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Mr. Jones

30 Aug

University of Minnesota CB #15 Marcus Jones

I love a touching story, especially in the realm of college athletics.  Granted, I am in a small bubble when it comes to my bias towards Minnesota sports, however, a good story is a good story, no matter where you come from.  Especially one about a student athlete overcoming adversity, a medical one in this case.  And, as it turns out, an educational one perhaps as well.  In a matter of a couple minutes of reading, I was introduced to the character of University of Minnesota junior football player, cornerback Marcus Jones.

You see Marcus has overcome something very few of us after-work-hit-the-gym athletes has ever experienced- an ACL knee injury.  Twice.  Once in each knee.  Watching Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson recover from this type of injury didn’t make Marcus’ recovery amazing to me.  What did was his motivation.  Lost in all the drama about the NCAA making billions of dollars on college athletics is the real reason the student athlete is called such- they are students.

Marcus was asked why put oneself through the rehab, twice in two years, for ACL knee injuries to merely play a violent sport such as football, a tough task for someone who is 5’8” tall weighing 166 pounds:

Why? Whooo. I don’t know. There’s so much about it that I love. I even love the summer workouts. I love everything about the game.  A lot of it is the camaraderie between teammates. A lot of it is that you get to use that aggression, that speed. Everything that is a positive for you, you get to use to your advantage.  I couldn’t play basketball. I was too small. I tried baseball for a while and had a couple of injuries there. Football has meant a lot to me. You get a scholarship to play and a lot of your life turns into football at that point, because you’re so grateful, because a lot of people do not get this opportunity.  Football means so much because, the way I see it, if it wasn’t for college football, I wouldn’t get an education.

That last sentence stopped me.  You can feel those words he spoke.  He’s so motivated simply because of the opportunity to go to college, something you never hear in the age of big NFL contracts and autograph hawking Heisman trophy winners.  Marcus is the kind of kid I want going to my alma mater.  Marcus has the kind of character I want playing on the University of Minnesota football team.  If fact, his presence, which includes both those repaired knees, was immensely felt in the first game of this collegiate season.  At the start of the second half of last night’s 51-23 victory by the University of Minnesota over UNLV, he returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.  A very nice opening chapter to the Marcus Jones story this year.

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College football reborn

23 Sep

Winning cures all ills

If you win, they will come

There are many different ways to illustrate it in writing.  Some people argue that performing to the best of your ability is all that should matter.  Collegiate presidents and athletic directors may not directly say so but they depend on it.  No matter your personal take, no one can argue that people love a winning college football program.  For the University of Minnesota, traveling the road to success in the last 5 years has been a daunting task.  As I sat within the walls of TCF Bank Stadium last night watching the 2012 Golden Gopher football team gain a 17-10 victory over the Syracuse Orange, I couldn’t help but smile at the vast excitement of the fans around me as our team improved to a 4-0 record.  Last year’s hiring of head coach Jerry Kill away from Northern Illinois University no longer seems like a whim, already eclipsing the 3 win total from 2011.  This year’s team seems to be the most athletic in quite some time, not to mention a defensive effort that seems to make plays every single game.  The biggest change I personally noticed is that Golden Gopher football games are fun again.  Of course, competitive football and a string of victories will do that to a fan.  I know the BigTen is not the SEC, where football is the sole purpose for one’s livlihood.  However, in a town with every major professional sport, they are poised to make this competitive football program the top sports talker.  Funny how simply winning some football games will do that.

BigTen football championship trophy is renamed

14 Nov

Bowing to the pressure caused by the sexual assault scandal, the BigTen conference announced today they are officially renaming the football championship trophy as the “Stagg Trophy” from “Stagg-Paterno Trophy”.  This will be awarded to the winner of the inaugural conference football championship game on December 3rd, 2011.  The remaining namesake on this trophy, Amos Alonzo Stagg, was a standout coach and football innovator at the University of Chicago from 1892-1932.  The University of Chicago was a founding member of the BigTen conference in 1896, and they remained until exiting in 1946 after de-emphasizing varsity athletics after World War II.

Given the recent events unfolding in State College, PA I am not surprised by such a move.  Everyone and everybody is trying to distance themselves from this particular scandal.  In the end, just another sad story in the legacy of Joe Paterno.

Glad you’re staying another year Floyd

30 Oct

For the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons, Floyd of Rosedale, the trophy awarded to the winner of the Minnesota-Iowa football game, is staying in Minnesota for a second consecutive year.  Minnesota defeated Iowa 22-21 in the waning minutes of the 4th quarter as MarQueis Gray scampered in the winning touchdown on a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line.  As a season ticket holder and alumnus of the university, it really feels like the kids are starting to buy into the formula of first year head coach Jerry Kill- work hard all week and good results will eventually come.  That seemed to happen on this chilly October afternoon.