Magazines Predict Cellar for U Football
Two of the first college football magazines on the newsstands predict the Gophers will finish last in the Big Ten’s Legends Division.
Lindy’s Sports College Football Preview offers a couple of cynical views about the Gophers. The publication reports the good news is adults will be able to buy beer at TCF Bank Stadium this year. Not so good is the “Gophers need something in the stands to distract fans from the action on the field.”
Phil Steele’s College 2012 Preview also acknowledges Minnesota’s likelihood of last place in the Legends Division — just like last season — but describes the Gophers as a “much improved squad.” Steele is a workaholic football authority who after studying the Gophers voices this optimism: “Three of my nine sets of power ratings call for the Gophers to achieve bowl eligibility and that gives them a shot at escaping the basement.”
Lindy’s agrees the Gophers, with improved talent and speed, could contend for a “lower tier bowl game.” Neither publication includes any Gophers players among the best in the Big Ten Conference, and both view Indiana — forecast for last place in the Leaders Division — as the only team in the conference worse than Minnesota.
The predictions for the Gophers this summer by national publications like Lindy’s and Steele’s won’t surprise most Minnesota fans. Not after a 3-9 season last year, the same as in 2010.
It’s the long term view that inspires more optimism among Gophers fans. I’ve followed every Gophers football coach going back to Murray Warmath, and other than Lou Holtz none impressed media and fans in their first two years as much as Jerry Kill.
This week a friend who is passionate about the Gophers said: ‘If Kill doesn’t become a success coaching the Gophers, I will run naked down the Nicollet Mall.”
If the Gophers don’t lose key players to injuries (hello, MarQueis Gray) they could improve last season’s overall record even if the wins and losses are no better in the Big Ten. Minnesota needs to sweep its nonconference games starting at UNLV on August 30, playing a Rebels program Steele reports has one winning season in the last 17. Then come home nonleague games against New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. All winnable, but no cinches.
Last year the Gophers were 2-6 in the Big Ten. On the league schedule are three teams —Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State— Steele ranks among his 12 national surprise teams for 2012. Then, too, the Gophers must play Michigan, a popular choice to win the Big Ten championship. Minnesota might have to scrap to find two league wins among games against Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois.
Looks like a 7-5 season at best, 4-8 at worst.