Tag Archives: University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

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.

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.

Tampa Bay beatdown

6 Apr

Prognosticating skills? Dead.  Not that I ever had any, especially for the sport of hockey.  College hockey probably even less.  Yes it’s true, I let my allegiance and heart influence my logic for determining winners of the 2012 Frozen Four.  At least I got the score right in the first game?  Guess that doesn’t count when the teams are reversed.  Also never saw the poor University of Minnesota performance coming either.  A loss by only a couple of goals feels like it would have been a victory.  Alas, I’m no expert, which is why I will put the 6-1 loss to Boston College into the category of anomaly.  If they played next week, would the same result happen?  Perhaps.  But I bet you it would be a close game with another Golden Gopher loss.  There it is, that cynic inside of has returned…I’ve flushed out the optimism brewing the week leading up to last night’s game.  Better luck next year?  No, I’ll take skill instead.  Another summer we wait, this time we’ll see if the hunger for a championship grows.  Along with growing pains of a brand new goaltender.  I had fun this year, thanks guys!

2012 Frozen Four: Semifinals predictions

5 Apr

Ten years ago, the University of Minnesota men’s ice hockey team ended a 23 year championship drought when they won the 2002 title in St. Paul, MN.  For the sport that is the most popular in the state of Minnesota, that title was the school’s first since it was won by a coach, who was arguably the nation’s biggest hockey ambassador- Herb Brooks.  Watching the state react that year it was obvious how much pride residents hold the sport of hockey and just how important that victory was.  After winning a second consecutive title in 2003, the Gophers find themselves waning to break another title drought, albeit a much shorter one.  This afternoon, the 2012 Frozen Four gets under way from Tampa, FL with Union taking on Ferris State in the afternoon game and Minnesota versus Boston College in the night cap.  Admittedly biased as a Gopher fan, I’ll do my best with predictions.  You’ll get minimal analysis as I’m no expert 🙂

Union v. Ferris State

Not being familiar with either team, except for the fact that both are in their first Frozen Four for the first time ever, I see Union taking this one.  It sounds like Ferris State lacks scoring prowess, they won’t be able to catch up.  Union 3-1.

Boston College v. Minnesota

I know Boston College is on a 17 game winning streak and are the overall number one seed.  Ask Minnesota how that’s supposed to work out when they lost to Holy Cross in 2006.  I don’t have specific reasons other than a gut feeling…Minnesota gets it done tonight.  As I’ve been stating it for a week, the Gophers feel like the NFL’s New York Giants from the past season.  Tough, gritty, hard-working, enough talent.  Ask the Giants how their season ended this year.  The Gophers find a way to slow Boston College, Kent Patterson controls the game, and Kyle Rau is the x-factor.  Minnesota 4-2.

Tampa, prepare for a Gopher invasion

25 Mar

After a 7 year hiatus (seven?!?), the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team is returning to the NCAA Frozen Four for 2012 in Tampa, FL after dispatching the University of North Dakota 5-2 in the West Regional Final at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN.  Travis Boyd scored his first collegiate goal for the University of Minnesota to go along with goals from Ben Marshall, Erik Haula, Taylor Matson, and Nate Condon.  A much different scene than the game 8 days ago between these two teams where the Gophers blew a 3 goal lead in the the semifinals of the 2012 WCHA Final Five tournament to lose 6-3.  Eeerily similar to a situation 5 years ago where the Gophers beat the Sioux in the conference tournament only to lose to them in the NCAA tourney, this time it was reversed.  The Golden Gophers will face Boston College on April 5th in the second semifinal game.  A well played game by the Gophers, I was happy to see them have a sense of pride for the debacle a mere week ago.  Thanks for coming to St. Paul 2 weeks in a row Sioux fans. (and I hope you spent lots of money too!)

WCHA regular season champs once again!

5 Mar

Seems like it’s been forever since the last time the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team had any hardware to show for their season.  All that changed this past Saturday night.  For the first time since the 2006-2007 season, they are the regular season WCHA champions and will again have their name etched to the MacNaughton Cup, the trophy given to said champion.  It didn’t come easy, as it shouldn’t.  In the final regular season series, the Gophers were battling their border rivals from the University of Wisconsin.  After dropping Friday night’s contest 4-1, they spotted the Badgers a 1-0 lead on Saturday.  Erik Haula tied the game on a short handed goal, and then sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt put them ahead for good on this spectacular play.  The Gophers will be the number one seed in the forthcoming post-season tournament for the WCHA and are in prime position for selection into the NCAA tournament…something else that has also eluded them the last several years.

Gophers are the “New York Yankees” of college hockey? I still need more convincing…

7 Nov

Fresh off a weekend sweep of their main and highly-touted conference rival University of North Dakota, the 2011-2012 University of Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team returned to the highest point of any of the collegiate teams, a number one ranking across the country.  A local newspaper blog exclaimed that they are often referred to as the “NY Yankees of college hockey” when they resumed their perch as no. #1 in the land.  I, for one, have never witnessed a conversation where this was exclaimed, in fact, this was the first time I read it in print.  But, instead of being offended and swaying to the defensive, I look at it as a compliment…if the author was being sincere.  The New York Yankees represent excellence in their particular sport of baseball, albeit they’ve gone about their business in sort of a brute-force manner within the rules- buying/overpaying/outbidding for the best available baseball players.  In that sense you’d expect them to succeed, the laws of averages would simply be in their favor.  No doubt excellence would be achieved, although they had a gap of 9 years in-between championships.  The Golden Gopher hockey team, on the other hand, is at the collegiate level, is recruiting players on the same level as any of the other schools with a NCAA Division I program, and in theory has no advantage over anyone else (notice I said in theory).  I would argue, their excellence had been achieved across an even playing field that anyone else could have also achieved as the University of Minnesota players could have simply gone to school somewhere else.  To me, winning championships at this collegiate level is a greater accomplishment.  However, since they haven’t been in the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament the last several years, they probably don’t deserve to be compared to the Yankees based on consistency-sake alone, but I guess I shouldn’t complain.  Even the best teams must persevere through championship droughts.  Look at the facts, by the spring of 2012, the University of Minnesota will be on it’s own nine year drought.  :tongueincheek:  Just sayin…

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.