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Think Big: Alumni coaches are two former greats
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Updated: Tuesday 04/17/2012 10:51:43 (ET)
by Ryan Powell, UND Media Relations
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. – If former North Dakota halfback turned alumni coach Dave Osborn has any say about his White team’s game plan, running backs Jake Miller (Bismarck, N.D.) and P.J. Sparks (Phoenix, Ariz.) better be ready to tote the rock a lot on Saturday afternoon at the Alerus Center. Osborn will be opposed by a defensive-minded alumni coach as Dan Martinsen will roam the sidelines for the Green team.

Osborn, whose No. 41 is the only retired number in program history, is excited for the chance to be on the sideline again as UND’s annual Green and White Game is slated for a 3 p.m. start. Osborn’s coaching philosophy is simple, “I was always more of a run guy. I was one of the guys who liked to strap it up and say three yards and a cloud of dust. Run first. Pass second. We only passed when we had to pass on long yardage situations.”

The head coach for the White team, current offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach, will have to take that into account, but even if there are a few more passes than he is accustomed to seeing, Osborn is certainly excited for the opportunity to come back to Grand Forks.

“It’s going to be fun. I guess it’s been 48 years since I’ve played in a Spring game,” Osborn said. “It will be fun to be in the Alerus Center and watch a game in there. I have never seen a game there and just being an honorary coach is an honor. I’m looking forward to it.”

Osborn played two seasons for the Sioux and earned All-North Central Conference honors as a senior in 1964 as the squad finished with a 8-1 overall record and a share of the NCC title. He would go onto play 12 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, including earning a 1970 Pro Bowl selection.

Both alums are members of the UND Athletics Hall of Fame as Osborn was inducted in 1977, while Martinsen punched his ticket in 1986. The similarities don’t stop there as Martinsen was also part of a NCC Championship his senior season as the 1971 team went 6-3-1 and finished 5-2 in league play. And like Osborn, he is also excited for the chance to come back to his old roots.

“It’ll be a lot of fun for me. It’ll be a chance to catch up with some old friends and visit with some family as well,” Martinsen said. “I have stayed in pretty close contact with the football program. I like the atmosphere around the program and it looks like they are making great progress.”

Martinsen, who was an All-American in 1970 as a defensive back for the Sioux, is going to leave it up to his head coach Mike Mannausau to formulate his team’s game plan, saying he has no idea about what kind of philosophy he would implore.

“I am sure I’ll get some help from the other coaches,” he added. “I’m sure they want to work on certain things. They know the players and I don’t, so I’ll take their advice.”

One area for certain the two former Sioux greats will have their opinions count is as judges for the second annual North Dakota Tailgate Sioux-per Party. “I like eating and I like ribs, so I’ll be a good judge,” Osborn said.

Osborn and Martinsen will not be the only judges having their appetites fed on Saturday. Fan judging for the People’s Choice Awards will start at Noon as a more than a dozen area food vendors will be in the Alerus Center parking lot providing free samples.

 – Go UND –

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