Monday, November 20, 2017

So...yeah

Not great, huh? After Nebraska it kinda, sorta felt like we might have a workable approach on offense. Yeah, we didn't pass the ball much, but the Hydra of Croft, Smith, Kobe and Brooks could generate enough rushing yards to mitigate the flaccidity of our abilities to put the ball in the air.

Not so much. I'm not going to spend a ton of time breaking down what happened against Northwestern, because it can be summed up with any of "ignominious defeat of the highest order," "straight up trash panda" or "I'd rather drink gasoline and stick a flaming sword in my belly, so my insides shoot out my back like I was a Roman candle." It was one of the worst games I've ever watched in every facet.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Bowl Hope's Alive"

Sung to the tune of Pearl Jam's "Alive"

Old dogs, I say
The team you thought was a loser
Might not be dead yet


While you were screamin’
Into the void and at your TV
Your point of view was dyin’


It’s time to start believin’
Or just stop with the talk


Oh I, oh, Bowl Hope’s Still Alive
Hey, hey, I, oh, Bowl Hope’s Still Alive
Hey I, oh, Bowl Hope’s Still Alive

"The Wreck of Coach Patrick Fitzgerald"

The following song is sung to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." If you aren't an old and you need a frame of reference, you can find the original song on YouTube here.


The legend lives on from Kev Trahan on down
Of a head coach that is very yelly
The coach, it is said, even screams in his bed
When the fates of Northwestern turn gloomy
With a load of Wildcats, 85 fine purple hats
Seeds of anger Fitzgerald was sowing
But ol’ Patrick’s jaw was a bone to be chewed
When the Fleck of November came rowing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's never too early to overreact

Well, fellow shootyhoops fans (shootyball? hoopyball? I'll abide by whatever our good friends at Taken All Wrong podcast ultimately decide), here we are a full two games into the 2017-2018 Gophers basketball season. The great thing about overreaction is I'd be able to write this article whether we were 2-0 or (oh, dear God) 0-2. We already have Rothstein anointing Jordan Murphy the best PF in the Big Ten, and Seth Davis calling us "Final Four good" so we are actually a bit behind with the overreactions here at SGH. Well, no more - here we go with our thoughts on the 2-0 Golden Gophers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

PJ's Path to the Rose Bowl - A Still Got Hope? Analysis

Hello friends. First time, long time.

Fresh off the most satisfying win in the nascent P.J. Fleck era of Gopher football, it's worthwhile to pause and reflect on both where we are as a program, and where we want to be. The latter is simple: Pasadena, preferably accompanied by a near-dusk vista of the San Gabriel's.

As to the former, I'd contend we haven't really been close to winning the conference since 2003. 2014 was fun and all, but the secret sauce was a little too much generic Thousand Island dressing and not enough meat for that perfect B1G mac attack. There was something missing, the same two ingredients absent from the Gophers over the last 10+ seasons (saying nothing of the last 50 years) inherently present in successful conference champions. The elements weren't there last season (9 wins though), aren't currently available, and generally haven't been since Glen Mason stopped pining for the Ohio State job sometime early on in the previous decade.

Reaching the ultimate goal, a trip to the Rose Bowl, requires Fleck to address the two biggest issues holding this program back: boosting the talent level of the team, and developing a quarterback.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

2017-2018 Gophers – How we reach our ceiling, and how we could stumble

College sports are wildly unpredictable by nature. As Gopher fans, that’s often a very good thing. This is the year we will take back the axe! This is the season every major national publication has underrated our favorite team! The variance between best case and worst case outcomes, the exciting inconsistency in the performance of 18-22 year old student-athletes, is precisely the reason we Still Got Hope.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It's Time to Make the Chair Legit

When the Gophers take the field against Nebraska this weekend, it may or may not be for the first trophy truly born in the 21st Century: The $5 Bits of Broken Chair. 

Yes, there are newer trophies, but none came to life purely through the passion and creativity of people from the Internet. A Twitter parody account, a college mascot and the denizens of Reddit joined forces in a way not possible when Floyd, the Jug and the Axe were conceived. People that had never met, and may still only know each other through message boards and other digital media, created something 

Technology facilitated its original birth and it lived for two seasons in real life before quietly disappearing a few years ago. The circumstances of its status are unknown, but it's fairly safe to say the administrations of neither Nebraska nor Minnesota approved and mutually decided to pretend it never existed in the first place.

But there has been a rebirth. Once again, a group of Internet people have come together out of passion and in the spirit of tradition and charity to give this trophy a second life. It celebrated its coming out party last week in Nebraska and will be unveiled to Minnesota fans this Thursday at my favorite campus haunt, Stub and Herbs (6PM - 9PM and I'm told there are door prizes too). 

One of the catalysts behind its resurrection was charity - to gain acceptance from the universities, it would need to serve the greater good. Thus the organizers have been fundraising for the Team Jack Foundation and the Univerity of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. As of today, they stand at $4,000 dollars raised out of a $5,000 goal. With a good push over the next few days and Saturday, there is no reason to believe they won't reach it. 

What remains in doubt is whether the trophy will be allowed on the field on Saturday. Both administrations have remained mum on the issue, but it's hard to believe it will be allowed in the stadium without explicit approval from the University of Minnesota at the least (alas, it's a bit too bulky to shove down one's pants with your trusty flask.)

