Welcome back to B1G 2019, Off Tackle Empire’s week-by-week preview of all fourteen Big Ten teams!
One feature we’re adding this summer is “Better Know a B1G Blog,” wherein we get a chance to hear from the various schools’ own bloggers about what makes their site, their school, and their fans unique in both the Big Ten and the college football landscape. Check out our pieces with Rutgers’ On the Banks, Illinois’ The Champaign Room, Nebraska’s Corn Nation, Maryland’s Testudo Times, and Purdue’s Hammer and Rails.
While we love, appreciate, and enjoyed our time with each of those blogs, though, it’s time to enjoy a little something with our friends over at The Daily Gopher, your source of all things Gophers news, commentary, humor, and self-loathing. Give them a follow on Twitter!
GopherNation: Guess it will only be appropriate this will probably drop on hate day, because we all know Minnesotans love self-hate more than anything.
OTE: Tell us about The Daily Gopher: Your origin story, any particular in-jokes or memes we should be aware of, or any other Minnesota-specific quirks we should know about when we pop over to read an article!
Gopherguy05: Gophernation was around for the beginning, so I guess he would be the one to believe on that. Most of our masthead and our commentators are Minnesotans, so expect plenty of passive-aggressiveness.
IowaGopher: I can’t speak to the origin of The Daily Gopher itself, but I’ve been writing for TDG since 2015. You know, when Jerry Kill’s rebuild of Gopher Football was all but complete, only we were unaware at the time that what he was building was about as structurally soundas a Jenga tower.
As far as what to expect when you happen to wander over to TDG, I assure you that no matter how much you may hate Minnesota, no one loathes Minnesota as much as Gopher fans. We are self-loathing creatures by nature. Minnesota could win the Big Ten championship and there would still be a Gopher fan lamenting that it was tainted because Fleck ran down the sideline or the team wasn’t wearing an acceptable combination of maroon and gold.
UStreet: Tom can happily regale you with the origin story. I don’t think we have any Minnesota specific quirks other than self loathing.
GN: TDG was started when myself (GopherNation) andPagingJimShikejanski decided to combine our blogging powers into one and join the SBN Network back in 2008. It was the days of Tubby Smith and Tim Brewster, so there was no shortage of quality content at our fingertips. Others have covered specific Minnesota quirks, but any inside joke around these parts is usually derived from typos or mistakes published that turn into a “thing.” Such as the Jerry Kill offense of “Shits and Motions.”
OTE: Give us an idea of what kind of #content you think exemplifies the qualities of The Daily Gopher. What’s been your favorite writing assignment or experience for TDG? (Feel free to include links to articles!)
GN: My favorite writing is always the Monday Perspective during the football season. Fans and bloggers can get so excitable over one game when the results of one game are not necessarily predictive of the rest of the season.
GG05: We try and cover a bit of everything. So yes, we go hard on football and basketball and hockey, but we also pride ourselves in covering the non-rev sports, and especially our really successful oneslike Volleyball, women’s hockey and softball as well as we can.
IG: The most interesting article I’ve written for TDG, in my opinion,was one about what it means to change a program’s culture.
It’s safe to say Fleck has ruffled a few feathers since being hired at Minnesota, and his emphasis on program culture has opened up an interesting dialogue about what exactly that means. In general, Ithink Fleck is fun to write about and the program is more interesting as a whole with him at the helm.
But the most important work I’ve done at TDG, by far, was when I penned an open letter to Fleck imploring him to go “full banana”.
Ustreet: Content wise we have three general categories: “News,” opinion, and jokes. The first are your standard recaps. The second would be something like this. The third. Content not written by me would be articles like “Go Gnome, You’re Drunk!”
OTE: What’s one stereotype about the TDG commentariat and Minnesota fanbase that Big Ten fans as a whole get wrong? What’s the mood in Gopher Nation as Year Three (or is it Two?) of Peejus is upon us?
GG05: PJ is the easy target, but in general I think people just think that we are too optimistic about everything. Guess we can blame WhiteSpeedReceiver for that one.
The mood is split between people thinking this us our year to make a run at the West, and others waiting for the same old Minnesota to show up. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
IG: There seems to be a perception that Gopher fans are already drunk on P.J. Fleck’s brand of Kool-Aid and suffering from hallucinogenic delusions of grandeur.
I would say there is a general feeling of cautious optimism about the program’s trajectory under Fleck, but no one is more prepared for the bottom to fall out than Gopher fans. It’s titillating to talk about the Gophers winning the West, but ultimately we’ll believe it when we see it.
Plus isn’t everyone playing for second in the West with the national championship contenders in Nebraska?
UStreet: What IowaGopher said.
OTE: What are you most excited about for the Gophers’ 2019 season? For the uninitiated fan of another Big Ten school, what are the storylines surrounding your program? Where do you see the Gophers in the pantheon of Big Ten football going into 2019--or in the mess that is the Big Ten West, at least?
IG: The big storyline is whether the program can take another step forward under Fleck after a strong finish to last season.
This is shaping up to be a bit of a “show me” season, especially in terms of recruiting. And that strong finish last year was due in large part to the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Robb Smith. The turnaround under his replacement, Joe Rossi, was immediate and remarkable.
Can Rossi get it done over the length of a full season? We’ll see. There is a lot of young talent on this team, and I think the Gophers will certainly be in the mix for the Big Ten West, barring an unforeseen disaster. I think winning the Big Ten is a leap too far, but there are enough flawed teams in the West that no one, aside from maybe Illinois, should feel like they are out of contention for the division title
US: What IowaGopher said.
OTE: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Anything else—tailgating advice, Minneapolis bars to visit (feel free to trashand definitely not link to and pimp Gopher Nation’s totally biased brewery rankings here that I’m totally not mad about; shut up), local cuisine, etc.—we should know about the Gophers and TDG?
GG05: The brewery scene in the Twin Cities is exploding, as we have showcased on out site lately. The distillery scene is almost as hot if you like a bit more proof to your quaffing. Even the BBQ scene in Minneapolis is exploding—seriously.
Come enjoy some good food, good drink, and hopefully a soul-crushing loss to the Gophers.
IG: I’ll leave this one up to the locals.
US: What Gophernation has written about for a month plus our soon-to-be all-food-related podcast. Ask us questions so we can answer them on the Ski-U-Pahdcast.
Thanks to GopherNation, IowaGopher, Gopherguy05, and UStreet for their time! Give them and The Daily Gopher a follow on Twitter, and check out the good work they’re doing over at The Daily Gopher!
Now stay tuned for Minnesota Hate in just a couple hours...