman, helped the Bison close a “speed gap” that hamstrung NDSU in its first two seasons of play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
In two playoff wins against Robert Morris and Montana State, the dynamic redshirt freshman from Houston, Tex. piled up 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those performances were only a flash of things to come.
In a gut-wrenching quarterfinal loss at Eastern Washington, he turned in the most dominating special team performance by a Bison in recent memory. The elusive back blocked two field goals and returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to keep the Bison within striking distance before ultimately falling to EWU in overtime. Sigers finished the year with four blocked kicks and was second on the team with 830 total yards.
So how in the name of the Fargodome are we better off without a talent like Sigers? We are better off because he put himself above his teammates, coaches, and their commitment to winning a national title. The single greatest reason last year’s team was able to rebound from the disastrous 3 – 8 campaign in 2009 wasn’t a quantified variable on the stat sheet. But it was a part of every number on the stat sheet – the 3 C’s: commitment, camaraderie, and character.
Think last year’s senior class, guys like Gratzek, Vandal, Smith, Lemon and Arndt. The focus wasn’t on the individual, it was all about the team. NDSU head coach Craig Bohl repeated a familiar mantra at many postgame press conferences last year: that the leadership and focus provided by these guys was the driving force behind the team’s success. Integrity matters. Just ask the Ohio State and Southern California football teams.
I hope Sigers can rebound from this, receive a college education, and also take advantage of his rare football skills. But if he wants to keep playing college football, it won’t be for the Bison. Sigers failed to meet his end of the bargain. It’s that simple. The tornado sirens were sounding and he had ample time and opportunity to seek shelter in the basement of the library with his books. Instead, he tempted the storm.
By Josh Swanson, Bison Illustrated