I wonder why the schools have not embraced this. The trophy seems to embody everything that college football is supposed to be about. During his weekly radio show yesterday, Coach Fleck saw the trophy for the first time and summed up better than I can why this trophy is special: "I heard rivalry, I heard fundraising, charity, tradition...and I'm in."

You can't say that about many of the trophies in college football, particularly the newer ones. Here is one born of passion, oriented in tradition and founded on charitable intent. Fans did this because they care. Fans embrace it because they care. Fans want it to survive and be part of our program story for generations to come.

It's time to let the first trophy birthed from 21-Century technology live. It's time for both schools to make the Chair legitimate.

"Holdin' Back the Cheers"

The following song is sung to the tune of Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years." If you aren't an old and you need a frame of reference, you can find the original song on YouTube here.


"Holdin' Back the Cheers"

Your everlasting pessimism
You just won’t let it pass
You’re bitching about something
That you don’t think will last
But you wouldn't know a winner
If you held it in your hand
The things that make you angry
I can't understand

Are you holdin’ back the cheers?
Erecting a Claeys shrine?
Are you rippin’ through the beers?
Mixin’ Coke with turpentine?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Wolves: OMG It's Happening After 10 Games

Timing is important in the blog game.  If you want them sweet sweet #hitz you post a lot when a team is riding high.  Get those posts in before any doom and destruction occur.

The Timberwolves have won five (5!) games in a row for the first time since 2009.  They also face the Harlem Globetrotters of the NBA on Wednesday.  The Golden State Warriors are the Globetrotters and all 29 other teams are the Washington Generals.  Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic teams in the NBA this year, but the Warriors are just on another level.

Catharsis through Visualization

Ok, so the last few days have been what we in the blogging business would call "sub-optimal." We lost our QB recruit, then got t-boned by the Fighting Khakis. We cried a little, we yelled a little, we lost some friends and maybe didn't get any new ones. But we're here, it's Tuesday and we have a very winnable game against a team maybe worse than we are. For a trophy even (sort of) as the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy (sort of) makes a comeback (noted parenthetically as neither schools seems to be officially sanctioning it, so five fans in the Maroon Lot may end up making the exchange. A little anticlimactic, but still pretty cool).

Anyway, let's turn those frowns upside down and get ourselves feeling good about the program again. I took a psychology class in high school and I vaguely remember something about visualization being somewhat helpful in effecting positive mood changes. So let's give that a shot and I'm sure we'll all feel better!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Wet Fart Game

Blech. What an unmitigated disaster that game was. Turns out, if you can't run or pass the ball to generate positive yardage - I think we went backwards four series in a row in the second half - and your run D is as solid as a big, white, puffy cloud of meth smoke, you're gonna have a bad time. And oh, did we ever have a bad time.

2017-2018 Gophers - ranked, in order of importance

Was anyone else besides me yelling “OH, FUCK THIS” loudly in the tailgate lots a few hours before our football season even started? If you were, you probably also got the real-time news update that Eric Curry had torn his knee up and would miss the entire season. This was a blow because this year has some nonzero #TITTY potential on the basketball side and because Curry was the only backup big dude who had proven that he was more than a warm body good for 5 illegal screens per game (sup, Bacardi). While I’m still really high on this year’s Gopher squad, we can ill afford more injury or off the field issues if we want to maximize potential. That said, if Gaston Diedhiou were to steal a moped and take the UMPD on a wild goose chase through Dinkytown, it wouldn’t destroy our season quite as much as if Nate Mason came down with another case of old man hip. Here, I attempt to rate this year’s Gopher squad in order of importance to team success (from least to most vital, because suspense!)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

TAW Pod: Michigan Week

If it's Thursday, it's time for TAW Pod. We were mostly a three-headed hydra this week, with Matt piping in from some kid's camp with a quick #RTB. 

Lots of discussion on the Iwoa game and how we basically blew it, some verbal self mutilation related to the quarterback position and a look ahead at what will surely be a win against Michigan.

Enjoy!

Wait Around for the Salty Tears

In December of 2012, an energetic and green young coach named Phillip John Fleck was hired by the University of Western Michigan (/wink)to bring new life to the Broncos football program. Eight months later, on August 30th 2013, Fleck would take the field for the first time as a head football coach.

On that day, in East Lansing, MI, the Broncos fell 26-13 to Michigan State. The following week, the Broncos lost again. This time the game was closer, 27-23, but this time the loss was to the Nicholls State Colonels, a team that had gone 1-11 the previous season, and would end up just 4-8 in 2013… in the FCS.

That evening, on a Collegiate Sports Nation message board focused on Western Michigan athletics called Bronco Stampede, a thread was started:

Subject: Fire Fleck
Someone had to start one of these. Might as well be me.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Culture, the Gophers and the Real World

Culture: the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.

I work for a large company in the Twin Cities. One of the largest in fact. I've been there for about 15 years. Though the industry would typically be seen as old-fashioned and stodgy, I work in a part of the company where I can dress and act pretty much however I want. In the summer, I'll wear t-shirts; in the winter I'll wear baggy jeans and an old flannel which, when combined with a scraggly beard, probably gives people the impression I'm homeless. With the exception of my teammates, the rest of the floor is required to conform to the corporate uniform of business casual. Suckers.

