Tag Archives: Minnesota Gophers

Minnesota Football Coach Tim Brewster is FIRED UP!

Hey Coach Brewster, the Hlog just gave you a free plug

Hey Coach Brewster, the Hlog just gave you a free plug

First and foremost, the Hlog got wind of Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster’s Twitter feed and Web site from our friends at http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com

Now, those gentlemen occasionally work a bit blue and once in a great while step over the line with a toe or two. OK, they do so every day, with all 10 toes in a synchronized stomp on what some prudes commonly call “good taste.” Continue reading

After Horror of 55-0 Loss to Iowa, Gophers Abandon Metrodome Altogether

Gophers dont dig the Dome anymore

Gophers don't dig the Dome anymore

 

Last November, the University of Minnesota’s Metrodome farewell was a full-fledged disaster. Iowa savaged the Gophers, 55-0.

Minnesota was still scheduled to play its 2009 spring game in the Dome before it moved into its new on-campus stadium this fall. But Gophers Coach Tim Brewster has reportedly said he will never step foot in the Dome again after the horrific Dome-ination his team endured in its finale there.

So on April 25, Minnesota will conclude its spring practice season in St. Paul with a free spring game at the University of St. Thomas.

Now, it’s possible Brewster simply wanted his team to get used to the notion of playing outdoors in Minnesota. But I like the version I heard this morning at the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis a lot better. Which is, no more Dome for Brewster.

But it’ll still be there, Coach. You can’t miss it anytime you drive past downtown Minneapolis on the freeway. Don’t close your eyes when you’re driving past it. It’s simply not safe.

Big Ten Football 2009: Cupcakes Galore

With the confirmation Wednesday that Illinois will close its season with a game at Cincinnati, all the Big Ten football schedules are set for 2009.

First off, while Illini fans sound irritated that their team will play Fresno State at home and Cincinnati on the road — both capable squads – after the Big Ten season is over, at least they’re real opponents.

Good for the Illini. It may mean another 5-7 season or, worse, a trip to the Motor City Bowl at 6-6. But it at least shows some willingness to play competition.

Either that, or Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther failed miserably at finding a patsy to squeeze into his schedule. I hope it’s that deal about wanting to play someone.

If only every Big Ten AD and coach had the same attitude. Hey, the Big Ten isn’t winning BCS titles anyhow and flops miserably every time it sends Ohio State to slaughter in the championship game. So why not make the regular-season more meaningful with actual ballgames?

Only 14 of the 44 nonconference games in ’09 are against BCS conference teams or Notre Dame. That’s ridiculous.

Are you the Big Ten or just the Ten? Actually, you’re the Eleven, but that horse has been beaten to death.

Only three league teams — Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota — are playing two BCS conference teams among their four non-league games. Wisconsin isn’t playing any.

Before noting the cupcakes, let’s give some kudos to the proud and the few who are at least playing interesting games.

Ohio State gets the return date on its home-and-home series with USC.

Purdue heads to Oregon after hosting the Ducks last fall.

Indiana filled out its schedule by taking a game at Virginia, thus becoming the only Big Ten team to play two of its nonconference games on the road.

Cal is playing at Minnesota and Arizona is at Iowa, so those are 2008 bowl teams from the Pac-10 coming into Big Ten lairs.

But by and large, Big Ten non-league slates are another big pile of bleccccch.

Nine games are against FCS (I-AA) opposition. Purdue and Ohio State are the only Big Ten teams not devouring FCS prey. A few are among the cream of the FCS crop, like Northern Iowa and Wofford. But …

Delaware State (5-6 last year) at Michigan?

Towson (3-9) at Northwestern?

Eastern Illinois (5-7) at Penn State?

Penn State is playing all four of its nonconference games at home, against Akron, Syracuse, Temple and mighty Eastern Illinois. That’s absurd. Are you a football power or not? If you are, act like one and schedule somebody.

Playing two Mid-American Conference teams, an FCS squad and Syracuse, the Least of the Big East, is great for wins. It won’t work too well in those BCS computers, though.

Ranking the non-league schedules by toughness is difficult, because most are lousy. But here goes:

1. Illinois: Vs. Missouri in St. Louis, Illinois State, Fresno State, at Cincinnati (The series with Mizzou is a good one, and Cincinnati is fresh off an Orange Bowl appearance.)

2. Minnesota: at Syracuse, Air Force, California, South Dakota State (Air Force and Cal went to bowls, Syracuse is on the road, and S.D. State is one of the better FCS teams a Big Ten team is playing.)

3.  Purdue: Toledo, at Oregon, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame. (Toledo was lousy in ’08, but the other three went to bowls and Oregon won 10 games.)

4. Wisconsin: Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford, at Hawaii (The three FBS teams went to bowls, and Wofford won nine games and played South Carolina to a 10-point game.)

