Note from GoAUpher: While this story may be up under my name, all credit (and all donations for therapy) should be given to OTE and TDG's very own WhiteSpeedReceiver. Follow him on Twitter (@BenjaminJDawson) and I promise that you'll be entertained when the Gophers are having a Gopher-tastic day.
Do you know who hates Minnesota the most? Is it Iowa or Wisconsin fans? Is it fans of teams counting on us to have a pulse to help improve their BCS computer metrics? Is it even Illinois or Michigan State fans who, despite having everything in place to have better programs, constantly find ways to lose to us? Nope. Who hates Minnesota? We hate Minnesota.
I'm something magical and rare: A Gophers fan in their early 30s. I'm as common as a unicorn, an Iowa fan without a cousin in jail for meth distribution, or a Wisconsin fan without "low metabolism." There's a gap in the age spread of Gopher fans that runs between people in their 70s who were alive when the Gophers were an elite program (before that pesky desegregation thing ruined everything for us) and young children who are still more enthralled by Goldy the Gopher than the product on the field. Everyone in between becomes disillusioned with the team, or distracted by the purple ronin, or just doesn't care about college football because the local sports media told them we're terrible. And the sycophants in the sports media aren't wrong, they just seem to enjoy beating a paralyzed horse.
That's because in the time between when administration tried de-emphasizing football in the 1960s and when the beautiful toy stadium that is TCF Bank Stadium was approved in 2006 there was barely any reason to pay attention to the Gophers. Football was of such great value to the administration that one former President, whom I won't name because it's really tough to spell "Nils Hasselmo", tried to replace football as a flagship sport with futbol. Support from Morrill Hall was so spectacular that of the coaches hired since 1972, only three of them have been even worth mentioning: Lou "I cheated my ass off and paid players, but Luther Darville took the fall for me" Holtz, Glen "What do you mean we can't put all 85 scholarship players and all the walk-ons on offense?" Mason, and the current mascot understudy Jerry Kill. 40 years of nothing above mediocre coaches has left a fanbase that consists only of geriatrics, small children, and people who probably need a safe word every time they get into the bedroom.
When you take that crippling flaw in the program and throw in the fact that St. Paul (and to a lesser extent, Minneapolis) is the best place to live in the Midwest other than Chicago, and you've got a recipe for your area to be overrun by job-seeking graduates from Iowa and Wisconsin fans looking for something better in life than being ankle deep in manure and Lipitor. It's not easy to develop a fanbase when your rivals give away road maps to your town with diplomas at graduation.
But do you know what the biggest thing in the way of the Gophers has been my entire life? The Gophers. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this should be worth electroshock therapy:
Please note all losses vs. 1-AA teams have been removed because I have access to sharp objects and power tools.
All of these things, mixed together, lead to a self-loathing fanbase that's so far past passive-aggressive hate that you can see the cut marks through our sleeves. We hurt, we're constantly wounded further, and with future schedules, it doesn't look like we're going to be getting better any time soon. So if you see us, give us a hug. We need one, because football season is right around the corner. The only positive we have is that we don't have to go inside to watch football anymore, and that's just tremendous.