Homecoming at the U: Boilermakers at Gophers

Both Big Ten teams looking for first conference win.

All that promise at the start of the season seems to amount to nothing. The Gophers are going into the homecoming game against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium after three consecutive losses to Big Ten opponents. It was pretty hard watching them play in Camp Randall.

The defense did not live up to expectations and the Wisconsin running backs embarrassed them by the number of times they were in the end zone without much difficulty.

The question of starting QB Philip Nelson?

This season is pretty much all and done with for the Gophers with the only hope hanging in the balance being a meaningless bowl game. Was it the right thing to use Nelson instead of red-shirting him?

He had a great game throwing for a 150 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Kill is definitely looking at prepping the Gophers for next season. MarQueis Gray is really a wide receiver prospect in the NFL and going forward this is the position he will play for the Gophers in the hope of an NFL contract.

Looking forward to tailgates next season

It’s been tough being a Minnesota football fan. The Gophers still have a chance to salvage this season and their pride by getting a much needed victory against the Boilermakers (who are pretty much on the same boat) at home.

I was hoping that the 2012 Golden Gopher Football Banquet will celebrate progress that the football program desperately needs, but if the Gophers don't turn their fortunes around we could be in for a familiar sight at the annual banquet.

Gophers start 4-0

The Gophers have a big game against the Hawkeyes on Saturday.

It seems like the Gophers might have turned around finally in Coach Jerry Kill's second year. The Gophers go into their Big Ten season opener against the Hawkeyes with an undefeated record in non-conference play. There were some impressive wins against UNLV in an away game and a 17-10 victory over Syracuse at TCF Bank Stadium. They have been led by QB Max Shortell in the absence of MarQueis Gray who is one of the best athletes in the Big Ten and is sidelined with an ankle injury.

If he could return soon, it would boost the Gopher’s chances big time. The Gophers have prevailed without him and it goes to show what would happen when such a big play maker returns to the team.

The Gophers will have to look to convert a lot more on third-down and not have turnovers in order to come away with a win in Iowa City. Protecting the pig will not be easy as fullback Mark Weisman and the Iowa offense will need to be stopped on the ground by the likes of 6-6 Ra'Shede Hageman and the 6-5 Cameron Botticelli.

The Gophers should look to seize the moment this season and try to finish well. A good record is essential for Minnesota to attract top recruits which is really what the football program needs at the end of the day to regain its long lost dominant position.

There is a possibility that the Gophers may finish 7-5 with chances for victories against Northwestern and Purdue at home. The Big Ten is weaker this year with Ohio State not as great as before and Penn State going down because it is scandal ridden. The Gophers need to capitalize.

How the U got the Golden Gopher nickname

It is actually a very interesting story in itself

Most of the current Gopher students may not know that the Gophers were once football powerhouses. At least those Gopher students that aren’t football fans might not know this. But who am I to judge? A trip to TCF Bank Stadium will enlighten any uninformed Gopher fan that the University of Minnesota won many national championships. The problem is that it all happened before 1960.

The state of Minnesota was not always known as the Gopher State. It was actually once called the Beaver State. But a satirical cartoon that portrayed Minnesota politicians with gophers on their heads changed everything.

At that time, the University of Minnesota sports teams were known as just the ‘Gophers.’ But the all-gold uniforms that the teams used to wear made a popular broadcaster from the Twin Cities call them the ‘Golden Gophers.’ The success of the football team in the 1930s ensured that the U would get the Golden Gopher nickname.

During this period, the Golden Gophers won seven Big Ten titles and a few national titles too. The triumphs of the football team were looked upon as ‘golden.’ This is a far cry from the situation today, unfortunately. But with the construction of TCF Bank Stadium in 2009, it was hoped that the Gophers would turn things around and this may be likely.

If you aren't a University of Minnesota alum like me, you should be, provided that it was at this school that cheerleading first started. Go Gophers!

Four ex-Gophers hope to make the Minnesota Vikings this weekend

Da’Jon McKnight is among four former Gophers hoping to make the Vikings.

Having graduated from the U of Minnesota in ’11, I was able to catch the high flying Da’Jon McKnight in action on many a college game and was extremely pleased to watch him perform even though the Gophers mostly ended up on the losing side.

The 6 foot 3 inch 211 pound wide receiver had 1,465 yards and 97 catches in his two seasons with the Gophers, but he still faces an uncertain future as he reports for camp to try and be one of the receivers to make the Minnesota Vikings. The other players were the renowned Gopher Defensive Tackle Brandon Kirksey, Anthony Jacobs and Nick Tow-Arnett.

There were no University of Minnesota players drafted in the 2012 NFL draft, but running back Duane Bennett is in the NFL having made the Green Bay Packers as a free agent.

There are actually should have been another Gopher who should have made it for the tryouts and that is Kim Royston who is a very high-profile name. Kim Royston will have to miss the minicamp because of an injury.

