FRISCO, TX (KELO) — The South Dakota State University Jackrabbits have secured their first ever FCS title, and Sunday before the game it was a sea of blue in the SDSU tailgate area as thousands of Jackrabbits fans geared up for the national championship.
SDSU president Barry Dunn was one of them.
“I think it’s one of the greatest days in Jackrabbit history. I just couldn’t be prouder of this great crowd but also our tremendous team,” he said.
Dunn says it’s exciting and humbling to see all the fans there.
“We’ve just unleashed the power of Jackrabbit nation. It’s really great,” he said.
Paul Syler from Milbank took part in the tailgating.
“It feels like rebirth. Feels like getting married all again and having the real deal. I mean, it’s as good as it gets. I mean, I’d probably ditch most of my family to have an opportunity to do this, honestly,” Syler said.
The yellow and blue man Caleb Nowicki is a 2016 SDSU graduate and says being here is a big deal for him.
“To be able to come down here and watch the championship. I had to make everything make sure to happen to be here. I had to be here for today,” he said.
It was also a big day for the Qual siblings and tailgating friend Taylor Thurston. They had a dream in mind that came true.
“Bringing home a Jackrabbit win,” Case Qual said.
“Hopefully bringing home a Jackrabbit win. My parents both graduated from there, so we’ve just grown up Jackrabbits,” Hailey Qual said.
Former SDSU football quarterback Ryan Berry played on the team from 2004-2008 and was part of the transition to Division I.
“Just to see what this place has turned into in the last ten years has been unbelievable to watch and really fun to be a part of. And clearly with all the people and support here, it’s just really a special thing for the entire university. To be a former player, to know that we were part of kind of the beginning of it was pretty cool,” Berry said.
Senator John Thune also made the trip down for the game with former South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard.
“It’s great to be here. This is an exciting day for South Dakota. This team has earned everything they’ve got this year. They’re incredibly hardworking. They play as a team. They’re hard-nosed and tough. Excited to be here and see them bring that title back to South Dakota,” Thune said.
“Very exciting. It’s a great day for South Dakota. I just got a text from former governor, North Dakota governor Dalrymple. We’ve got a bet going on this game, and the last time we bet I won, and I’m planning to do that again,” Daugaard said.