I am not the first person to whom a new employee would be sent for a primer on the company culture. Partly this is by design: I work in research and development and, to some extent, our mandate is to respectfully challenge the status quo; we're supposed to be weirdos (a hat I wear quite well, thank you). Also, I'm a bit of a non-conformist. A rugged individualist, if you will, minus the slightest hint of characteristics that could be deemed "rugged." I see the culture of the company, and appreciate its value to some degree; but I ain't wearing a lapel pin and I sure as Hell ain't committing to memory some value statement thrown together by some human-centered design shop in Palo Alto.

In this, though, I must admit that I am in the minority. Not just at my present employer, but everywhere I've worked. I'm obviously making broad generalizations here, but most people seem to look at their career as a way to achieve some sort of life purpose. They spend most of their waking hours at their jobs and see their time there as a way to make a difference in the world. 

In traditional jobs, say manufacturing or construction, it was pretty easy to look back at the end of a day or a year and see what you did. There was kinship with your co-workers as you collectively worked toward producing some tangible output. There was a physical representation of what you'd done. You and the world could see it.

As we've transitioned to a more service- and skills-oriented economy, the 'proof' of your labor over a period of time was no longer visible. Sitting on conference calls, seeing dozens of patients or flipping burgers was still work; but you had no collectively-assembled artifacts to reflect your time and effort. Thus was born the corporate culture.

There's been a lot written about how corporate cultures affect the performance of employees, so I'll spare you the boring details (you're already, like, a thousand words in and I haven't even mentioned football, you poor saps - talk about bait and switch); but as Millennials have entered the workforce, the notion of a strong, meaningful corporate culture has become all the more prominent. We see things like "value-based," "purpose-driven" and "powering potential." Work today, for most people isn't just a means to an end, a happy retirement full of travel and excitement; work is an end in itself, a way to achieve self actualization and find purpose.

That lengthy screed is more or less to say that culture is important. Depending on a company's message, they will attract a certain type of talent, a certain type of individual. Target hires radically different employees than Cargill, which hires radically different employees than Medtronic - likely because the respective corporate culture resonated with the prospective employee and the company believed the person would be a good fit for the culture. A bad match on either end will likely lead to poor performance, a bad attitude and a short tenure. Not necessarily because the company or the employee did anything wrong; rather, it's a matter of fit. There is no good or bad, generally speaking: only different.

So, finally, let's talk about the Gophs! A ton has been made about the cultural revolution Fleck brought with him. Many saw it as a great thing, given trainghazi and some of the on-field discipline issues that arose last season. Many others saw his framing of the culture change as an indictment on the previous staff. Being the milquetoast blogger that you've all come to know and love, I'll say that it, at its core, was neither.

Kill et al. wanted a certain type of player: a hard-nosed lunch pailer that could handle psychological adversity. These are good things to look for in a football player. To a large extent, I think the Kill regime believed these were traits inherent to the person: they largely were who they were before they got to campus and the coaches would work with them to achieve success on the football field. It was a culture of tenacity and hard work that necessitated the recruitment of a certain type of player to be successful.

I think Fleck's culture is different in that it's more, uh, aspirational, I guess. Not that Kill didn't want to achieve success here; instead it's more about taking something, a recruit in this case, that might have some imperfections and turning him into something more. Fleck's culture doesn't require a wholesale re-write from the Kill regime. It's a nuanced shift that requires a player to be more capable of believing in abstract concepts. Yes, it's about development on the football field and in the classroom; but it's also oriented around the metaphor of overcoming the challenges of life in general. Metaphor wasn't exactly a hallmark of the Kill and Claeys tenure.

I'll wrap up by saying in a lot of cases they may have gone after the same players. Good football players are good football players, after all. But like Target, Cargill and Medtronic, the respective Gopher coaches each looked for prospects that fit the belief systems instilled by their respective cultures. Neither is categorically good or bad. They're just different and, in some cases, require different sorts of people to be successful.

2017-2018 Gophers Basketball: A Season In Review

Greetings, extensive community of SGH! I’m a tailgating buddy with Frothy, Tre, and JD, and the designated slash default basketball mind (read: I’m the one dude in the crew who pays serious attention to the squad), so throughout this season I’ll be providing occasional #Content on our favorite shootyhoops team. We’ll start by previewing the season to come with a bit of a twist.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

So, You've Lost Your QB 50 Days before NSD

Hi, Everyone! Y'all have a good night?

I was in training and mostly away from the 'tronz between six and nine last night and emerged to hear the Gopher program had imploded and we were selling off the stadium for scrap to Chadian brick dealers. After looking into it a bit, I learned that was because we lost a dude who wasn't even on the team yet. That's kind of odd, isn't it?

Yes, losing your quarterback 50-some days before National Signing Day isn't ideal. Some might even say that it's a bit of a Royale Poop with Cheese. But, Jesus in mango habenero sauce, people, it's not the damned end of the world.

QB's Out (Demry's Song)

The following parody is sung to the tune of Billy Joel's "Movin' Up (Anthony's Song)." If you aren't an old an you need a frame of reference, you can find the original song on YouTube.

