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Football Likely Topic Now for U Regents

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September 10, 2020

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The University of Minnesota Board of Regents meets today and tomorrow, and discussion will certainly include the Big Ten’s decision to cancel or postpone the 2020 football season.  The group has not had a regularly scheduled meeting with school president Joan Gabel since the league announced last month the season would not start with scheduled games in September.

There has been a firestorm of criticism not only about the decision but also the absence of details that led to it.  It’s believed that even governing bodies such as the regents at Minnesota and other boards throughout the 14-member Big Ten haven’t been privy to what’s going on.

“I haven’t been told anything about how the decision was made, or if there was a vote,” Minnesota regent Michael Hsu told Sports Headliners.  “I don’t know.  I don’t know anything.”

Hsu said he has listened to contradictory information from Gabel. “So president Gabel told media that there was no vote per se in terms of the Big Ten decision to postpone or cancel football for the fall.  However, some weeks after she said that, the Big Ten…put out the news that the vote was 11-3. I don’t understand how if you didn’t have a vote, how you have an 11-3 vote.”

A spokesman for Gabel declined an interview opportunity yesterday, citing her busy schedule including preparation for the regents meeting and the opening of school this week. The agenda for the two-day regents meeting includes a “report of the president” Friday morning.

The opinion here is the Big Ten rushed its decision in halting football and other fall sports, and made the call without enough transparency.  The August 11 announcement came when there was still time to see how COVID-19 protocols would play out and what medical advances could make things safer.  In late August a new $5 test that gives fast results regarding COVID was announced, and news like that bolsters the decision of the ACC, Big-12 and SEC to play football and not sideline the sport like the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

Rumors are numerous the Big Ten will have a football restart including speculation last weekend that conference presidents were taking a vote.  Nothing has been documented regarding an approved plan to play again in the fall, winter or spring, but in the meantime there are a lot of players who want to play, coaches who want to coach and fans who want to watch.

Things have heated up politically, too, with Midwest Republican legislators, including from Minnesota, calling on the Big Ten to play football.  That could come up at the regents meeting this week as should discussion of the financial hit to Minnesota’s athletic department with no revenue from football.  Collectively, Big Ten athletic departments are projected to see red ink in the billions of dollars. Minnesota and other athletic departments face the possibility of cutting programs and turning to the outside for loans.

The U regents gathering this week is part of a regular schedule of meetings during the calendar year.  Some regents are expected to attend in-person at the McNamara Alumni Center, while others will participate via Zoom.

Worth Noting

With no verbal commits of late, and with other programs adding quality players, the Gophers have fallen to No. 27 in the class of 2021 football recruiting rankings by 247Sports.  Minnesota has been in the top 20 for most of the year.

Condolences to friend and former Gophers linebacker Pete Najarian whose father John recently passed away.  Pete’s mother Mignette died last year and he lost his brother Paul in 2014.

Mike Zimmer

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the NFL is allowing teams to have practice squad players available on game days.  Dan Bailey is the only kicker on the Vikings’ regular roster but if he was unable to play, coach Mike Zimmer could promote Chase McLaughlin from the practice squad.

The team doesn’t have a punter on the practice squad but Bailey has some experience in that role.  Regular punter Britton Colquitt, by the way, is the oldest Viking at 35.  Rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson is the youngest, turning 21 in June.

Greg Jennings, the former Viking and Green Bay receiver, will be part of the Fox TV crew describing Sunday’s game between Minnesota and the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Minnesota Twins had an off day yesterday and while their schedule doesn’t resume until Friday manager Rocco Baldelli said the team will have a “light workout” today.

With 15 games remaining on the regular schedule for the Twins, the three-game series with the Cleveland Indians that starts tomorrow night at Target Field will be pivotal in deciding who wins the AL Central Division.  Minnesota is 18-5 at home, while the Indians are 14-7 on the road.  This will be the last series between the two division contenders during the regular season.

That’s Alex Tuch, the former Minnesota Wild forward who Vegas acquired in the 2017 expansion draft, leading the Golden Knights in playoff goals with eight in 17 games.  Vegas and the Dallas Stars (originally the Minnesota North Stars) are tied at 1-1 in the Western Conference finals.

The Golden Knights, who have already played in one Stanley Cup final, are the most successful expansion franchise in modern sports history.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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