January 3, 2006
Coaches and other random thoughts
First of all let me say that I was happy that Zygi gave Tice the pink slip. It is time to put the Red McCombs years behind us and the best way to do that was to fire the Tice. McCombs only hired Tice, who had questionable head coaching credentials to begin with, because he could save some money. With the Wilfs now in charge, I think we are finally going to see some changes at Winter Park that make sense if the organization is really interested in winning a championship. And this may sound callous, but I hope all the assistant coaches under Tice get the pink slip too. Here is my list of who will probably be considered:
- Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Redskins. It sounds like he is the top pick amongst the players.
- Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator for the Bears. I've heard a lot of talk about this guy being given a chance somewhere in the NFL to be a head coach. We'll see if it is the Vikings.
- Ted Cotrell, defensive coordinator for the Vikes. Say it ain't so. I want to fully clean house.
- Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator for the Dolphins. Again, his credentials aren't quite there yet, but Daunte sure would be happy. I expect the Vikings will give Linehan a shot.
- For the rest of the possible choices, check out this post from Mr. Cheer or Die, plus the comments.
And concerning Tice, let me just say that I think he is a top notch guy. One of his best qualities is how gracious he is in defeat, and he showed this quality off again by praising the Wilf family after he was fired. I will remember Tice, the person, fondly.
I was also happy that the Gophers retained the services of Glen Mason. Letting Mason go would have meant rebuilding, again, for the Gophers. The Gophers cannot afford a "big name" coach to replace Mason, which would have meant hiring some kind of "no name." Retaining Mason means recruiting will continue (and Mason has done pretty well with this considering he has to recruit with the Metrodome), and it means continued respectability for Gopher football. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the Gophers will not win a Rose Bowl until they are playing on campus again. Mason is the right coach to bring them to this point.
In case you missed it, Sid reports that this week will include a big meeting between T-Paw, the Twins, and Hennepin County concerning the shape of the latest (and greatest!) new stadium plan:
A meeting next week to include Twins officials, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and maybe other commissioners will no doubt decide if the Hennepin County plan to build a new baseball park will be extended into next year or dropped.
At this point, it is apparent that nobody involved in the negotiations for the baseball stadium are convinced Pawlenty will stick his neck out in favor of building the stadium that not only will assure the Twins remain in the state, but result in million of dollars in labor contracts and building materials.
There is no assurance that the site in back of Target Center will be continue to be available if something constructive isn't done soon.
Count me in the group that doesn't believe Pawlenty will push to get this baseball stadium built.
Amen to that. There is no way that T-Paw sticks his neck out for this, not in a year when the Republicans will undoubtedly be fighting for their political lives. I'd like to think that Pawlenty will want to solve this problem, but right now he is in extreme politician mode as he tries to make everyone as happy as possible while really getting nothing accomplished. Meanwhile, stadiums get more and more expensive ...
Just finished my first book of the year, Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This was a fantastic and very well written book, but I couldn't help but think that I've read it before. It was very similar in feel to Minnesota author Jon Hassler's Staggerford and Grand Opening. In fact, another Russo book I've read, Straight Man, was eerily similar to Rookery Blues by Jon Hassler. So, I dug around a bit to find out if anyone else has these same feelings, and I find that Russo is a big fan of Hassler. What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. But if you've read any Russo and you enjoyed it, I encourage you to pick up Hassler's books, especially Grand Opening.
Now I'm reading Planets by Dava Sobel. Pretty good so far, but nothing can top her writing in Longitude, the story of a clockmaker's attempts to solve the biggest maritime problem in the age of discovery.
That's about it. See you soon!
October 15, 2005
Thank you Wisconsin
Thank you Wisconsin. For a second there, I forgot what it felt like to be a fan of Minnesota sports teams. Now I remember.
(Orginal picture from emarketingprop.com)
October 12, 2005
My visit with the Little Brown Jug
Yesterday I was determined to see the Little Brown Jug. Nothing would stand in my way. I intentionally did not go to see it on Monday because I knew it would be crowded and I wanted to take my time with it. So, at around 11:00 AM Tuesday I set out from my office for the Gopher Football Hall of Fame at the Gibson/Nagurski Football Practice Facility on the East Bank of the U of M. I thought it would still be on display.
I was wrong. When I got there people were setting up for Mason's weekly press conference and the HOF was filled with tables. Some people from Famous Dave's were also there setting up a table of food. I turned to the first person I saw and asked as calmly as I could, "Where is the Jug? Do you know where the Jug is?"
He answered, "Dude, I work for Famous Dave's. You'll have to ask someone else."
Man! I was ticked. I thought, "I should have come on Monday! Idiot!" So I stood there stewing a little bit.
Then I looked across the HOF and saw Pam Borton, the women's basketball coach, standing at the top of the stairs. I don't know why, but this prompted me to walk up the stairs. "Maybe Pam knows where the Jug is," I thought.