"QB's Out (Demry's Song)"

Dem-ry plays as at football thrower
Savin’ his good throws for someday
Mama Heather left a note on the door
She said, Demry don’t dare get too comfy
Waitin’ too long will get you sack sack ack ack ack ack ack acked

You oughta know by now (You oughta know by now)

If you don’t throw you will just get sacked
But is that going to get you the money?

But he always takes too much time
He just can’t get the ball out
Demry just speed it up
Or juuuuust throw it out

Just throw it out

Coach PJ Fleck is always upbeat
But today he’d like to go on a bender
He works at Gibson/Nagurski just north of 5th street
Watching the Guards and the Centers
But all he wants is a quarterback back back back back back back back

Which he should have had by now (He should have had by now)

He’s got more than he needs
In a Running Back
With Shannon & Rodney & Kobe

Friday, October 27, 2017

I Want to Win Tomorrow

While the season hasn't been a complete trash panda, it's becoming more difficult for me to look at the remainder of the schedule with much optimism. Of the remaining five games, we'll probably be favored in only one, Nebraska, slight dogs against the Nerds, while being touchdown-plus undies against Michigan, Wisconsin and tomorrow's game against Iowa.

That makes it close to a 50-50 proposition as to whether we'll get bowl eligible. I've always sort of considered that the baseline for an acceptable season. Yeah, I know we should aspire to more blah, blah, blah and I do, which is why I'm glad we canned Claeys and hired Fleck. But, man, those 15 extra practices you get for becoming bowl eligible are important as hell, especially at this point in the program with a new coaching staff and so much youth.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Taken All Wrong Podcast: Iowa Week

In this week's TAWPod, we're able to keep Matt but lose JD to the ether instead, I date myself by making a reference to Gallagher and we discuss whether Kobe is the best running back on the team right now.

Enjoy! 


A Brief History of Kirk Ferentz: President of B1G Coaches

As the longest-tenured currently-serving head coach in the Big Ten, we at Still Got Hope thought you'd appreciate a quick primer on Kirk Ferentz: who he is and how he came to be Iwoa's head football coach for the last 18 seasons. Our Gopher coaches never last that long, after all, so it was with wistful hearts that our crack research team put together this biopic. 

In essence, we wanted to understand how he'd managed to eke out such a successful career at a place as difficult to win as Minnesota. Much of it was what you'd expect - a good football mind, tenacity, a willingness to punt regardless of down, distance and field position - but we found other parts of his journey with the Hawkeyes surprising.

Without further ado, our #Hateweek special, an ode to Kirk Ferentz, President of B1G Coaches for life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Why We Should All Pump The Brakes on Demry Croft

It’s a tale as old as time: the Minnesota fan base calling for a replacement QB.

The old joke is that the most popular player on a Minnesota football team is the backup QB. 

Gopher fans, Viking fans, I’m guessing Minnesota State Mavericks (is that what they’re called?) and UMD Bulldog fans are all about the same in this regard.

Last season we heard constant refrains of wanting to see Demry Croft on the field when Mitch Leidner was performing below standards. And this season, when Connor Rhoda was the lone QB under center for three games as Demry Croft served some sort of suspension, the entire fanbase pined for a change.

And it really doesn’t much matter who the change would bring. Get Demry off of suspension? Great. Seth Green? Bring it on. Tanner Morgan? Sure, why the hell not?!?! Heck, let’s throw Mark Williams out there while we’re at it. 

The screaming for a QB change in 2017 proves two very important things: 
1) The QB cupboard was pretty lacking when Fleck and Company came to Minneapolis.
2) As a fanbase we are NOT big picture thinkers.

But, all the same, halfway through a rainy Michigan State game which saw the Gophers unable to do anything meaningful on offense, sometime between me wishing I had worn rain pants and heading to the beer tent to try to continue the numbing process of my wet derriere, Demry Croft took the ball from Connor Rhoda.

What happened was magical. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Remembering Jojo Garcia

Credit: Carlos Gonzales, Minneapolis Star Tribune
We learned yesterday that former 2016 Gophers football commit Jojo Garcia took his own life on Monday. Jojo was a favorite recruit of many of us fans, as we paired him up with fellow in-state commit Carter Coughlin to form 'CC and Jojo,' a play off the late-90s R&B duet, 'K-Ci and JoJo.' He was a highly-rated defensive tackle, who attended Cretin Durham Hall, East Ridge and Simley. He never wore the Maroon and Gold, as he decommitted shortly after Jerry Kill retired as Minnesota's head coach, later deciding to play for Iowa Western University in Council Bluffs. He was 19.

That he never played for the Gophers does not lessen my sorrow at his death. I didn't know him beyond following his recruitment on the Gopher boards. I was excited to have him on the team, but had no insight into his life off of the football field. Regardless of the connection, though, losing someone to suicide, particularly at such a young age, is a tragedy. It's worthy of a short post highlighting the risks, particularly for young men.

Suicide rates in the U.S. between the ages of 15 to 24 are 11.6 per 100,000, second only to those over the age of 65, which are at 16.6 per 100,000. The risk of suicide is higher for male youth than females. The reasons behind the gender disparity are myriad; but there is a stigma associated with male depression - one of weakness and an inability to control one's own life - that promotes feelings of hopelessness in way that is particularly damaging to the male psyche. 

