Low Expectations for U Opening Foe
The UNLV team the Gophers open the season against on August 30 is predicted to finish ninth in the 10-team Mountain West Conference, according to a poll of media who cover the league’s football teams.
The Gophers’ second opponent, New Hampshire, will be a fourth place team in the 11-team Colonial Athletic Association, according to a poll of media and coaches. Reporters covering the Mid-American Conference predict Western Michigan will finish third in the six-team West Division. The Broncos are the third team on the Gophers nonconference schedule that concludes against Syracuse, a team that is forecast by the media to place seventh in the eight-team Big East. (All polls referenced here were announced last week or this week.)
UNLV has been 2-10 and 2-11 in two seasons under third-year coach Bobby Hauck. The Rebels have finished 2-6 and 1-6 in conference standings. Mountain West media, who picked Boise State to win the league title, didn’t include any UNLV players on the 25-player preseason all-conference team.
Asked about the predicted low finish for the Rebels, Gophers coach Jerry Kill said: “I can’t control the people that we play. I can control what we do and I am more concerned about the Gophers and us getting started and getting ready to play UNLV.”
Kill has known and respected Hauck for years. Hauck was a national championship coach at Montana before taking the UNLV job.
The Gophers are in no position to disregard UNLV when the teams play in Las Vegas, or the next three nonconference teams — all of whom come to TCF Bank Stadium. Big Ten media predict a last place finish for the Gophers in the Legends Division after Minnesota was 3-9 overall in 2010 and 2011.
Kill is establishing his program in year No. 2 including academics. The team’s cumulative GPA’s for the fall and spring semesters during the 2012-13 school year have been over 3.0. The GPA’s compare favorably with Northwestern football players, a school long known as among the best in the country academically.
Kill said the plus-3.0 results aren’t something that will happen every semester. “You take 115 students; it’s hard to do that good. …I’ve been coaching for 29 (years) and most of the time you get excited if you’re about a 2.55 or 2.6 overall in football because you deal with so many numbers. Those GPA’s (fall and spring) are exceptionally high.”
Gophers and other notes:
Condolences to family members on the passing Monday night of Murray’s Restaurant owner Pat Murray who was 72. Pat was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011. He was a popular figure not only at the restaurant but as a civic leader in Minneapolis. “People knew what he was like. He was very dedicated professionally and personally,” his son Tim Murray said. “He loved everything about the restaurant business yet somehow juggled his time to do all he could for his kids.”
Visitation is scheduled tomorrow from 4 to 8 p.m. at Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel. Memorial services Friday will be at St. Olaf Catholic Church downtown beginning at 10 a.m. and visitation will be one hour prior. Memorials of the donor’s choice are welcome.
Kill meets with the media tomorrow, and has several practices open to the public from August 4-8, all beginning at 10:25 a.m. at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex. The Gophers open practice on August 4.
The Big Ten Conference has a rule that athletes transferring from one member school to another can’t receive a scholarship from the new program. However, the NCAA will allow Penn State football players to transfer to Big Ten schools and receive scholarships.
Congratulations to Dick Larson, Rick Meyer, Mike Wilkinson and others who helped make possible the Murray Warmath conference room at the new fitness center at Friendship Village in Bloomington. A celebration at Friendship Village was held last week attended by former Gophers, including those from Warmath’s first team in 1954 to his last in 1971. The conference room is decorated with Warmath memorabilia including his national championship and Big Ten title teams.
The Vikings are not only an overwhelming favorite to finish last in the NFC North, but they have lost 11 consecutive division games.
Look for Charlie Johnson, moved since last season from left tackle to his more comfortable position of left guard, to possibly lead a resurgent and rebuilt offensive line that also includes rookie left tackle and No. 1 draft choice Matt Kalil.
New Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams worked several years for Tony Dungy. Williams said yesterday a lot of his philosophies and schemes “comes from coach Dungy.”
The Wild have sold over 3,000 new season tickets since July 4 when the signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were announced.
With a likely NHL labor dispute ahead, the 2012-13 season for the Minnesota Wild and other clubs probably won’t start as scheduled. The Wild are scheduled to open the season at home October 13 against the Avalanche. By early November the NHL schedule may resume.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, last night Francisco Liriano was the first White Sox starter to make his debut the same season against the same club he was acquired from since Marino Pieretti on June 19, 1948.