5. Ohio State: Navy, USC, vs. Toledo in Cleveland, New Mexico State (The USC game goes a long way here, obviously.)

6. Michigan State: Montana State, Central Michigan, at Notre Dame, Western Michigan. (Doesn’t look like much, but the three FBS teams went to bowls, the two MAC teams are in-state clubs that will be motivated, going to South Bend is no picnic, and Montana State was 7-5)

7. Iowa: Northern Iowa, at Iowa State, Arizona, Arkansas State. (UNI’s a terrific FCS team, and Arizona’s legit. If Iowa State were just a little stronger …)

Now it gets bad.

8. Indiana: Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, at Akron, at Virginia. (Western Michigan is a good program. Playing on the road twice should count for something, though all it really means is Indiana is a Big Ten football program without much clout.)

9. Michigan: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Delaware State. (Four home games. Not a Top 25 team in the bunch. This isn’t the Michigan scheduling we’ve known for the last half-century. Bo Schembechler would never have scheduled Delaware State.)

10. Northwestern: Miami (Ohio), Towson, at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan. (Not a good opponent in the foursome. Only playing Syracuse on the road keeps the ‘Cats from being ranked below … )

11. Penn State: Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Eastern Illinois. (What, Slippery Rock, Swarthmore, Susquehanna, and Scranton/Dundler-Miffin weren’t available?)

We’re Live Blogging Tonight From the Minnesota-Iowa Basketball Game

Gazetteonline.com, with yours truly as part of the crew, will be hosting a live blog from the Minnesota-Iowa men’s basketball game tonight.

Log in and discuss your thoughts on the game, the broadcast of the game, or anything else on your mind, like a certain football game that will start as the basketball game is winding down.

Tell your friends, wake the neighbors, yank the kids away from the dinner table. You need this.

The game’s at 6:03 p.m., give or take 12 seconds. We’ll be logged on around 5:45.  Aloha.

The link: http://tinyurl.com/6ho3rj/2.

Is it the Outback, Jack?/My AP Top 25 ballot for Nov. 30

That’s my best guess, it’s a darn good guess, and I’m sticking to it until someone persuasively convinces me otherwise.

With Oregon State rolling over like dogs instead of Beavers in their game against Oregon Saturday night, that ought to put Ohio State in the BCS (sorry, Boise State), and lift up every other bowl-eligible Big Ten team.

You know what that means, Insight Bowl. You get Minnesota!!!

So, it’s Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, right? As Lee Corso says, not so friends, my fast. Or something like that.

Are the 9-3 Spartans a slam-dunk for the Orlando event? Not necessarily. But if Georgia is the SEC team, ticket sales ought not to be a problem. It’s a relatively short trip from the Peach State to Theme Park Hell. Plus, Michigan State fans travel well, as they say, and it will be MSU’s first New Year’s bowl in eight years.

That leaves 8-4 Iowa or 9-3 Northwestern for the Outback Bowl, and I can’t see the Outbackers passing up on Iowa and all its box office/hotel room power.

The unfortunate part for the Hawkeyes is the opponent in the Outback won’t be a ranked team. It almost surely would be either 7-5 LSU or 7-5 South Carolina. Now you know how Texas felt two years ago when it got a 6-6 Iowa team to play in the Alamo Bowl.

Iowa isn’t ranked, but should be. As you’ll see in the list below, I have the Hawkeyes 20th. I think Iowa is the most underrated team in the nation. As a result, I’d like to see Iowa get a less-glamorous bowl if it meant a better opponent. Namely, the Alamo.

However, if Missouri gets clocked by Oklahoma in Saturday’s Big 12 title game to end the regular-season with a 9-4 record and 2-game losing streak, never mind. It would be funny to see Iowa and Missouri together in Texas, though. The over/under on fights ending with drunks shoved into the canal on the San Antonio Riverwalk would be 147.

But if Iowa can’t play, say, an Oklahoma State in San Antone, just go to the Outback and play some SEC non-entity. Then the Alamo Bowl can decide between 9-3 Northwestern and 7-5 Wisconsin, with the team left over going to the Champs Sports Bowl to play some ACC also-ran.

It will all be better than that Minnesota-Kansas Insight Bowl.

And now, my AP Top 25 ballot for this week:

1. Alabama

2. Oklahoma

3. Florida

4. Texas

5. Utah

6. Penn State

7. Southern California

8. Texas Tech

9. Ohio State

10. Boise State

11. TCU

12. Ball State

13. Oklahoma State

14. Cincinnati

15. Oregon

16. BYU

17. Missouri

18. Pittsburgh

19. Georgia Tech

20. Iowa

21. Michigan State

22. Mississippi

23. Georgia

24. Northwestern

25. Oregon State

So Long, Humpty Dumpty Dome

Saturday could be the last time inside the Metrodome for many of us, including myself. Allow me to wallow in some auld lyne sang.