I say all this to let readers in a state of depression or readers who are friends or family members of someone with depression to know that they are not alone in their situation. That there are resources available from traditional counseling, to medication, to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 - available 24/7). That regardless of how you feel, you are a good person, worthy of love and there is a positive way out of your situation.

I'm available @StillGotHope1 if any of you want to chat at (mostly) any time. We may not know each other IRL, but I am here to help if you need it. That's how I'm choosing to remember Jojo today.

9-Win Season Sets An Attendance Record!!!

There are people in the Gopher fan base who would have you believe that 2016 was the pinnacle of Gopher football, and that the previous coaching staff should have been retained for winning 9 games alone.

The refrain of "DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES THIS TEAM HAS WON 9 GAMES...." has been blasted all over the Gopherwebs. We've talked plenty about the issues with that 9 win season: a historically easy schedule, a team lacking discipline, a team whose academics were declining, recruiting that could cripple the program for years if it wasn't immediately fixed, etc.

Lawdamighty how depressing. Seriously, who knew a 9 win season could be completely joyless?

And that's what football games in 2016 felt like. If you attended a football game at The Bank in 2016, you know that the atmosphere was... lacking. There was no atmosphere. The place was a morgue. It was sad.

One that hasn't been mentioned as much is fan attendance.

Boy, a 9-win season must have really gotten the fans out in droves, right? Imagine the excitement! The thrill! The chance to play for a big time bowl game!

I wish there were a way we could look at a chart that plotted out attendance by game last year. I bet it's just a skyrocket going UP AND TO THE RIGHT!!!!

Oh man, and since that season was so historically significant, I bet it would be fun to look at it in comparison to previous seasons too. I bet the fan engagement was just magical.

WE DID IT!

Phew! Spared from the ignominy of a winless B1G campaign! Things were looking dicey there for a while, and I found my eyes occasionally drifting to the top of TCF Bank Stadium and running some calculations about whether eight stories at 9.8m/s^2 provides a lethal dose of sidewalk. Thanks to THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, though, I can file that nugget of info away for later use, probably the Wisconsin game.

I guess Croft ain't the answer, eh? Dude looked like a back-up dancer for Beyonce, hopping around in the pocket every time he dropped to pass. He seemed so poised against MSU, feeling pressure and escaping to make a solid decision. That was nowhere to be found this week, which was rife with bad decisions and seemingly less confidence in the pocket than Rhoda Boat. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Halfway Point

Apologies for no content yesterday. Occasionally dude's gotta get some work done, since the $0.21 in monthly revenue provided by this site doesn't support my Camo Silver Ice habit. My episode of Intervention will be second only to my buddy Allison, the duster huffer.



Anyway, we're now past the halfway point in the season at 3-3 and totally defeated in conference play. Huzzah! I wasn't expecting a division title or anything this season, but, rightly or wrongly, I figured we'd be, at worst, 6-1 or 5-2 after the first seven, after which shit gets a lot more serious. Losses to both Maryland and a Purdue hadn't really entered the realm of the possible for me, but, such is the life we're married to with this team.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taken All Wrong Podcast: Illinois Week

On this week's Taken All Wrong Podcast, we talk about all the moral victories from the Michigan State game, whether we think Croft is the guy going forward, take some, uh, odd listener questions from the Twitterz and Matt gives us all an experience of what hallucinogenic drugs from the year 2076 will be like.

Enjoy!


The Forever War: Standers v. Sitters/Security

“A frustrating aspect of being a Gopher football season ticket holder is the lack of consistent atmosphere during football games. The student section is rowdy, but the rest of the stadium often sits on their hands and reserves their energy and passion for big 3rd downs in a close game. That is why this past Saturday during the MSU game I was pleasantly surprised to find my section, 105 rows 1 through 15, on their feet, making noise throughout the first quarter. Maybe it was the rain-soaked bleachers driving people to their feet, but fans were great. Then, sometime early in the 2nd quarter, two security officers came down to section 105 and started commanding people sit. When security received pushback from fans the officers said, “People behind you can’t see.” It immediately killed the vibe of the section. Some didn’t listen. Some, including my buddy I was sitting with, left the game in disbelief. Regardless, it killed the atmosphere. Now I understand the person who stands up the entire game for no reason while everyone else is sitting can be annoying, but this was a close game, a lot of people were cheering bringing needed energy to the game and it was muzzled by some crusty fans who couldn’t see. Again, unbelievable.”

I got this note from a reader (it’s always good to know there’s at least one) earlier this week and, while it didn’t surprise me in the least, it made me angry. I’ve written a bit on the game atmosphere, particularly around the fan’s and university’s culpability in how much it sucks. But experiences such as the above will kill any hope of ever establishing the loud, intimidating conditions the team needs to achieve what we all want it to.

2017-18 Timberwolves Preview

Do you know how the google search algorithm works?  Me neither.

How about how it works in the Ukraine? No?  Probably even more complicated though.

