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Posted November 19, 2008    

Tim Brewster

Bud Grant

Larry Fitzgerald Jr.

Kevin Lynch

MIAC Soccer



Hawks’ Greene Remindful of MB III 

The best news for Minnesota and the other teams in the Big Ten Conference concerning Iowa’s extraordinary running back, Shonn Greene, is he may leave school next year for the NFL.  Of more interest to the Gophers, though, is that the nation’s leading rusher will be at the Metrodome on Saturday trying to lead Iowa to a final regular season record of 8-4 and a quality bowl game like the Outback Bowl. 

Greene’s emergence this season has been a little like a science fiction film where a superhuman guy lands on earth.  In this case the arrival took place at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium where Greene was a seldom used reserve in 2005 and 2006, then wasn’t even in school last season and didn’t participate in 2008 spring practice. 

Greene won the starting running back job this summer, replacing the departed Albert Young, now on the Vikings’ practice squad.  It’s been a fast ride to stardom for Greene who gained 175 yards and 205 yards in 2005 and 2006.  What Greene has accomplished this season is to rush for over 100 yards in every game and gain a total of 1,585 yards, second best in the country. 

No other player in America has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season.  If Greene can do that against the Gophers he becomes the first Big Ten Conference player since Penn State’s Curtis Enis (1997) to rush for over 100 yards in each league game.   

The 5-foot-11, 235-pound New Jersey native runs with power, speed, balance and moves.  The topper is his determination, running with will and aggressiveness.  He will remind local fans of former Gopher Marion Barber III

Last Saturday he rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-17 win over Purdue.  He now has 15 rushing touchdowns, tied for second in school history and is among the national leaders. On Monday he was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.   

Greene, who was academically ineligible last season, is 23 years old.  With only one season of college eligibility remaining after 2008, he has the option of declaring for the NFL draft.  It’s no secret in Iowa he will consider that route. 

Because he didn’t receive pre-season hype and Iowa has a so-so record, Greene won’t have serious Heisman Trophy consideration.  The NFL won’t blink over that, though, and Greene is a likely first or second round pick.  

Meanwhile, the Gophers will butt heads with a bull of a running back who has gained over 75 percent of Iowa’s total rushing yards.  When Saturday’s game is over the Gophers are likely to say, “Once was enough.” 

Gopher coach Tim Brewster has a strategy and can only hope his players execute. “You can’t tackle him with one guy,” he said. “There’s got to be multiple tacklers hitting this guy.  Swarming this guy.  Four or five, six guys around him.  You’ve got to do a great job with your gap control.  Your defensive line is so critical to stopping a guy like him.  

“To be quite honest with you, you’re not going to stop Shonn Greene. …What you’ve got to try to do is limit the amount of yards that he gets and to me the critical thing is the explosive runs. The runs over 12 yards.  Absolutely limit the number of runs he’ll have over 12 yards.”


 Tim Brewster








"What you've got to try to do is limit the amount of yards that he gets and to me the critical thing is the explosive yards."
 Tim Brewster on Shonn Greene


Sooner or Later NFL Likely to Expand Schedule 

Now in week 11 of the NFL schedule would not be a good time to poll league players about expanding the regular season.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and others have approached the subject of increasing the 16 game schedule but nothing has been finalized so far.   

The subject came up last week at Winter Park when former Vikings coach Bud Grant told Sports Headliners that the need for more games is being dictated by the league’s popularity.  He said preseason games are a “farce” because coaches don’t use their starters and often are evaluating lesser players.  He favors an 18 game schedule and reducing the number of preseason games from four to two.  Grant said not to expect changes soon, though, comparing the NFL to the government in being slow to “move.” 