When I got to the top of the stairs she began talking with someone else, but I noticed I was at the doors to the football program's main offices. I could see some of the football team milling about through the glass doors and a student secretary sitting at the front desk. My determination knew no bounds! I walked into the offices and strode right to the front desk like I owned the place.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw in a side room the box that houses the greatest trophy in college football. My heart jumped! "It is in here somewhere," I thought. So, I turned to the student secretary and said, "Do you know where the Jug is?"
She answered, "Do you want to see it?"
"Oh yes," I said, "Very much."
So, she got up and went into the side room where I saw the box. Ah, but instead of reaching into the box, she reached under the table the box was sitting on and pulled out the Jug. I thought to myself, "Now there is Minnesota ingenuity! If a thief came to steal the Jug he would think it is in the box. He wouldn't even think to look under the table! Good thinking Mase! Under the table! Genius!"
She brought the Jug out and set it on the reception desk. Oh man ... words cannot describe the feeling of seeing this piece of history just sitting there right in front of me. So many games, so many players, so many memories. It has its own aura around it that you just can't escape. So, I started to take some pictures:
I asked, "Can I touch it?" and she said, "Sure!"
I couldn't believe it. So, I spun it around and found the most recent score:
From an office down the hall I heard a voice, "We just painted the score on! Don't mess up the paint!"
Does anyone else think this is as weird as I think it is? I mean, this Jug is literally priceless! It is irreplaceable! If it was ever put up for sale at an auction what would a Michigan or Minnesota booster be willing to pay for it? Millions I would wager. And here they are letting me, a total stranger, touch it and spin it around seemingly without a care for its safety. I was in heaven!
So, I asked, "Can I pick it up?" The student secretary looked at me kind of strange and said, "Well sure. Go ahead. Do you want me to take a picture of you with it?"
"Yes!" I answered. I gave her my camera and I picked up the Jug. The words of Lloyd Carr, the Michigan head coach, repeated in my head:
"I don't hold it up in front of the team ... I don't trust myself," Carr said. "I certainly don't want to be remembered as the guy who destroyed the Little Brown Jug. Anybody that handles it needs to be careful with it. Sometimes I worry after the game about the players."
I can't believe they let me pick it up. I can't believe they let anyone touch it! It is amazing to me. And yet, pick it up I did, and here is the picture to prove it:
I may not look "giddy" but I was really, really "giddy." Holding the Jug is something not a whole lot of people get to do, especially if you are from Minnesota.
Anyway, I put down the jug, thanked the student secretary and I walked through the door. A football player near the door saw me and my goofy grin and he gave me a goofy grin of his own. I laughed and walked out the door.
It is truly strange how happy this Little Brown Jug can make people. 19 years of frustration wiped away will do that I guess. Now the Golden Gophers will play for the Axe, but for me the season is already a success. It would certainly be nice to beat Wisconsin, don't get me wrong. I will trudge back to the HOF and ask to see the Axe, too. I may even pose with it like I am smashing the Jug! (Or maybe not). But having the Jug ... that is enough for me. It has been a while since I have been so happy to be a fan of a Minnesota sports team. I thank the Golden Gophers football team for that.
September 13, 2005
Today's bit of wisdom
First things first, by now you've all heard that Minnesota state basketball star Isaiah Dahlman has given a verbal commitment to attend Michigan State. My question is, how long before he decides to attend the University of Minnesota? Check out this list of former state high school basketball stars:
- Rick Rickert committed to Arizona, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Kris Humphris committed to Duke, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Ben Johnson played for Northwestern, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Aaron Boone played for North Carolina, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Dan Coleman attended summer classes at Boston College before deciding to transfer to Minnesota
- Moe Hargrow leaves the program and transfers to Arkansas only to transfer back to Minnesota a year later.
What is going on here? What kind of voodoo magic does Monson have over these players? And again, when should we expect Dahlman to wear the maroon and gold? My bet is after his sophomore year. The writing is on the wall: Dahlman goes to Michigan State, plays decently, but realizes he'd rather be closer to home and his family. He will be a Gopher some day. I think that is a given.
And now for the issue that just won't die, stadiums in Minnesota. I refuse to get my hopes up. I just flat out refuse. But the news coming out of St. Paul is very intriguing. Here is what Dean Johnson has recently said regarding not just one, but three stadiums in our fine state:
"I just got done talking to constituent groups, and they were fairly positive for a one- or two-day special session and a vote on all three stadiums. ... There's now an attitude of getting the job done," he said.
Holy crap. That would be so amazing. But again, I refuse to get my hopes up. Dean Johnson is smoking some pretty powerful wacky-tabacci if he thinks this state can pass a bill to fund even one stadium. Or is he? Of course, T-Paw still refuses to commit to a special session in the wake of Hurricane Katrina so this is all moot until he starts speaking more favorably concerning the possibility.
