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Friday, September 29, 2006

Know Your Foe - Minnesota

Saturday night, two U of Ms will clash as the undefeated Michigan Wolverines travel to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Gophers beat Michigan last year for the first time since 1986, so revenge will be on the minds of the Wolverines for the third straight week. Thus, the MZone hereby presents another installment of its critically acclaimed series, KNOW YOUR FOE.

History – Founded in 1851, the original campus overlooked the Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River (yes, the Mississippi divides the Twin Cities), but it was later moved about a mile to its current location. During the Civil War, the school shut down following a financial crisis and didn't reopen until 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869. There was no graduating class until 1873 when two students received their diplomas (and you just know the valedictorian never let his classmate forget who was the "dumb one" in the class of '73).

Location – The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Yes, there is a campus in each city, kind of like North Campus and Central Campus in Ann Arbor (they even have their version of the Bursley Bus connecting the two). Though the winters in Minnesota last about 11 ½ months, the Twin Cities are actually a fun place. There’s a legacy of great music – Prince, The Replacements, Husker Du, Tapes N Tapes - and I once heard from a girl I once talked to that it’s a great place to shop. Mary Tyler Moore lived there, too. And of course, since this is Know Your Foe, we have to mention lakes. Notre Dame has two on campus, so does Wisconsin. But Minnesota kicks both of their asses – they have 10,000 lakes on campus in the state.

Nickname – Golden Gophers. This is the second straight week that Michigan will be taking on an opponent with a cute mascot (I guess that’s their reward for kicking that ugly leprechaun’s ass). Goldy the Gopher is also quite athletic as evidenced by the photo below. Although, with such a fine dental school on campus, don't you think he’d get those teeth fixed by now?


Colors/Logo/Cheers –Maroon and Gold. But take a look at those uniforms – is that really gold? I’d call it yellow. They used to be gold but, since their uniforms look so much like USC, perhaps they should consider going back to the more metallic color. For a while they were changing their helmets every few years, but they’ve stuck with their current version since ’99. Maybe that's because they've been to six bowls since they moved to their current helmet, which is more than half of the bowls for the program.

They use Goldy the Gopher a lot as a logo but - on their helmets - they have that funky M with those weird serifs on them. They’ve used some version of it on their headgear since at least 1968. They haven’t given in to the temptation to modernize it and have it move forward like Wisconsin and Purdue. Of course those teams have been to a few Rose Bowls since 1962.

The Minnesota Rouser is a very underrated fight song, though it sounds like a porno movie – from 1955. I guarantee you've heard it and you might have even hummed it to yourself without even knowing whose fight song it was.

Academics – The University of Minnesota has the second largest student body in the US, with 51,175 students, behind only Arizona State. What is it with these huge maroon and gold schools? U.S. News and World Report ranks the Minnesota 67th. That is tied with the University of Delaware. The pride of the University is the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute which ranks among the top 15 professional schools of public affairs at public universities in the country. You see his name a lot in this Know Your Foe. That’s because you see his name a lot in Minnesota. He’s bigger than Paul Bunyan there.

Stadium/Fans One of the worst stadiums in college football (with only the Orange Bowl being worse because you're likely to get stabbed getting to your car after the game there) is The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Metrodome is off campus, it’s sterile and it used to have that horrible turf. Despite it being a dome, the stadium doesn’t help generate much noise and enthusiasm for Gophers games. Sure, it's loud when the Vikings are winning, or when the Twins are in the playoffs, but not for Gopher football. It’s the only venue that’s hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four (with Michigan losing in the finals, 1992), and a World Series. But as far as college football goes, it’s mostly known for hosting some horrifying collapses by the home team– to Michigan in 2003, and to Wisconsin last year. As a matter of fact, the most memorable clip from the Gophers playing in the Metrodome is probably from 2002 when Iowa fans tore down the goalposts after clinching a co-Big Ten title. That has to be the most embarrassing moment for the University, other than when Brenda Walsh left after only a couple weeks of being there in season four of Beverly Hills 90210.