I’ve covered most of the Iowa-Minnesota football games in the Humpty Dumpty Dome. Some were unforgettable. Others, easily forgotten.

But I’ve also covered really big-time stuff there, like the 1987 and 1991 World Series (both won by the Twins), the 1992 and 2001 Final Fours (both won by Duke), a Super Bowl, and a few NFL regular-season games that were of little consequence.

The only time in my life that I’ve had an anxiety attack (that I know of) came the Tuesday morning of that Super Bowl week, a couple hours from Media Day. It had nothing to do with Media Day or the Super Bowl, and the rest of the week went fine other than me pulling a muscle in my side from sneezing.

Super Bowls aren’t meant to be played in Minneapolis, especially when the opponents are Washington and Buffalo. I stayed in a Motel 6 in Bloomington, and Buffalo Bills fans started pouring into the place on Friday. They seemed nice. They left sad. I felt bad for them.

The World Series were wonderful. Both went to the seventh game. Both saw the home team win every game. The ’87 Series was great fun for a young me to cover because I caught all seven games, going back and forth from Minnesota to St. Louis and back. But I missed a U2 concert in Iowa City because of it, something that a younger person has a harder time accepting than a man of my current maturity and poise.

Besides, I saw U2 a few years later and wasn’t all that wowed. It was their “Zooropa” phase. Very hip. Very dull.

The ’91 World Series between the Twins and Atlanta Braves ranks as one of the best series ever, and one of the five best sporting events I’ve ever attended.

Games 6 and 7 in the Dome were two of the loudest, most exciting things I’ve ever witnessed in person. The Kirby Puckett catch and then his game-winning homer in the 11-inning Game 6, the Jack Morris 10-inning shutout in the Twins’ 1-0 Game 7 win … superb.

The Final Fours left me cold, and not just because Duke won both nine years apart. Basketball under the Teflon roof just doesn’t get it done.

Oh, I also covered an NBA game in the Metrodome between the world champion Detroit Pistons and the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons won, obviously, and Dennis Rodman wasn’t even in full-weirdo mode. I remember singer Sheila E., a Prince protegee, being introduced to Isiah Thomas in a Dome hallway afterward. Isiah struck me as trying to be a little too charming, but Prince’s women didn’t stray. Not back then when he ruled the world, anyhow.

Sheila E., who looked nothing like this when I saw her

Sheila E., who looked nothing like this when I saw her

That Super Bowl in the Dome was in 1993. I remember Super Bowls by halftime entertainers. That one had Gloria Estefan, which seems bizarre to this day. Gloria Estefan is Miami, not Minnesota. But she was safe.

But Minneapolis’ Prince was too out there for the NFL in 1993. He didn’t perform at a Super Bowl until 2007, when he was considered “safe.”

The Metrodome has always seemed odd. Most of the time, a few hours after Iowa-Minnesota games played in the afternoon, the field would be used for small-college games. About the only people in the stadium would be the teams, their parents, and the remaining sportswriters in the press box who were writing about a game 60,000 fans had seen instead of the 60 in the Dome stands at that moment.

To my knowledge, the sun has never shined in the Twin Cities in late November on the day of a Hawkeyes-Gophers game at the Dome. It’s always gray and raw up there. But no matter how cold it is outside, there is always a line of people waiting to get into Hubert’s bar across the street from the Dome so they can drink cold beer.

Tailgating at the Metrodome has never been adequate, unless you’re an afficionado of parking ramps.

In two years, Iowa will play Minnesota in the Gophers’ new campus stadium. It won’t be the same. It will probably be a lot better, actually.

The Hlist: President-elect Obama, Please Don’t Let Nick Saban Get Nuclear Capability

 

Opening kickoff

“If we can come out and beat O-State that would clear everything up.”— Michigan senior safety Brandon Harrison about the 3-8 Wolverines’ upcoming game at Ohio State.

Everybody has a dream.

First downs

1. Cool Cats: The Big Ten’s Coach of the Year will probably be Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

The Wildcats are 8-3, and will go to a very good bowl with a home win Saturday over decaying Illinois.

In rain, sleet and snow, Northwestern gutted out a 21-14 win at Michigan. That was its first win in Ann Arbor since 1995, when Fitzgerald was the Wildcats’ star linebacker.

“All of a sudden you come out in the second half and it’s snowing,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a beautiful Big Ten football weather day.”

It wasn’t so lovely to Michigan fans. Most fled their stadium long before the game ended.

They didn’t want to see the Wolverines clinch their first eight-loss season in the program’s 129-year history.

Harrison, so optimistic in the “Opening Kickoff” comment, wasn’t as cheery about the game that had just ended.

