Final Four to Shutout U Baseball Games
A Sunday notes column leading off with news about Gophers baseball.
John Anderson thought he had 14 home indoor baseball games scheduled for his Gophers in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium, but his team will be shutout. Anderson, in his 37th year at Minnesota, is scrambling now to schedule away games in warm places in February and March of 2019 after recently being told preparations for the NCAA Final Four basketball games will take over the downtown stadium.
Anderson worked with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to set up his 2019 schedule, but the NCAA has now decided it is necessary to start staging U.S. Bank Stadium for basketball several weeks in advance of the Final Four dates of April 6-8. The change will mean no amateur baseball, not just for the Gophers but other college and high school teams, in the winter of 2019. “It’s really disappointing,” Anderson told Sports Headliners.
Anderson understands the importance and magnitude of the Final Four but wishes he would have known long ago the Gophers couldn’t use the indoor stadium in 2019. He won’t be able to reschedule all 14 games for his Gophers, and also empathizes with the teams that thought they were coming to Minneapolis but now must find other places to play on relatively short notice.
Anderson, long respected in the community for his coaching and integrity, feels bad that he recruited players with the sales pitch that they would be playing indoor baseball in 2019. This past winter the Gophers played for the first time in U.S. Bank Stadium and have 10 games scheduled in the impressive facility in 2018 from February 27-March 11.
A schedule highlight next year at U.S. Bank Stadium is the DQ Classic Tournament with Arizona, Washington, UCLA and the Gophers March 2-4.
For passionate Golden Gophers football fans with long ago and painful memories, yesterday’s 54-21 drubbing of the Cornhuskers was a sweet afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Although Minnesota has now won three of the last five games against Nebraska, the Gophers’ other two wins were by a total of 15 points. Yesterday was Gopher revenge for a string of 16 losses from 1963-1990, nearly all of them lop-sided scores favoring Big Red.
As recently as 1989 and 1990 the Cornhuskers beat Minnesota 48-0 in Minneapolis and 56-0 in Lincoln. If you’re counting, that is 104-0 in two games.
Following yesterday’s win those Gopher fans with nightmare memories might have read and enjoyed the words of Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel who described the outcome “as perhaps the lowest point in the last 65 years of Nebraska football.”
Fall rumors have swirled about the possible dismissal of Nebraska head coach Mike Riley. His players looked dispirited yesterday and speculation is Riley, one of football’s nicest coaches, could unfortunately lose his job this week—perhaps even today. Bo Pelini, Riley’s predecessor, was terminated soon after Minnesota defeated Nebraska in late November of 2014.
Bad omen? Cheatsheetwarroom.com points out the Vikings are 1-4 in the last five years coming out of their bye weeks. The Vikings haven’t played a game since October 29 and are in Landover, Maryland today to face the Redskins. Coming out of their bye last year, the Vikings lost to the Eagles and went on a four-game losing streak.
The Cheat Sheet website also reports the Vikings are 3-1 in their last four games versus teams coming off their byes. Included is a 26-20 loss last year to the Redskins in Landover.
Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber predicted to Sports Headliners it won’t be easy today against the Redskins, but Minnesota will win 24-17.
After the first eight games of the 16-game schedule, the 6-2 Vikings rank fourth in the NFL in yards given up per game, 282.1. How does head coach Mike Zimmer assess the defense so far and what can the unit do better in the second half?
“I’ve already made assessments from last bye week,” Zimmer said. “We’re just trying to get better each week. We’re not going to talk about first half of the season. We’re just going to start moving forward here.”
The Vikings have three quarterbacks who are free agents next year, and the 2018 NFL college draft will likely feature at least four quarterbacks taken in the first round—Josh Allen, Wyoming; Sam Darnold, USC; Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; and Josh Rosen, UCLA.
It was almost exactly 30 years ago that Darrell Thompson made his famous 98-yard touchdown run in the Metrodome against Michigan. Thompson’s run on November 7, 1987 still is the longest run ever from scrimmage by a Golden Gopher.
Here’s a note from the “we already knew that” department. The November 23 issue of Sports Illustrated includes a feature on Badger football that says, “No program is better at mining and developing the talent in its state.”
Newspaper columnist and radio talk show host Patrick Reusse will be roasted by the Minnesota Minutemen at a January 26 luncheon at Mancini’s in St. Paul. Known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Minnesota sports, Reusse is a 1963 graduate of Fulda High School. Local funnyman Dick Jonckowski will emcee the roast.
Twins baseball bosses Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were hired about a year ago. After assessing the organization for 12 months it wouldn’t be surprising if they were active this offseason in player acquisition moves.
Selection committee members for the prep Mr. Football Award met Saturday to narrow the field of finalists to 11 seniors from Minnesota high schools. The breakfast announcing the 2017 winner will be held December 10 at the DoubleTree Hotel in St. Louis Park.
The annual state high school all-star football game, known now as the Minnesota Football Showcase, will start at 3 p.m. December 9 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Only seniors are selected for the game, and more information is available at Vikings.com/showcase.
The Mr. Football Award and all-star game are among the ongoing events and activities of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association, an organization of dedicated supporters and promoters of amateur football in the state.