If no special session is called, though, Mike Opat had some depressing things to say:
"The economics are time-sensitive -- steel prices, oil prices, construction, inflation. That's going to change," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who led the county's negotiations with the Twins for a ballpark deal that includes $125 million from the team and a proposed countywide sales tax. "If the Legislature is unwilling to take us up on this offer, I can't see going through the considerable time and effort to renegotiate with the team."
Does T-Paw think this issue will go away? Because it won't. The Twins and Vikings could leave our state after 2011, we could be without these teams for years, but sooner or later new stadiums for NFL football and MLB baseball will be built in Minnesota. That is a given. It would be a whole heckuva lot cheaper to just do it now.
But I refuse to get my hopes up. There will always be higher priorities. I will be amazed if all this talk actually results in even one stadium being built.
February 7, 2005
I pride my self on being able to admit when I am wrong, and boy was I ever wrong about this year's Gopher's basketball team. Now, in my defense I think they've caught everyone by surprise, but last October I wrote something stupid which is now coming back to haunt me. In October the U of M student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, advertised student Gopher basketball season tickets and the advertisements themselves featured a huge picture of Jeff Hagen. I was unimpressed and I wrote, "If that is the best player on the Gophers, the only player worthy of featuring in an advertisement to build excitement for the team, then they are in a load of trouble this year." Boy was I wrong. Jeff Hagen is a stud, and Vincent Grier is out of this world. If you are still torturing yourself with the T-Wolves start watching the Gophers. It has been a long time since I've had this much fun wathing Gopher's basketball.
Why am I writing this now? Because people are doing Google searches for "Jeff Hagen" and coming to my site through the post in October above. So, if I mention "Jeff Hagen" enough hopefully Google will now pick this entry to point people to. Did I mention that I love Jeff Hagen?
And in case you didn't know, Saturday's game was worth 40 points for the Gopher's athletic program in the battle for the fabled "Border Battle Cup" between the U of M and Wisconsin. Never heard of this competition between our two schools? That is because this "fabled battle" is in its first year. Anyway, here are what the standings look like:
|Date||Sport(points available)||Site||UW Pts||UM Pts|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UM||0||20|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Womenís Soccer (40)||UW||0||40|
|Oct. 30, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UW||20||0|
|Nov. 5, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Football (40)||UW||40||0|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Dec. 4, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW||0||10|
|Dec. 5, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW||5||5|
|Jan. 6, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UW||0||20|
|Jan. 29, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Jan. 30, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Feb. 4, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW||10||0|
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Basketball (40)||UM||0||40|
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW||0||10|
|Feb. 18, 2005||Wrestling (40)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 20, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UM|| || |
|April 8, 2005||Menís Tennis (40)||UM|| || |
|April 10, 2005||Womenís Tennis (40)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
Yikes! This is what is known as a royal butt whoopin' behind the proverbial wood shed. Can the Badgers come back and actually make this a "battle"? Yes, but it is unlikely. They would have almost have to sweep all the remaining competitions.
However, having said all of this, ask me what I would rather have: the Border Battle Cup or Paul Bunyan's Axe, and I'll take the Axe every time.
Finally, the two Twin Cities dailies were a flurry of Viking news this weekend, floating between reporting on a potential sale of the Vikings and a trade of Randy Moss. Sean Jensen of the PiPress reported on Saturday that the NFL was in fact involved in discussions with Red and potential buyers of the Vikings franchise. On Sunday, Sid reported that Fowler is "close to putting a group together to try to buy the Vikings, and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor may have made or will make a new bid to buy the team from Red McCombs." And now today, the Strib again reports that there is no validity to ESPN reports that Moss is being shopped around. Tucked in this article is also some Fowler/Taylor news:
Meanwhile, Fowler's exclusive negotiating rights with McCombs, believed to be for 30 days, will reach its midpoint today. Some have speculated that McCombs will attempt to either complete a deal with Fowler or move on to other offseason business this week. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said he will be ready to act if Fowler is unable to purchase the team. Taylor, however, has been unwilling to meet McCombs' $600-plus million price tag.
I think we can safely assume that something will be happening shortly. Here is what I think. Red wants to sell, the NFL desperatelty wants him to sell, either to a minority owner or a local owner, and it is now make or break time for Fowler's group. Could Red be dropping Moss trade hints in order to freak out Fowler or Taylor? To get them to move quicker on a purchase of the team? Whatever the case, I don't think I can take another year of Red owning the team. Imagine if you were a potential buyer of the Vikings. They are $30 million under the salary cap. If you bought the team, what would you do with all that cap money? I know what I would do, I would spend it and make a run. I would play with my new toy. Pray. Pray that Fowler or Taylor buys the team. Let's have fun again next year.