Tempered congratulations to Jerry Kill, Gophers football coach on winning the Big 10 coach of the year. Personally I don’t agree with the selection, I would begrudgingly give it to Urban Meyer.
I’m not on board with the idea that Gophers had such a fantastic year. True, they went from 4th to 2nd in the Big 10 west this year, but I’m going to suggest that had more to do with the continued decline of the Big 10 than anything else. I’m sorry, ONE additional win over last year does not demonstrate anything other than marginal improvement. And beating Michigan at home in 2014, frankly, not that big a deal.
Beating Nebraska on the other had was a great win, and why I would suggest that things are certainly going in the right direction, but to say that they’ve made great strides…. Not so much. Great strides vs the Brewster years? For sure. Great strides vs last year? No. Great strides into becoming a great team? Nope. They’ve been down for so long (Last great season was 1960, last great dynasty? Before WWII) that fans around here have a Chicago Cubs like mentality, success is relative.
BTW I did have to chuckle this week, the University has announced pretty significant increases in Season Ticket prices for Gophers Fans. The cost of “success”. According to the University the Gophers have been undercharging for football for a years. I would contrast this story with one from August (Pre-Success) where students were complaining that in order to by hockey or basketball tickets, they were required to also buy football tickets. Why? Students weren’t going to the games. For that matter neither were fans. Product on the field was keeping folks away. Be curious to see if this helps.
Now before I get assailed for being anti-Gopher let me temper-
It’s not that they didn’t have success, it’s just that the hype doesn’t match performance…
The Gophers had that one great win on the road in Nebraska a few weeks ago. Jerry and the lads deserve tremendous praise for that game, the way they came back, the tough environment in Lincoln, lots of good stuff there. Not exactly Tom Osborne’s Semi-Pro Cornhuskers of old, but a good team to beat twice in a row. Nice.
The win in Nebraska can be contrasted with a loss in Illinois, one of the worst teams in the league. That was embarrassing. Along the way the lads whooped up on Iowa, that was pretty decent win as well. Iowa certainly played Wisconsin better than we did. Northwestern was a tougher win, not sure where the Wildcats stand in the list of football programs, somewhere down low.
I’m sorry Gopher Fans and Big 10 fans in general, Gophers are holding their own in the middle of the pack in a conference that’s in serious decline. Only Ohio State and Michigan State, at the moment, are top tier programs. Wisconsin a close second. After that the quality falls off significantly. The Gophers were embarrassed by Wisconsin last weekend. The actual game not nearly as close as the score indicated. Anyone who watched the game knew the outcome at the half, and the Gophers were actually up at the half. But the signs were there and we were not surprised. No upsets, typical story, and no Axe for Minnesota. AGAIN.
If you look at the Big 10 this year, because the entire league is in decline, it’s hard to gauge how far the conference has fallen based on inter-conference play. So, I looked at early season non-conference play. There, the story is clearer.
Zooming in on Week 2 of the season. Ohio State lost to West Virginia. That same weekend Michigan State got beat in Oregon, and Michigan got clobbered by Notre Dame, a team that has since proved to be somewhat mediocre as well. Last time OSU, MSU and MI lost on the same weekend? Um never? No idea, but highly indicative of things to come.
Wisconsin that week, took their typical three quarters to get started against mighty Western Illinois. The game was 7-0 most of the first half. Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois, Purdue lost to Central Michigan, newcomer Maryland scraped a win against Southern Florida… basically you had a lot tight non-conference games against 3rd tier teams that were a lot closer than they should have been.
The next weekend we had Indiana losing to Bowling Green at home, Maryland losing to West VA, Iowa losing to Iowa State, Illinois was destroyed by a crappy Washington Huskies team, Minnesota losing to TCU- legit loss there. TCU is damned good. Purdue losing to Notre Dame, Prude is horrible, and so is Notre Dame. The Big 10 went 3-6 that week against teams with compass points in their names.
The entire preconference time, there was only one victory against a serious ranked team- lowly Indiana managed to upset Mizzou, other that, clean sweep.
So looking at the national bowl situation, I don’t think we’ll see a Big 10 team in contention for the playoffs. Sort of depends on how they make their picks and what OSU does against Wisconsin on Saturday. Without Braxton Miller at QB… could be interesting.
I’m hopeful the Gophers can keep the momentum going in the right direction. Kill is certainly going to use this perceived success to continue to rally for a state of the art, indoor/outdoor practice facility at the U, something I believe they need to be able to recruit talent here. But given the demise of the Big10 overall, I’m not sure I’d be the “long” on the program.
Assuming of course that Jerry doesn’t go to Michigan, which frankly I would do if I were in his shoes. Despite a couple years of crappy play, Michigan is still a huge brand in College football and they guy that turns that program around will get recognized on the national stage.
BTW- one last editorial here- regarding the election committee for the football playoffs… Bunch of AD’s and Condoleezza Rice. Token female in the group. I think football fans are going to be as upset with this system as they were with the previous ranking processes. Now there’s human intervention and I can’t wait for the “Rigged” and “We were screwed” cat calls. NPR who’s sports department consists of one part time reporter who occasionally watches sporting contests during the intermissions of more interesting cultural events had the best idea I’ve ever heard regarding selecting teams to do this football selection.
There’s only one group of professional sports experts in this country who are 100% divested of partisanship and loyalties that cloud judgment on game day. And who at the same time are more accurate than any AD or Sportscaster or former Secretary of State.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee Show Live from Ceaser’s Palace. Lets the oddsmakers do it, they have demonstrated that they know best.