At the 2010 Big Ten Tournament, I made a joke about how much I wanted to punch the University of Minnesota mascot, Goldy in the head. I’d love to watch his trademark head swivel around, except in this case put into motion by the force of a right-handed uppercut.
Three days before the 2011 BTT, a fan did just that. So when I saw Goldy Gopher again in Indy, I gave him a hug and told him “I feel your pain.” Because both the college football and the college basketball program have been dealt swift punches to the head this past year.
No more reason to inflict additional pain- they have plenty enough in Dinkytown already. Before being fired, Tim Brewster wrecked the program. And the hoops team saw their promising season crushed into bits by the season ending injury to point guard Al Nolen.
Will things get better on the East Bank of the Mighty Mississippi this school year?
By Paul M. Banks
2010 was: about as awful as the sales of Prince’s post “Diamonds & Pearls” albums. Maybe they should have suited up the Purple one at a skill position- he looks like he has some speed. And Minnesota’s backs/receivers seriously need to “purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.”
Last year got off to a terrible start at conference media day when Brewster devoted half of his opening statement to kissing Larry Fitzgerald’s ass. Seriously, go watch the video he mentions Fitzgerald’s name at least a dozen times, and that’s exceedingly funny when you remember that the MPS native went to Pittsburgh, not Minnesota!
Brewster left the cupbaord pretty bare for his successor Jerry Kill, a great hire from Northern Illinois University.
BMOCs: Marqueis Gray, it’s all his team now. No more switching between WR and QB. Adam Weber, who somehow broke numerous school passing records despite not actually being good at football, is now gone. Gopher fans should consider this an upgrade, if not for the fact that they actually lose one of the team’s best receivers in Gray. Worthy trade-off?
Da’Jon McKnight is the only legitimate receiver Gray has to throw to. Tailbacks Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge will try to restart the Gopher ground game. The defense is just about as uninspiring and pedestrian as the offense, but DT Brandon Kirksey is a solid player, and they have a good duo at linebacker.
2011 will be fruitful if: The defensive line improves. In a league where half the DLs are very good, and the other half are solid, the Gophs were terrible at this spot. The D was only able to register 9 sacks in all of 2010 (dead last in FBS). Still UM found something the last two weeks of the season pulling out big upsets at Illinois and over Iowa. They were 1-9 on the season entering that stretch, so those wins were the very definitions of “putting lipstick on a pig.” Can they carry that momentum over?
2011 will be awful if: The Gophers fail to live up to their namsake, creatures that make their living on the ground. What happened to that great recent tradition of Gopher runners? (Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney, Chris Darkins, Thomas Hamner, Thomas Tapeh etc. etc.) UM was 10th in conference, 86th in the nation in rushing. But at least they were a “balanced team” as they were also 10th in scoring and total offense as well. The more they resemble last year’s team, the more the faithful will look forward to “Tubby Time.” Minnesota was 98th in the nation in run defense and scoring defense too. Good times.
Bottom Line: Maybe another 3-9, but 4-8 with one conference could happen. Brendan Beal, a MLB transfer from Florida should help improve the LBs, but when your best DB is a guy who almost quit the team over being moved from WR to CB (Troy Stoudemire) you have serious problems in pass defense. But hey, at least Incubus shot that really cool music video in your chic postmodern student center across the street from the stadium!
Love the M.C. Escher homage at the beginning.Follow paulmbanks