This weekend, the Mankato State Mavericks (none of that Minnesota State bullshit) will play host to the Ferris State Bulldogs. That, in and of itself, should divide our commentariat enough between East and West, Michigan and Minnesota, Bulldogs and Mavericks.
But if there’s one thing we can all unite around, it’s opposition to this horrendously shitty take from Deadspin’s Patrick Redford:
You see, last week Mankato hosted (and beat) Tarleton State in what was functionally the Elite Eight of the NCAA D-II playoffs. They also did it in a snowstorm. Let’s check the parts Redford gets right before opening up just a litany of his shittaeking glory:
The city was blanketed in eight inches of snow over the weekend, half of which arrived during the second half alone. It snowed so much that the city of Mankato declared a “snow emergency.” And yet, at Blakeslee Stadium, still they played on.
Right! Because eight inches of snow is not just an average wintery day in Mankato, located in southern Minnesota. It’s a siren song to any red-blooded Midwestern youth to put on snowpants, grab a stick, ball, or skate of choice, and get out in the snow to play!
And, in fact, Mankato State’s boys did just that, strapping in for this doozy of a record-breaking drive:
With 11:19 left in the third quarter and facing a 10-0 deficit, MSU got the ball on their own three-yard line. What followed was the longest drive in NCAA history at any level.
MSU took 27 plays to get to the end zone, holding the ball for 12:09 in the process. They converted five third downs and two fourth downs before finally scoring on fourth-and-goal from the five. The inclement weather conditions, which also included high winds, forced MSU to keep running the ball over and over again, which they did for the first 26 plays of the drive, a streak that would have made Woody Hayes blush. Junior running back Nate Gunn ran it 18 times on the drive alone, and he finished with 50 carries for the day. Finally, on fourth-and-goal from the five, MSU switched it up and called a pass, which went for a touchdown. [...]
The Mavericks then scored, much more quickly, a few drives later. That was enough to win, and they probably have the blizzard to thank for tilting the game in their favor.
Beautiful! Snow football at its finest! Those boys from [/checks notes]—oh Jesus, Fort Worth?!—Tarleton State didn’t stand a chance, did they?
Tarleton State players had sideline heaters, but MSU opted to embrace their identity as a Minnesota-ass team of snow-loving weirdos: [RB Nate] Gunn said his teammates simply wanted to embrace being a cold-weather team. “Heaters didn’t even pop up in the conversation,” he said.
That’s gorgeous. That is the kind of thing you paint a portrait of, hang in your living room, and loudly tell guests about the moment they walk in the door.
Unfortunately, Redford—who I’m sure also turns on the heat right after Labor Day—saw it differently:
Football can be perfect and beautiful. It can also suck complete and total ass for everyone involved. Today, we travel to Mankato, Minn. for the latter experience.
Jesus, man. What sucks about this? Any football-loving Minnesotan worth his or her salt can tell you at least two anecdotes: (1) a story from Vikings training camp or other assorted rowdiness in Mankato, and (2) a story in which it snowed sooooo much that every other event shut down except whatever they were doing that day. [Getting Gary Anderson’s autograph in 1998 and my April wedding, thanks for asking.]
No doubt you can repeat this template time and time again for any of our Midwestern brethren, be they in Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, or—we grudgingly concede—wisconsin.
This is the way football was meant to be played: 26 runs—no doubt bread-and-butter, off-tackle, pull-the-guard plays that brought frozen tears to the eyes of red-assed high school coaches from Le Sueur to Sleepy Eye—in the snow, to totally break your opponent’s will to live. And then to dunk on ‘em with a fade—called in damn-near blizzard conditions?!
This isn’t just some Woody Hayes “when you throw the ball, three things can happen” nonsense. This is football at its purest—running the ball, because you don’t need to do anything else, and how dare you suggest it.
There’s nothing weird about that drive or that game. That’s as B1G as it gets. That’s football in the Midwest. Get your snowpants. Go out and play. Go Mavs.