The overwhelming popularity of the NFL as America’s favorite sport and the potential for increased revenues is increasing momentum to seriously consider a 17 or 18 game regular season with two or three preseason games.  It’s a good bet, though, that your average NFL player is dramatically less enthusiastic about the prospect than fans who already enjoy a long season, plus playoffs, with games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  

Ryan Longwell, a Viking captain and 12-year NFL veteran, has a balanced perspective.  “Well, I definitely see both sides of the equation, good and bad,” he said.  “I think from a marketing standpoint, two extra games would be great for the league and give people more of a product that they love. But having been around this game for so long and seeing the beating that these guys take over a 16 game schedule (raises concerns).   

“Most of the guys that are playing all 16 games don’t play in those preseasons, so taking two games away is not going to freshen them up any. …I just can’t imagine stretching that out (the season) for two more meaningful games. …”   

Longwell mentioned Chad Greenway and Heath Farwell, two Vikings who were hurt in early pre-season games and lost for the season.  He described those games as “meaningless” but losing valuable players like Greenway, a linebacker injured in his rookie year, or Farwell, a special teams star, was not a good development for the players or team.

”I am all for shortening for the preseason, but I just know when you get to December and you look at these guys on a Wednesday and a Thursday morning they are really fighting to get to Sunday healthy again, and (then) you add two more games to that.  It’s tough physically.  It’s tough mentally. …A really, really long season of constant beating.” 

Longwell likes the idea of a 16 game schedule and reducing the pre-season games to three per team.  The fourth game has become notorious throughout the country for starters being on the bench and no-name players on the field.  Longwell said it’s “tough” to sell tickets and the games are a “marketing juggling act.” 

For the players there’s not only the concern of physical health, but also compensation if the league schedule is expanded.  Longwell said players will want to be paid for one or more regular season games.  They won’t want the same compensation spread over additional games.







Bud Grant









Ryan Longwell


Worth Noting 

Former Viking Cris Carter in the November 10 Sporting News talking about Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald Jr. who is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 939 while playing for the Arizona Cardinals: “I can’t say I’ve ever seen anybody with better hands. …” 

Carter said Fitzgerald’s hands are the equal of Keith Byars, Keith Jackson and Randy Moss

Although Iowa is likely to lose running back Shonn Greene to the NFL as a junior eligible, the Hawkeyes could have another good team next season.  In last week’s win over Purdue the Iowa offense had only four seniors in the starting lineup, and two on defense, according to the Big Ten Network broadcast of the game.  

Gopher football fan Ken Lien jokes that no one will be doing the wave at Saturday’s Minnesota-Iowa game in the Metrodome.  Last time Iowa was here a Hawkeye fan drowned. 

Kevin Lynch, who is the new Wolves’ radio partner of Alan Horton on Timberwolves’ games, said he was interested in broadcast color work back in high school at Bloomington Jefferson and before he became a star guard for the Gophers.  Lynch was the color man on Gopher basketball radio games from the fall of 200l through last season.   

With a 6-0-4 overall record the Gopher hockey team is ranked No. 1 in both national men’s hockey polls, USA Today/USA Hockey magazine and U.S. College Hockey Online/CBS College Sports poll.  It’s the first time since Jan. 22, 2007 the Gophers have been No. 1.  Minnesota is one of three remaining undefeated Division I teams along with Air Force (10-0-0) and Cornell (2-0-2).  The only other time since 1940 that the Gophers were undefeated through 10 games was in 2001-02 when they were 11-0-2 before losing.  Minnesota has a two-game series at 10th-ranked Denver on Friday and Saturday. 

Leading the 20-player all-MIAC soccer team is Carleton senior midfielder Paul Pedtke, the conference Player of the Year.  He helped the Knights to the MIAC regular season and playoff titles.  Carleton head coach Bob Carlson is Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.  

Leading the 20-player women’s soccer team is St. Thomas junior forward Erin Sprangers who is the conference Player of the Year.  Sprangers helped the Tommies to the MIAC title while leading the conference in goals, assists and points. Second year coach Sheila McGill of St. Thomas is the MIAC Coach of the Year.  

All selections were made by MIAC coaches.




Randy Moss







Paul Pedktke