Athletics – If it weren't for hockey - and their football team from over 50 years ago - the sports tradition at Minnesota would be pretty lame. The basketball team has been to only one Final Four (and they had to cheat to get there). But Williams Arena is one of the more unique places to play with those sunken benches. How no one gets hurt diving for a ball, I don’t know. Plus it forced former head coach Clem Haskins to sit on a bar stool, which was kind of cool.

Famous alums – I have to say I was more impressed with this list than I thought I'd be. From B-list TV actors (Loni Anderson, John Astin, Peter Graves, and Kate Mulgrew) to Robert Gore, the inventor of Gore-Tex (of course) to two vice presidents (and presidential election losers) Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale. But doesn't that sum up the Gophers? Good but not great. They get to a certain level but not to the top. Just like their football team.

The Game – This isn’t as close as the past few Michigan-Minnesota tussles. The Wolverines get out to an early lead and hold the Gophers down. KNOW YOUR FOE prediction: Michigan 31, Minnesota 10.

11 comments:

Galen said...

Benny,
I hope that Beverly Hills 90210 reference was from a significant other, or I'm going to be a tad worried.

IC said...

Hold on there, Galen. I see nothing--NOTHING--wrong with Benny referencing Brenda Walsh in another awesome "Know Your Foe." The fact that he included that photo only supports my point.

Benny, I do have one correction and a question (then I'll hang up and listen for your answer.)

* The Orange Bowl isn't the worst college football venue because fans are likely to get stabbed on their way back to their car after the game. It is the worst college football venue because fans are likely to get stabbled walking from their car on their way to the game.

* Which is your favorite Goldy? Initially I thought "Hanging Out Goldy," but after looking at him for a little while he started to seem full of himself and probably really obnoxious if he's had a few beers. So I'm going with "Hockey Goldy."

richard cranium said...

Completely off topic but Daily Show did an investigative report on Carl Monday, everyone's favorite masterbater baiter. Jason Jones was the investigative reporter for the daily show. It was to say the least hilarious!!!!!

Andy said...

Most famous athlete: Baseball HOFer Dave Winfield was drafted in 3 professional sports.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Goldy look like that guy on the erectile dysfunction commercials- the one where the guy has a bigger golf club, he dives in the pool and his shorts fall off... etc.

beast in 'bama said...

The university would probably like it better if we preferred Hockey Goldy, but I'm partial to Hoops Goldy myself.

He's blocking with his off hand to suit the rugged, physical style of the Big 10/11, but he's also quick enough to get the corner, slide down the baseline, draw the defender and then dish to Post Goldy in the paint.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, but I have been making a habit of checking out this site. I love it. "Know Your Foe" is one of the best, and most irreverant, somewhat-prediction articles on the Web.
I can't wait to see what you guys have to say about my favorite team.

PS - all the Goldy's are a little creepy, but it's better than the too small "M" that the Gophers have on the helmets.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but did anyone see the Carl Monday special on Comedy Central's The Daily Show?

Titled "You jackin' it?"

Hilarious...made me think of yall

Anonymous said...

as a wolverine living in St. Paul, I think you give gopher athletics short shrift

they routinely kick ass in a wide variety of second tier mens and womens sports (wrestling, baseball, swimming and diving, golf, gymnastics, etc. etc.)

true story, moved here during the fab 5 era and watched them lose in the barn. guy behind me says something really inoffensive after the game to the effect of "not so fab today" to which i replied something equally innocuous like "maybe get em next time.

a minute later on the stairs heading out his conscience must have been bothering him about his over the top midwestern "smack" because he taps me on the shoulder to tell me he wasn't trying to rub it in and hoped I had a good time

minneosta nice indeed

Firefly's Running said...

Correction: The Gophers have fine sports team. They are not perfect - like you guys think your team is. :) Plus we would wrestle your ass too.

Plus we have Kevin McCale and Dave Winfield who are proud alums.

Plus we have kick-ass music here.

No, Goldy does NOT keep any dental assistance - thank you!

mhentz said...

What about the other band from Minneapolis, Soul Asylum?