College Football 77 in 77: #77 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Gophers mascot

At the 2010 Big Ten
Tournament, I made a joke about how much I wanted to punch the
University of Minnesota mascot, Goldy in the head. I'd love to watch his
trademark head swivel around, except in this case put into motion by
the force of a right-handed uppercut.
Three days before the 2011 BTT, a fan did just that. So when I saw Goldy
Gopher again in Indy, I gave him a hug and told him "I feel your pain."
Because both the college football and the college basketball program have been dealt swift punches to the head this past year.

No more reason to inflict additional pain- they have plenty enough in
Dinkytown already. Before being fired, Tim Brewster wrecked the
program. And the hoops team saw their promising season crushed into bits
by the season ending injury to point guard Al Nolen.

Will things get better on the East Bank of the Mighty Mississippi this school year?

2010 was: about as awful as the sales of Prince's
post "Diamonds & Pearls" albums. Maybe they should have suited up
the Purple one at a skill position- he looks like he has some speed. And
Minnesota's backs/receivers seriously need to "purify themselves in the
waters of Lake Minnetonka."

Last year got off to a terrible start at conference media day when
Brewster devoted half of his opening statement to kissing Larry
Fitzgerald's ass. Seriously, go watch the video he mentions Fitzgerald's
name at least a dozen times, and that's exceedingly funny when you
remember that the MPS native went to Pittsburgh, not Minnesota!

Brewster left the cupbaord pretty bare for his successor Jerry Kill, a great hire from Northern Illinois University.

BMOCs: Marqueis Gray, it's all his team now. No more switching between WR and QB. Adam Weber,
who somehow broke numerous school passing records despite not actually
being good at football, is now gone. Gopher fans should consider this an
upgrade, if not for the fact that they actually lose one of the team's
best receivers in Gray. Worthy trade-off?
Da'Jon McKnight is the only legitimate receiver Gray has to throw to.
Tailbacks Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge will try to restart the
Gopher ground game. The defense is just about as uninspiring and
pedestrian as the offense, but DT Brandon Kirksey is a solid player, and
they have a good duo at linebacker.

2011 will be fruitful if: The defensive line improves.
In a league where half the DLs are very good, and the other half are
solid, the Gophs were terrible at this spot. The D was only able to
register 9 sacks in all of 2010 (dead last in FBS). Still UM found
something the last two weeks of the season pulling out big upsets at
Illinois and over Iowa. They were 1-9 on the season entering that
stretch, so those wins were the very definitions of "putting lipstick on
a pig." Can they carry that momentum over?

2011 will be awful if: The Gophers fail to live up to
their namsake, creatures that make their living on the ground. What
happened to that great recent tradition of Gopher runners? (Marion
Barber III, Laurence Maroney, Chris Darkins, Thomas Hamner, Thomas Tapeh
etc. etc.) UM was 10th in conference, 86th in the nation in rushing.
But at least they were a "balanced team" as they were also 10th in
scoring and total offense as well. The more they resemble last year's
team, the more the faithful will look forward to "Tubby Time." Minnesota
was 98th in the nation in run defense and scoring defense too. Good

Bottom Line: Maybe another 3-9, but 4-8 with one
conference could happen. Brendan Beal, a MLB transfer from Florida
should help improve the LBs, but when your best DB is a guy who almost
quit the team over being moved from WR to CB (Troy Stoudemire) you have
serious problems in pass defense. But hey, at least Incubus shot that
really cool music video in your chic postmodern student center across the street from the stadium!

Love the M.C. Escher homage at the beginning.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports He's also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington, NBC and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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