“I’m sick to my stomach right now,” he said.

2. Empty Win: LSU’s Tiger Stadium also was emptied out in the fourth quarter of the Troy-LSU game. Those who stayed witnessed the biggest comeback in Tigers history.

LSU rallied from a 31-3 hole for a 40-31 triumph.

The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Randy Rosetta called it “a comeback that will survive as the stuff of legend for years to come in front of the sparse but hearty few thousand fans who stuck it out.”

LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee was booed and benched in the first half. For the seventh time this year, he had an interception returned for a touchdown. But he completed 11 fourth-quarter passes and last year’s national champs awakened in time to avoid an embarrassment.

“Not one time in our minds did we think we were going to lose this game,” Lee said.

Which is more than you could say for LSU’s fans.

3. Band Goes Digital: At halftime of the USC-Stanford game, the ever-irreverent Stanford band formed the number “24,” on the field, referring to the Cardinal’s point total in its shocking 24-23 win at USC.

The band formed the letters “OJ” for its opening number, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy when he played at USC, you see. Forty years ago!

The Trojans won this time around, 45-23.

“There was a lot of talk about revenge coming into the game,” said Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh. “That’s a word I don’t use in college football.”

“It was revenge,” said USC tailback C.J. Gable.

Stanford, for some odd reason, lined up for a field goal on the game’s last play. USC Coach Pete Carroll, for some odd reason, called a timeout. Stanford changed its mind, and Alex Loukas threw an 18-yard touchdown pass.

“Loukas wanted to go for the end zone,” Harbaugh said. “So I said, ‘Let’s go for the end zone.’ . . . I just wanted to get the last points.”

Carroll’s reaction to Harbaugh’s decision-making: “He can do whatever he wants. I don’t care.”

“If Harbaugh stays at Stanford a while rather than going off to the NFL,” wrote Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, “this could turn into quite the snarky annual kickoff appointment.”

Fumbles

1. Axed: A not-so-funny thing happened to Minnesota (7-4) on its way to a New Year’s bowl. It lost to Northwestern and Michigan at home, then fell 35-32 at Wisconsin Saturday after holding a 21-7 halftime lead.

The Paul Bunyan Axe remains in Madison.

“We’re going to lay on a sword for the next couple days,” Gophers Coach Tim Brewster said. “We’re going to bleed this one out hard. This will be tough to let go.”

Iowa hopes he’s right. The Hawkeyes will try to extend Minnesota’s misery Saturday night in the Metrodome.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, will try to get to 7-5 by beating Cal Poly Saturday in Madison.

“I really don’t know how the bowl system works,” Badgers center John Moffitt said. “I feel like there’s three guys in a room and they flip a quarter. I’m trying to go every game, one game at a time — just try to win out.”

The Hlist questions why it takes three guys to flip quarters, but not as much as it wonders why Wisconsin is playing Cal Poly in mid-November.

2. Coldcocked: Florida’s 56-6 win over South Carolina was Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier’s worst loss in his 309 games as a head coach in college and pro football.

“A loss is a loss, whether it’s by one point or 50 points,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes getting your butt beat real good is better than a one-pointer or two-pointer.”

Sunday, Spurrier sounded more like an apologist than the brash Ol’ Ball Coach who directed Florida to six SEC titles and the 1996 national championship.

“We’re not the first team they’ve ever scored 50 on lately and may not be the last team. But we are 7-4,” he said.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi: “Seeing Spurrier coming back to The Swamp and getting clobbered was like watching an aging Sinatra returning to the Sands and forgetting the words to ‘My Way.’

“Urban Meyer came to Florida and wanted to be like Steve Spurrier.

“Now Steve Spurrier’s at South Carolina and wants to be like Urban Meyer.”

3. No, Prez, No!: We don’t need our presidents worrying about sports, unless Alabama Coach Nick Saban is close to nuclear capability. Even if he isn’t, he needs to be watched closely.

Anyway, Barack Obama really doesn’t need to pander to the masses by pushing for a college football playoff.

“I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this,” Obama said on “60 Minutes” Sunday. “So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

“Certainly it’s an important issue for college football and colleges,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. “Where does it stand in the list of challenges we have in America today? I would say it’s not very high.”

If only the Big Ten Network’s ghastly “Friday Night Tailgate” used that kind of common sense.

“I look forward to talking with (Obama) and explaining to him that it’s not in the best interest of the academic integrity of our institutions,” Ohio State Chancellor Gordon Gee said.

The Hlist thinks that would be useful.

Because in these challenging times, our new president will need all the laughs he can get.

Final gun

“If 35-7 against Kansas on the road isn’t good enough for someone, we’ll just go wherever they tell us to go.” — Texas Coach Mack Brown on a suggestion the Longhorns’ latest win might not have wowed pollsters.