Somewhere in the dark recesses of said algorithm there is a search that points Ukrainian Googlers (www.google.com.ua) to one particular post on this blog.  That of course is the Timberwolves 2011-12 preview.  On a blog that is primarily focuses on Gopher football, this post reigns supreme due to our friends overseas.  In fact, looking at the stats there are Ukrainian readers on the site right now.

Since no one reads non-Gopher posts and we no longer have the great Nikola Pekovic, I expect this will be hard to duplicate with this preview.  BTW, don't go back and read that one because I was sooooo wrongly optimistic.  Do read this one, because we are playoff bound, my friends; and it will be a fun ride!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Virus Among Us

Computer viruses are the worst. 

I used to fancy myself kind of a tech nerd. Back in the old days, when most of you were just zygotes, I used to do some programming in BASIC on the old Commodore 64 and was pretty comfortable taking a computer apart and putting it back together again. I knew all the latest hardware and took great joy in embarrassing the Best Buy/Circuit City employees with “WELL, ACTUALLY” when they tried to help my parents find a new computer.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Moral Victories Don't Count, but We're Totally Counting Them

Today, guest poster, f-list Twitter famous guy and Friend of the Blog Matt O'Connell weighs in on how we lost, but didn't really lose, Saturday's game against Michigan State.

Enjoy!
_______

“Take your fucking moral victory and shove it up your fucking ass, you fucking fucker”- Long time BYU head coach LaVell Edwards


Like Edwards, P.J. Fleck does not believe in moral victories, he made that clear with Gaardsie in the postgame interview.  While I row the boat, I also have a Nekton mentality which means sometimes you have to go your own way, go your own wayyy. ($1 to Fleetwood Mac).  I don’t love the idea of the moral victory, but when you are deep in Year Zero and dealing with lots of youth, inexperience, and injuries you need those bench marks become important. 

This One's For Progress

As a fan, it’s easy to look at a game like Michigan State and be frustrated. We played three quarters of absolute shit football. We waited through a weather delay before the game even started. A cold rain fell the whole time, and the wind was sharp. It was enough to make even the most passionate of diehards leave early. But you know what? I had FUN. As I was sitting there at halftime shivering and looking out over the stadium, I took a few moments to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. This post is not for the naysayers, the people who sullenly refuse to Row The Boat, or the negative nellies screaming about PJ Fleck’s salary. This post is for the fans who understand how progress works and believe we’re making it.

Two Minute Hope: BJ from Northeast

Pete from St. Louis County seems to have touched a nerve with a few of our six readers. I got a lot of feedback from people who either thought he was a crackpot or that I needed to adopt more of his perspective on the site or just shut it down.

One of the more, uh, fanatical responses I got was from reader 'BJ from Northeast' (unsure if that's Northeast Minneapolis, Northeast Minnesota or what). He goes at Pete pretty hard on his attacks on Fleck/support of Claeys. 

It gets a little political so, please, readers/listeners: let's stick to Gopher sports on here going forward, like all the other Gopher sites.

Enjoy!

LISTEN HERE

Sunday, October 15, 2017

1/1/20

We'll get to yesterday's game in a few pieces later this week. Given the fact we're currently the opposite of undefeated in conference play, though, I thought it might be fun to talk a little bit about what the kids are now calling #2019itty.

I try to savor every day during college football season, particularly Gopher games. Further, I've spent my entire life pining after next season once the current season implodes - so I recognize looking two full seasons ahead might be a bridge of escapism too far. In fact, I completely agree with that assessment. It's totally absurd.

BUT HAVE YOU SEEN THAT SCHEDULE?! Holy shit, people.

Friday, October 13, 2017

You Too Can Row The Boat!

If you follow me on Twitter or have heard the Taken All Wrong podcast, you know that I’m currently preaching patience with the Gophers.

Of course, I’m not thrilled to have to trudge through a season that looks like it could cause cirrhosis of the liver, and as a fan base we’ve certainly endured more than our fair share of rebuilds. But for once in our lives, the University of Minnesota made a commitment to football by going out and getting, arguably, the hottest up and coming coach they could get.

Fine, you liked Coach Claeys and you don’t think he did anything wrong and OMG 9-WINS RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE. The previous staff did a great job cleaning up the program, but like the Russians and the Miracle On Ice, their time is over.

Is PJ Fleck going to be a success at Minnesota? I can’t say for sure, but he’s got a better shot to do something #special as a Gopher head coach than any of the other available options when he was hired last January.

I’ve said plenty about why I think you should be patient and join in Rowing The Boat, and I’ve given some specific examples of when I have enjoyed rowing the boat. Today I’d like to talk in broader terms.
So here are some practical ways you can Row The Boat.

Keep Going to Games: Some out there believe that Fleck makes a practice of sacrificing upperclassmen in favor of playing younger players so that they can gain experience. In the internet age you can find something to support any trumped-up theory you’ve come up with, and this one is the “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” of Gopher football theories. Frothy has already proven it incorrect.

Having said that, there are players on this team that have put in a lot of hard work, and this season isn’t going to be what any of them hoped for. So this is your chance to do something for them. Row The Boat to a game. Cheer your ass off. Enjoy yourself and your friends. Make them know they are appreciated and that their contributions to this program have not gone unnoticed.

