Gopher fans, it’s the time of the year you’ve all been waiting for! It’s not on the calendar, but magically it comes around every year at almost the exact same time. It’s the time the Gophers hopes are officially dashed when they start to play teams ranked in the top 25! Exciting as this is for the Big Ten and Gophers opponents, it is disheartening to those involved in the program, as well as those of us covering it. So let this be a forewarning to anyone that cares about the Gophers; Penn State and Ohio State are going to eat you alive.
Speaking of eating, the Gophers came out and did some feasting of their own, devouring a terrible Purdue team, who’s defensive line surrendered 207 yards rushing in their 35-20 defeat Saturday. Minnesota also managed to shove a Joey Elliott pass, a fumble on a kickoff, and a blocked field goal into their already stuffed bellies. The blocked field goal as well as the kickoff fumble, both came in a disastrous third quarter for the Boilermakers, who also featured a seven yard punt in the frame. The worst team in the Big Ten showed their colors, and the Gophers took care of business.
I also had a chance to do some eating that day, complimentary halftime food from the U in my cozy press box seat. Once I had the food and Purdue began to hand the game to Minnesota on a silver platter in the third, I quickly lost interest. Phil Wise, who played nine years in the NFL with the Jets and later the Vikings, struck up a conversation with me about meeting Willie Mays back in Wise’s playing days.
“Very nice guy,” he said. “Then later I met Bob Gibson.”
Talk about name dropping, I almost dropped my bagel when Wise said those two.
The game wound down with Purdue ending a late comeback attempt, driving down two scores with five minutes left, by turning it over on downs. The clock hit zeros as the Gophers picked up another non-descript victory putting them at 4-2, 2-1 in the Big Ten.
I rose from my seat and took the elevator down to the press conference. The first man I saw was Sid Hartman, located front and center as usual. Sid is 90 years old and a local icon. He still covers Minnesota sports 64 years after his first article, he knows nearly everyone that’s anyone in the sports world.
I took a seat in the back row, too focused on Mike Max, another big shot sports guy around the area, having to yell to get Sid’s attention to tell him the post-conference plan.
“Where’s Gate F?!” Sid yelled back.
Bright eyed, bushy tailed, wet-behind-the-ears me was just happy to be there, but others had seen this act before. A few reporters on my left chuckled about the commotion. I looked over and one was Eric Perkins, a KARE 11 sports anchor, who is famous for his “Perk at Play” segments.
>After a few seconds, Perkins said to the reporter in front of him; “I could really go for some pizza.”
“Yeah, just a nice big slice?” the man replied.
“Yeah, you know what they need, a place like Chipotle, except for pizza,” Perkins said. “Are there any places like that?”
“Sbarro, but that’s about it,” said the man.
“Yeah,” said Perkins sounding skeptical. “I just want a really good slice though, why can’t anybody do that? I really could use one right now.”
Having heard that conversation, I could barely hold it together. This is like my college dorm room. People talking about completely meaningless things while others scream at each other to figure out plans for the night. There’s no difference between these guys and twenty year old kids like myself. It almost seems like just another day around my place.
Thankfully, before I burst out laughing taking this all in and looking at the insanity surrounding me, Tim Brewster came out and calmed the masses.
He was extremely happy with the effort and said the team was hungry to win this game because it was homecoming and because they wanted to win it for senior Jeff Tow-Arnett (out for season, broken leg).
It got me wondering, were the Gophers more hungry than Eric Perkins is at this moment?
Trying to compare the two is hard, but that man was really hungry.