Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blogpoll Ballot Halloween Week

1Ohio State--
3Boston College--
4Arizona State 2
5Oregon 1
6Kansas 7
7Missouri 1
8Oklahoma 3
9West Virginia 3
10Alabama 16
11Connecticut 15
12Georgia 14
13Virginia Tech 1
14Michigan 6
15Tennessee 11
16South Florida 5
17Southern Cal 8
18Florida 11
19Purdue 7
20Texas 2
21Auburn 3
22Boise State 4
23South Carolina 6
24Clemson 2
25Wisconsin 1

Dropped Out: Kentucky (#10), Virginia (#15), UCLA (#16), California (#19), Wake Forest (#21), Penn State (#22), Illinois (#23), Cincinnati (#25).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Michigan v. Minnesota Open Thread

I'm not expecting Tim Brewster's first win today, but I do think that the Gophers can keep the game close. The fact is, Michigan has struggled mightily against spread offenses. And while the Gophers' offense isn't in the same league as Oregon's, or probably Appy State's for that matter, I expect the Gophers offense to trouble the Wolverines.

And while the Wolverines are certainly more talented at virtually every position, the Gophers' defense is more capable of stopping (think slowing down a little) a team that doesn't spread the field and try to attack our porous secondary. This isn't to say I think the Gophers are going to claim the Little Brown Jug today, but I like our chances here more than I do against a team that throws 70 percent of the time.

I might miss the first portion of the game (freaking in laws in town), but I'll try and get back for updates this afternoon.

Prediction: Michigan 38, Minnesota 24.

** Excellent start for the maroon and gold. The defense has put some pressure on Ryan Mallet, tipped a few balls at the line of scrimage and made tackle on the inital contact. The Gophers have also benefited by the clear ineptitude of Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallet. The defense has come through with a touchdown to give Minnesota a 10-3 lead, but the offense needs to pick up the slack here a little bit. A solid drive right now can really put a scare into the Wolverines heading into halftime.

** As the offense continued to sputter, the Wolverines slowly took advantage. Ryan Mallet hit Mario Manningham a couple times for nice gains in Minnesota territory. The result is a 13-10 Michigan lead heading into halftime. The good: Ryan Mallet looks completely overwhelemed and not ready for the Gophers, not to mention prime time. But for the Gophers to get it done, our freshman quarterback, Adam Weber, is going to have to make some plays. He's made some very poor reads, in my opinion, and is lucky not to have two or three interceptions at this point. The Michigan secondary is far more experienced than anything we put out there, and Weber needs to make his reads and make sound decisions the rest of the way if Brewster's squad is to pull an upset.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tubby Lands Sampson

Tubby Smith's 2008 recruiting class has just gotten a big-name boost. Ralph Sampson III, as reported by the local television media last night and today by the Pioneer Press, is going to be a Golden Gopher.

Sampson is a 6-11 225 pound center from Duluth, Ga, and picked Minnesota over Georgia Tech and Clemson, though it was reported that others were in the mix for his services as well, including Tubby's successor at Kentucky Billy Gillespie. The Gophers have myriad holes, but with the graduation of Spencer Tollackson after this season, the addition of Sampson and Colton Iverson, could give Tubby a very solid low-post prescense in the years to come.

The Pioneer Press story quoted a recruiting expert as saying that Sampson is Tubby's first "breakthrough recruit" at Minnesota. Sampson, the son of the former Virginia great, joins Iverson, JUCO forward Devron Bostick and JUCO forward Paul Carter in the 2008 class. According to, per the PiPress article, Tubby's 2008 recruiting class is ranked 7th in the nation and second only in the Big Ten to Ohio State.

I was one of those Gophers fans who listened too much to the haters at Kentucky, who argued that Tubby wasn't a good recruiter. His first class at Minnesota is turning out to be top-notch.

The recruitment of Sampson was relatively quiet until earlier this year when Sampson's play began to make coaches take notice. Give Tubby a lot of credit here, he was in touch with and recruiting Sampson before many of the other big name coaches. The PiPress' Marcus Fuller picked up on that in his conversation with Sampson's AAU coach.

"If somebody recognizes you right away and wants you, that shows," Georgia Stars coach Bo Bell said. "He was very high on Tubby. Tubby saw his ability, and the kid took advantage of it."

Tubby has done a great job with the 2008 recruiting class, setting him up for a quick turnaround job at Minnesota. If he can land locals Royce White and Rodney Williams to flesh out his Class of 2009, Tubby will be well on his way to the upper echelon of the Big Ten.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Webster To Play For Utah State

The Bryce Webster mystery has taken another twist in the last few days, with news breaking in Utah that the former Golden Gopher forward/center has committed to play for Utah State.

