Aaron Best on Eastern competing for championship: “We’re not just okay to be here”

Aaron Best on Eastern competing for championship: “We’re not just okay to be here”
Eastern players and head coach Aaron Best speak to media one day before the 2019 NCAA Division I Football Championship

It may be the first time playing in the NCAA Division I Football Championship, but Aaron Best doesn’t think that’s a disadvantage.

Sometimes not having your foot in the water is an advantage. When you go to the lake and everybody wants you to jump in, and the person that kind of feels gets scared of the water. Then there’s always some person in that party that just jumps in and it’s kind of refreshing, because then it’s okay to just go do it.

The DNA hasn’t changed, won’t change. We’ll be loose. We’re not going to change our stripes at this point. We’re who we are facing a team that’s been here before.

So one would look at it as an advantage for them, and I don’t necessarily agree with that.

In terms of what this trip means to him and the players, it’s not longer about the excitement and awe of being in Frisco.

We’re not okay to be here. And that to be no matter who the opponent is, as good as North Dakota State has been over the last decade, we’re not just okay to be here.

This is not a business trip. This is not a vacation. This is a game against North Dakota State, the number one team in the nation, and we’re not okay to be here. We will give them their best shot. They will give us our best shot. And again this is the fourth champion we’ll play in the playoffs.

So I don’t know about any other teams, but this is the fourth conference champion we’ll play. And you have to beat the best to be the best. That’s the way we want it in sports. That’s why sports are so special.

Bison quarterback Easton Stick is tied for the FCS’s winningest quarterback. Two of them have come against Eastern, but he says they look different this year.

Personnel, there’s some differences, obviously, on both sides of the ball.

Schematically, I think again on both sides of the ball there’s some similarities. But it’s definitely a different team. I think they’re better on defense than they were a year ago. They’re more physical. And have more experience, I think, especially at the corner position. They’ve got three really good players. Rotate a bunch of guys at the defensive line at all spots.

So I think the depth is really good. They’ve got good schemes and do a good job of fooling people. And so we’re going to have to play hard and execute and hopefully that gives us a good chance.

North Dakota State fans are expected to outnumber Eastern fans come game time, and the Eagle players were asked about whether they already feel like this is a “road game.’

SPENCER BLACKBURN: I would kind of agree with that. I mean yes and no. They have to travel as well. They have to go through the same hoops as we have to go through to get here and play in a game that’s not actually at your own stadium. I would say it’s a home game atmosphere for them but it’s not necessarily a home game as well.

ERIC BARRIERE: Yes, because we know they’ve been here, done that. We know the Bison fans travel a lot. And we just gotta go out there and play our game because at the end of the day it’s going to be an away game in a way. But it’s just a football game, so we’ve just got to go out there and play.

Kickoff is Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Pacific, and the NDSU Bison are favored by 14 points, looking for their seventh National Title in eight years, while Eastern looks for their second in program history.