Sometimes at TRE we stifle our emotive side to give you more football analysis, less homerism. Not today. Hide the women, children, and Minnesota fans, Hawkeye State is coming to town. And not in a jolly Santa Claus way either. More like a "finish of The Godfather when Michael has all the heads of the other families killed and then knocks off his sisters husband too" way. Much thanks to Hawkeye State and BHGP for ending Minnesota Week with a bang.
It's April, though, and my hate lies dormant like a hockey-playing polar bear sleeping below the thick ice of the Bering Sea, just waiting to be awoken by the Russian Icebreaker that is the month of November. So let's get positive for once, and talk about the things we like about Minnesota.
I like the fact that Minnesota spent the last 20 years in the Metrodome, an arena that holds 6000 fewer people than Kinnick Stadium and yet was exponentially larger than regional interest in the Golden Gophers. Kinnick North doesn't happen without this combination of oversized facility and apathetic fanbase, and for that I and 20,000 of my closest friends are grateful. It's your fans' apathy and your stadium's grandiosity that has allowed us to lay waste to your parking lots, to tear down your goalposts, to defile your bathroom stalls (which we also appreciate for being large enough to hold two normal-sized adults or up to four Minnesota linemen). Two of my five most treasured moments in the past decade have occurred under your beige roof, Metrodome (the 2002 finish to Iowa's perfect Big Ten season and the 55-0 shellacking in 2008). Thanks for the memories.
I like your new bite-sized stadium, built perfectly for the high school feel of Gopher football. It's quaint. It's cute. It's built to avoid the sort of biennial stadium invasion Iowa and Wisconsin launched at the Hump Dump, and yet its builders short-sightedly forgot the listlessness and disinterest of the Minnesota fanbase. Tickets may be scarce today, but they will be plentiful in late November once the Gophers hit 4-7 and the fans turn their attention to whoever replaces Tubby Smith. We will break into your new home, just as we broke into your old one, only now the revolving doors have been replaced by a goalpost-friendly open end zone.
Some stadiums, like Iowa's, are named after heroes. Some, like Penn State's, are named after benefactors. Some, like Michigan's and Ohio State's, need no name, as their given monikers have been engulfed by their mythology. But Minnesota, a program allegedly steeped in tradition, named its new stadium after a bank. Selling naming rights to your college stadium is a decision so deliciously money-hungry, so cynically corporate, that even Indiana hasn't done it, and Indiana sold a home game to Daniel Snyder. The best programs, like soon-to-be Minnesota opponent Southern Cal, have treated their players as professionals while maintaining the outward appearance of amateurism. Minnesota has somehow done the opposite: Taking the worst of professional sports' tendency to consume every available dollar, and applying it to this most amateur of programs.
Most of all, I love Tim Brewster, willing patriarch to this dysfunctional family, grinning idiotically while his program corrodes from within, spinning the company line while reality proves differently, fiddling while St. Paul burns. He is a "recruiter," in that he finds Rivals-approved talent and then leaves them in that larval state, unable or even unwilling to let them develop from high school stars into Big Ten regulars, forever touting that next class. In a conference addled with the likes of Rich Rodriguez and Ron Zook, Tim Brewster is the worst of the snake oil salesmen, pimping big locker rooms to potential recruits while his current players languish on the vine. We kid about GO FIGHT TRY BEST WIN TREMENDOUS TIM, but not really, because anyone who repeatedly bends the truth as he does -- whether by taking credit for other coaches' wins when he served as a less-than-coordinator, or conveniently forgetting the worst loss in modern program history, or repeatedly bragging about a "national championship trophy" for a contested championship won twenty-six years before the trophy was even created -- has nothing left to rely upon but hyperbole.
Goldy hasn't always been this likable. Once, Minnesota was a football powerhouse, running roughshod over the Big Ten, obliterating all teams in their path. And then World War II ended, and then some other stuff happened, and then Minnesota hired Glen Mason, and the rest is history. Mason owns the highest winning percentage of any Minnesota coach since FDR was in office with an uninspiring .535 mark against some of the worst schedules in the history of the world. Murray Warmath, for whom the Gophers named their legendary locker room, barely broke .500. The Gophers haven't won a share of the Big Ten title in 43 years. They haven't played a January game in 48. The numbers don't lie. Minnesota is no longer a rival to their claimed foes Iowa and Wisconsin. No, Minnesota is a joke.