Thursday, June 11, 2009

Matt Hayes HATES the Gophers

Actually that's not true at all. Hayes is an excellent college football writer for the Sporting News, and I doubt he loves or hates or has any emotional attachment either way with Golden Gopher football. In his latest article on the sporting news website about five college football teams in line for a decline in 09 (Hayes is a pro because he can come up with fancy rhyming headlines!) he lists your Minnesota Golden Gophers football team as one of those teams headed for a decline, believing they're going to win three less games than last year- from 7 in 2008 down to just 4 for 2009!

Do I agree with Hayes' prediction for the Gophs? Of course not. Do I think he hates them and is a "Gopher Hater"? Of course not. Perhaps we'd get more traffic for this blog if Jer and I ranted and raved and called Hayes and any other national media person who has the audacity to not pick the Gophers to win the national title AND Big Ten title AND call them nothing short of the greatest program in the history of the universe a "Hater" and an idiot and having Non-Big-Ten-Bias and everything else under the sun.

But personally, that's one of my least favorite, or most hated if you will (and I will), things about the internet/24 news and sports channel cycle we currently live in- there is no such thing as perspective anymore. Everything is about extremes. Everything that happens either has to be the best or worst thing that has ever happened in the history of humanity. Every media member either loves or hates a team or player. If an anaylst or writer says one bad thing about your team or school- even if it's TRUE- then that person is automatically a "Hater" and an "Idiot" and a bunch of other things that aren't fit for print. It seems like according to the over-reacters, every team is either overexposed and gets too much attention (in the case of the Red Sox, Yankees, Cowboys, Notre Dame and anything Brett Favre does or doesn't do I'd say it's true) or gets no love/respect/attention. HATERS! HATERS! HATERS!

Well I hate the people who hate the haters! Got it? That's who I hate! God forbid we have a little perspective on things these days, and actually look at things rationally. Maybe that should be our new blog slogan: "Staying rational in an irrational world"

Except if you've read us at all or are one of the seven people who have listened to the podcast, you know we're not exactly rational about our Golden Gophers. But more so about our team than most are about theirs. At least I hope so.

ANYWAY, I bring up Hayes' prediction not only because it gave me the chance to get on my soapbox (I'm stepping off now), but just to show how little the national media, and even those around the Big Ten, think of Coach Tim Brewster and your 2009 Golden Gopher football team. And I'm not saying they're necessarily wrong. The Gophers fell apart down the stretch last year, and their schedule this season is brutal- I'm just saying that despite the good work Brewster has done in his two seasons on campus so far, this program is still flying way, way, WAY under the radar nationally. And personally I think that's a good thing.

Jer's been one of those people who has said and will continue saying that the 2009 Gophers should be better than the 2008 team, yet might not have a better record to show for it because of how much tougher the schedule is this year. And I can't help but agree. I'm still downright giddy about this year after the spring game experience, my man crush on MarQueis, the incoming freshmen like Heyo Carpenter and Michael Carter, all the returning talent he have coming back and everything else, but there's no doubt getting back to seven wins is going to be tough sledding. I'm sure Hayes probably thinks Brewster is doing a good job here, but just look at the schedule:

- Penn State and Michigan State- two teams ranked in every preseason Top 25 prediction I've seen- are back on the schedule, and conference road games include trips to Happy Valley, Ohio State and Iowa, which only happen to be the three toughest places to play in the Big Ten right now.

- While I love- repeat LOVE- Brewster's commitment to tougher non-conference scheduling, that also means the Maroon & Gold are no longer guaranteed four victories OOC. I like the Gophers chances to beat Syracuse on the road and Air Force and SDSU at home, but those first two certainly aren't gimmes (although if they can't beat Syracuse, who just cut 14 scholarship players from last year!!!, then we'll be lucky to hit Hayes prediction of 4 wins), and the home game against California will be a (Golden) "Bear" (ohhh see what I did there? See it? Fine don't laugh! HATERS! My total, obvious and undeniable genius is lost on you people!! HATERS I SAY!).

So if we give Minnesota three of four OOC wins, that still means we have to find four Big Ten victories to equal last season's win total of seven, and that is not easy to see. Indiana and Michigan are off the schedule, which means Purdue at home October 10th is the only gimme game I can see. The Gophs SHOULD win at Northwestern (speaking of hatred have I mentioned lately how much I hate Mike Kafka and Northwestern after their upset last year? Have I? A 59-0 Gopher win in Evansville STILL won't erase the bad taste in my mouth from last year's game, but it would sure help) which gets them to five wins, but we still need to find two more wins coming from home games against Wisconsin (Oct 3), Michigan State (Halloween!!!) and Illinois (November 7), and the previously mentioned roadies against the JoePa's (Oct 17), Sweatervests (Oct 24), and Jail Birds (Nov 21).

That, folks, is not easy sledding, and you can see why Hayes and every other preseason publication and prognosticator I've seen or read predicts the Gophs no better than 8th in the Big Ten this year.

Of course we Gopher fans know better (or at least hope better!), but as you can see, if the Gophers can get back to seven wins this year, it'll be so much more impressive than last season's seven wins were. And it'll give us the chance to point at those would be pundits and so-called experts and say "Haters! Haters! Haters! You never believed in our team! How do you like us NOW?" Or not. I think it's good for the program that its flying under the national radar because Brew can build this thing right without the national spotlight and unrealistic expectations. If the Gophs get back to seven wins or better they'll be a great story in 2009- if they're below that, then hey they're exactly where the experts thought they'd be, and while it would look like a step back, barring an 1-11 or 2-12 nightmare, Brewster will still be taking this program in the right direction with better things ahead.

Personally I think anything less than six wins and a bowl trip would be disappointing in Brew's third year, but as long as they're playing hard and competitive, I suppose I won't complain too much. That doesn't make ME a Hater does it? DOES IT?

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