Let me preface this post by saying I was rejected by the University of Minnesota. I was the over-involved high school student who thought a litany of extracurriculars would compensate for a slacktastic GPA. I ended up attending Minnesota State University Mankato and I’ve been holding a grudge against the maroon and gold for eight years strong.
That said, I still wish they would’ve let me in. That’s why I wore a Gophers t-shirt and temporary tattoos (for like 14 minutes) while tailgating at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. My girlfriend and I had intended to see the game — Minnesota vs. South Dakota — but chose to watch the game from a bar neighboring the stadium.
Famously, the Gophers lost to the Coyotes, a I-AA team that just might be the second-best in South Dakota. I played high school football with guys who turned their nose up to USD, yet it was Vermillion’s own who won 41-38. Before halftime, the temporary tattoos were long gone and my shirt was inside out. I was the obnoxious guy at the bar who cheered a little too loud for the opposing team. Luckily, Gophers fans have a firm grip on reality and I managed to avoid any haymakers.
Minnesota is a fine institution, but sort of like that friend you love to see fail. The team, especially coach Tim Brewster, has been lynched by the local media and fan base for what’s got to be the most embarrassing loss in team history. Darren “Doogie” Wolfson, in his blog for the Star Tribune, wrote:
When your players skip out on “Hail Minnesota” at the end of the game; when the TCF Bank Stadium crowd for three straight appearances — remember the vitriol from the Illinois & South Dakota State games — turns extremely ugly on the coach and the program; when some of Brewster’s biggest supporters on the local rivals.com site and gopherhole.com turn on him; when it’s hard to figure out if the team is any better today compared to when Brewster took over; when Brewster said the program was “light-years” ahead of when he took it over; and when Brewster called this his most athletic team to date, it’s time for a change.
Off-the-field incidents? They can be sort-of excused. Recruiting violations? The same. But a loss to South Dakota is inexcusable.
Here’s the thing. Many argue sports media are too hard on college athletes. They are, after all, young men who are bound to make mistakes. When they win, however, college athletes are steeped in praise, showered in rewards, honored like humanitarians or noblemen. When they win, we treat them less like college athletes and more like heroes and saints.
What keeps the scale from tipping? Criticism. Bold, harsh, relentless criticism. That’s why I don’t feel bad for Minnesota, Brewster, athletic director Joel Maturi or the team. Sooner or later, the program will be back in the Top 25. For now, they hardly seem worthy of their new $500 million stadium, let alone a healthy chunk of the West Bank that might better serve as parking lot. For now, Minnesota is like a drunken Goliath, and the USDavids have no problem taking them down a notch.
So, even though I put on my Gophers shirt Saturday morning and pretended I had some attachment/connection the school, the reality is I couldn’t have been happier to see them lose. I’m sure there’s hundreds of Minnesota rejects who feel the same way.