The Gophers are very much excited by the chance to may be one day live the NFL lifestyle and be able provide for their families by making it. Gophers coach Jerry Kill has even talked about how there should be more Gophers who should get to play in the NFL.

He stated that Ra’Shede Hageman and Harold Legania are a great fit for the NFL when you look at their body sizes, but he wanted them to be more motivated and look to be able to get the job done.

More bad news for the U


As we are busy watching the Final Four, my mind goes back to when the Gophers made it to the Final Four back in 1997 only to have it removed by the NCAA due to academic issues. The University of Minnesota received more bad news this week when the Senate decided to offer only $39M for construction projects.

The U had initially requested approximately $170M from the State and it has not even received a quarter of it. This has been the general trend of the federal government cutting back on its education budgets and negatively impacting the U. President Eric Kaler appreciated the funds, but stated that there needs to be more money raised to meet the important requirements of the institution.

As great as the campus has been, it is not up to date and there is actually quite a backlog. The U has to keep up with the rest of the universities across the country, but many people in government feel that the university can reach into its pretty big endowment fund of about $2.5 billion to fund the construction projects and renovations that need to be done.

All this comes at a time when the Minnesota Colleges and Universities system got a big increase in funding with $127M given to the system. I guess this is justified since there are some 250,000 students in 31 universities in MnSCU, whereas the whole University of Minnesota system has just about 64,000 students.

I guess there will be challenging times ahead for the U and the Gopher sports programs as well. Many critics have been hard on Joel Maturi and even saying that he has reduced some of the programs to a Division III level.

Former Gophers helping out 2012 NCAA Tournament Teams

"For now, the Gophers will have to settle for the NIT which would be valuable experience for the freshman like the energetic Joe Coleman."

The Gophers have not been able to secure a bid to the Big Dance for the second consecutive season. They actually have had some very talented players who started their careers right here in Minneapolis, only to go away to different college teams because of a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at them.

Iowa State – Royce White

Mr. Basketball in Minnesota and also part of the 2009 Gopher recruiting class that made the top 25 according to Rivals.com. He now is with Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones who will play the number 9 seed UCONN on Thursday night. White had even been compared to Magic Johnson this season for his formidable play.

California – Justin Cobbs

Cobbs has been doing really well for the Golden Bears and the Gophers could have surely used the point guard this season and last time as well. Both Cobbs and Devoe Joseph who left to play for Oregon were aggressive guards and it shows in the large number of points they have been scoring for their respective teams. It could be argued that Cal may not get passed USF in their first round encounter, but Cobbs is definitely missed here in the Gopher state.


Colorado State – Colton Iverson

The big man who decided to leave is now on the bench for another NCAA tournament team. Due to NCAA transfer regulations, he will have to sit this season out and should play some big minutes next year.


To top it all off, the coach that we unceremoniously fired Dan Monson has once again got a mid-major team to the Big Dance and this time it is Long Beach State who will face off against New Mexico come Thursday afternoon.

For now, the Gophers will have to settle for the NIT which would be valuable experience for the freshman like the energetic Joe Coleman.

Why the Gopher?

I’m all about using animals as mascots, but gophers?

The one thing that really gets under my skin when it comes to pro-sports teams (aside from the general facts—you know, that they exist in the first place, that people make that much money playing a GAME, and that they help perpetuate the violence that we feed on as a nation) is when they use people as mascots. The Fighting Irish? The Indians, the Chiefs, the Braves? These are not only stupid—have you ever heard of the Goose Stepping Germans?—they are offensive, labeling a group of people as a “mascot,” which to me is another term for “pet.”

So I’m glad that the Gophers are not, for example, the Napping Mexicans or something as stupid and offensive as that. But out of all of the animals to choose as your mascot, they went for…the gopher. Really? A burrowing rodent who serves as the punch line in the Caddyshack films just doesn’t inspire team spirit to me—let alone winning.

Okay, I get that Minnesota is the Gopher State, which is fine and all—but if you’re choosing a mascot for your sports team, you don’t have to make it native to your state, let alone your state animal! The Missouri Tigers sure didn’t. Trust me; I’m from Missouri. There are no tigers here, unless you head over to the zoo. I guess the fact that the gophers are golden is more impressive, though I’ve seen plenty of golden animals—from hawks to retrievers—and they smell just like any other animals of their species. And then there’s the fact that Gopher wood was used in building Noah’s Ark, so I guess that’s sort of special (though if my wood was infested with gophers, I’d surely call a pest control service).

I wonder if Minnesotans like the nickname itself or if they would like a new name? It just makes me think of how the school in Easy A changed from the Blue Devils to the Woodchucks, which pretty much sank school spirit entirely and made pep rallies seem more like sad, weepy events rather than the spirited assemblies that they are intended to be. (This actually might not be a bad thing; I would much rather see, say, Drama Club or the Academic Team get better applause than the sports teams anyway.)

I kid the gophers and wish them the best of luck, of course! I am sure if I were born in Minnesota I’d consider the mascot an honor myself. My favorite team is a bird, for example; I am sure a gopher could take a cardinal on.