Encourage Others to Row The Boat: If you do go to a game, encourage those around you to cheer. If you’re at a bar, tell the next table over you’ll buy a round if they cheer. Be contagious. If someone behind you asks you to sit down, turn around and Row The Boat in their face. Be nothing but optimistic. Remember how your elementary school counselor told you not to hold in your bad feelings? SCREW MRS. ASHBY and her orthopedic shoes!

If you’re feeling bad about what’s going on with the Gophers you keep that shit to yourself. Now is not the time. Act out with encouragement. I’m talking to the point that it’s sickening. Sell the program! These people are either going to Row The Boat with you or they are going to want to beat you with an oar. Pay them no mind. Our purpose is in the future. Plus the Gold Coats won’t let oars in the stadium anyway.

Fervor Fridays: Most offices in 2017 allow casual dress, or at least they allow it on Fridays. I’m calling for Fervor Fridays. Yes, it’s important to wear your colors to the stadium and the pub when you are watching games, but Friday is YOUR game day Gopher fan! Row The Boat by wearing Gopher gear to your office. Unleash a plethora of Maroon & Gold. Emblazon your desk with Goldy bobble-heads, Gopher pennants and small oars. Let there be no doubt which team you support, even if the seas are a little rough this year.


Listen, as a Gopher fan, your expectation is that the coaching staff never gives up and that the players never back down. That they attack every challenge with a NEKTON mentality and they keep fighting no matter what.

How about you quit acting like a sniveling snowflake, step up to the plate, and do the same?

If you’re like me, you didn’t pick this team, this team picked you. If you aren’t spending this time hoping and fighting for the best for the future of this program, then buddy, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

As for me and my house, we will Row The Boat.

Two Minute Hope: Pete from St. Louis County

On today's Two Minute Hope, we do something a little different and hear from one of our readers, in this case Pete from St. Louis County. Pete is, as you'll hear, an ardent Claeys supporter who takes me to task for my support of PJ Fleck.

We're always happy to listen to and post content from our six readers. Even those who accuse our head coach of treating our players as wage slaves and blame me for the decline of Western civilization.

Enjoy.

LISTEN HERE


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Barren Womb: An Oral History of Golden Gopher Recruiting in Writing

Have you ever really taken a look at Gopher recruiting over the last ten years? Like, really looked at it? I hadn't either until a friend pointed out some information to me that was like whatever the opposite of looking into the face of God is. Probably Nazi dude's face being melted by the Arc of the Covenant in 'Raiders of the Lost Arc' or any scene from the original 'Evil Dead.' Was very, very undank.

I'm not going to go class by class, because that would take forever; rather I'll be looking at the top 25 commits the Gophers have had in the Internet recruiting era and assessing their impact to the program. All data is from 247, so if you hate them, piss off. 

Let's begin!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gmailcast: Michigan State

Because sometimes you can't work out your schedules to do a podcast or you're already on a podcast and can't be bothered to do another one or you're desperate for content and email with your buddies anyway, today SGH introduces the first ever Gmailcast.

Here, @tretanic, @jdmill and I spend eight hours discussing the impending doom that is the Michigan State game. It predictably goes off the rails, hi-jinks ensure and, voila, #CONTENT. 

Enjoy....

@stillgothope1
9:42 AM (9 hours ago)
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to @jdmill, @tretanic
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Not feeling great about the game this weekend. Hoping Sparty has dysentery or something that almost but not quite kills them on the Oregon Trail. What do you guys think?

@jdmill
10:10 AM (9 hours ago)
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to me, @tretanic
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I'm trying to keep my expectations incredibly low. In fact, I might be forming a narrative in my head where WE are the ones who have contracted dysentery. Creating a scenario where we have absolutely no chance to win might be a good mechanism to spare my psyche.

But honestly, I'm terrified. With Sparty's D-Line, this game sets up as almost a worst case scenario because our run game is the only thing our offense has going for it. So yeah, I am something less than optimistic.

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@tretanic
10:13 AM (9 hours ago)
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to @stillgothope1, @jdmill
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Last night I was wondering what to have for dinner.  Living by myself, I'm not the best at "meal planning" or even "buying groceries" so often I'm left digging through the dregs of my kitchen.  Things like frozen meals, ramen, brinner (it's breakfast for dinner!) or putting in a lot of work making pasta or Rice a Roni or some shit we're some of the choices available to me.  I had ramen the night prior though, spicy!  My body is my temple.

So, what generally happens is I go out to eat or pick something up.  Last night I had some lovely Kung Pao chicken with steamed rice.  Shout out to Duc's in Woodbury.

Fleck's problem is he can't go out and get some delicious Asian delights from Duc's.  He has to dig through the cupboards and make it work.  Some of the items in the cupboard don't fit together, some are past their due date and should be thrown out.  

One thing I have to question about Fleck's cooking is that our Gophers did not look ready to play last week at Purdue.  They seemed tentative, they made mistakes early, and it just seemed to take awhile to get in the flow of the game.  You can't have ramen straight out of the package, too crunchy; you need some hella hot water to get them noodles ready.

Will the Gophers win? No, probably not.
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@stillgothope1
10:34 AM (8 hours ago)
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to @tretanic, @jdmill
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Good point about the food and I really enjoyed that analogy. I've been eating whole wheat  tortillas with peanut butter on them every weeknight for the last ten days. It fulfils a need for calories, but is otherwise totally unsatisfying. That feels a lot like our offense: we run some plays like we're required by the rules to do, but it's otherwise totally unremarkable.

Maybe us having dysentery would be better than Sparty a) because it's a super excuse for getting murderballed and b) because they'll likely be wearing white pants and would show the poo stains more than our maroon pants. I'm really here to preserve Sparty's dignity. I hope they do the same for us.

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@jdmill
10:59 AM (8 hours ago)
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to @stillgothope1, @tretanic
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So I guess this has become a thing where we compare Gopher stuff to food. I'll bite. /winks

Not long after I got married, my wife cooked a meal that could best be described as "burnt." But being the new husband that I was, aspiring to be elite, I ate it anyway. I even lied to my wife about how much I was enjoying it while I ingested carcinogens the likes of which my body hadn't seen since smoking was banned in bars in Minnesota.

Anyway, something something, Gopher secondary. It's not the secondary we want, but it's the secondary we have and DAMMIT ALL we should figure out a way to enjoy it, but not feel bad about sneaking some Doritos before bed.
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@tretanic
11:54 AM (7 hours ago)
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to @jdmill, @stillgothope1
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Doritos really are the perfect food type product.  Except for Cool Ranch, throw that stuff right in the trash.

I didn't mean for this to be an all food analogy email string, you guys.  The shtick found me, I didn't seek it out.  

Any chance MSU QB Brian Lewerke is allergic to yellowjackets? Maybe stick a few nests in the heated faux turf like little land mines?  Can't hurt to help put some pressure on him since the Gophers have like two defensive backs left.
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@stillgothope1
12:09 PM (7 hours ago)
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to @tretanic, @jdmill
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Hell, let's throw the whole collection of potential causes of anaphylaxis at them: latex, peanuts, penicillin. We should also feed them aged cheddar cheese and pork liver in the event one of their key players is on an MAO inhibitor. I don't want anyone to die, but a massive and dangerous allergic reaction or hypertensive crisis would really help the team out. 

Sparty's defensive line gives me hot flashes and night sweats. Outside of attempted mass murder, is there any way we can move the ball against them? Our offensive line hasn't exactly inspired much hope.

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@jdmill
2:50 PM (4 hours ago)
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to @stillgothope1, @tretanic
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We rank 97th in Total Offense and Sparty ranks 4th in Total Defense. Immovable object meet stoppable force. Our best hope is that our defense can figure out a way to give our offense short fields. Then again, we saw how well that worked last week. 

I can't decide if this conversation is helping me or making it worse. With each tidbit I become less and less convinced we can keep it close. Lawdamighty please Peejus tell me Ciarrocca has something new this week.
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@stillgothope1
3:38 PM (3 hours ago)
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to @jdmill, @tretanic
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Look, I've given you all sorts of possibilities regarding generating some offense against MSU. Yes, one was making them run the gauntlet on allergens, ine was dysentery  and another required them to be on an antiquated antidepressant; but it's in those things, those that bring our opponents to the edge of their lives, that our hope lives. I'll concede it's a sociopathic hope that doesn't conform to Minnesota's fan conduct policy. Yet hope it is. 

If you're unwilling to accept that, well, our next best option is they come in all high on life from pantsing their big brother and completely overlook us. Is that going to happen? Depends on how many quaaludes you've had, I guess. I think we're cooked, but maybe something completely fantastical will happen. 
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@jdmill
4:16 PM (3 hours ago)
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to @stillgothope1, @tretanic
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Something fantastical ya say? Something like a sudden bout of conscience? A sudden bout of conscience by an MSU coach? An MSU coach who happens to be a Defensive Coordinator? A Defensive Coordinator who happens to be from... SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA?!?! 

Maybe Mark Tressel is suddenly longing for home. He feels awful for his part in building a defense that has been instrumental in beating his home state Gophers four times in row. He must do something. He has to help the Gophers. He must sabotage the Spartans. But how? And time is of the essence. He has only three days.

He approaches Mark Dantonio.

MT: Coach, I've got some thoughts on the game plan this week. 
MD: Game plan is cooked, Mark. Let's make sure those boys are ready.
MT: But coach, isn't it time to send a statement? A statement that we are back?
MD: Go on...
MT: What are we known for coach? Defense. 
MD: Of course, but what does that...
MT: We've done it for years. Doesn't matter the personnel we throw out there. 
MD: Okay, but...
MT: LET'S BENCH ALL OF THE DEFENSIVE STARTERS!
MD: I, uh...
MT: There is no greater statement to send to the haterz than putting a bunch of noobs out there, throwing our middle fingers in the air and screaming "COME AT ME GOPHS!!!"
MD: Sweet sassy molassy... I LOVE IT! Green-light it!
/scene

I mean, it's as plausible as team wide anaphylactic shock. 
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@jdmill
4:19 PM (2 hours ago)
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to @stillgothope1, @tretanic
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Edit: his name is Mike Tressel
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@tretanic
4:20 PM (2 hours ago)
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to @jdmill, @stillgothope1
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I think y'all got into the antifreeze.  You sharing?