This is the same Bryce Webster who was fairly highly regarded coming out of St. Thomas Academy. Webster played sparingly for the 9-22 Gophers last season. Shortly after Tubby Smith arrived on the scene, rumors began to circulate that Webster was on his way out.

As I reported here and here, the local media didn't provide any real reasons for Webster's decision to leave. Was it his teammates? Did he prefer the Monson era to Tubby Smith? Did he just crave to play ball in Utah? We'll never know, but now we do know that the rumors put out by that Webster was leaving to play for Harvard were unfounded.

Perhaps I've overblown this situation in my search to find answers. My instincts tell me something related to Webster and his time at the U is fishy. Does anyone know anything? Either way, I think this effectively ends this story.

Blogpoll Ballot Week Eight

1Ohio State 2
3Boston College 1
4Oregon 4
6Arizona State 10
7Florida 7
8Missouri 1
9Southern Cal 1
10Kentucky 4
11South Florida 10
12West Virginia--
13Kansas 2
14Virginia Tech 1
15Virginia 4
16UCLA 10
17South Carolina 6
19California 12
20Michigan 6
21Wake Forest 5
22Penn State 3
23Illinois 3
24Auburn 7
25Cincinnati 1

Dropped Out: Tennessee (#20), Hawaii (#21), Georgia (#22), Texas Tech (#23).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Science And Football

Jon at The National Anthem Before A Cubs Game put together a marvelous scientific breakdown comparing the embarrassing loss by Michigan to Appalachian State and Minnesota to North Dakota State University.

I thought about stealing some of it and using it here, but instea you should just go over to TNABACG and check it out. Great stuff, Jon.

College Football Blog Radio

I made an appearance this past week (before the NDSU loss) on College Football Blog radio. The link to the audio of the show is here. My apperance is on the Oct. 17th edition. Right now, that is the most recent broadcast, but if a new one is up by the time you click the link, you'll see an Oct. 17th option on the right sidebar.

The host asked me questions about Tim Brewster's rough start, how Gopher Nation has reacted and, during its Football in the Groin segment, I was asked to recollect a painful loss. I didn't look back too far, referencing last year's bowl game and the myriad other losses during the Glen Mason era. Have a listen if you're trying to waste some time. I only sound marginally like an idiot!

Floyd Picks Irish

If the loss to North Dakota State University wasn't painful enough for Gophers fans, news that star recruit Michael Floyd has chosen Notre Dame only puts salt on our fresh wounds.

The Star Tribune reports here that Floyd committed to the Irish after visiting this weekend.

As far as recruiting goes, the loss of Floyd isn't completely devastating. The Gophers were able to get 4-star wide receiver Brandon Green to committ recently. While the addition of Floyd would have been fantastic, grabbing Green should help Brewster fill out a receiving corps. Floyd was ranked as the 11th best receiver in the nation by Rivals, while Green was ranked as #39. So, Floyd was clearly the bigger get here, but these rankings are always at least somewhat subjective.

But the loss of Floyd hurts far more symbolically. Brewster came into Minnesota talking a very big game, especially in the recruiting department. He grabbed headlines by touring the state, apparently in an effort to ensure the local kids stay home. Losing the most high profile Minnesota recruit in your first recruiting season isn't going to get restless fans back on the bandwagon. Overall, this is a damaging development for Brewster public relations wise, and he'll need to prove that he can successfully recruit now that the Gophers are at the tail-end of their worst season in recent memory.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gophers v. NDSU Open Thread

Leave all your North Dakota State game comments here. I'm hesitantly predicting a Gophers win today, but something tells me it won't be easy. If the Gophers don't win, I'm turning my coverage completely to basketball .... something I've been eagerly awaiting for a few weeks now.
** BTN gives us access to Brewster's speech before the game. He came up with "We're going to choke their asses out!!!"

Can I ask what the hell than means? Is this the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Weird. Psychotic. How do you choke an ass? And what does he mean by choking an ass out?

** Meanwhile, what's equally disturbing, is the Bison and Gophers are tied at 7 midway through the first quarter.

** Halftime has the Bison up 17-14. I've been all in favor of the Gophers playing a tougher non-conference schedule, but I submit that Brewster learn how to dominate teams like Florida Atlantic and North Dakota State University before we see the likes of Texas and Nebraska.

** Anyone notice the smug look on Glen Mason's face during the BTN halftime report? He's gotta be loving watching Brewster's Gophers struggle. I'm outta here for the second half. Go Gophers! Come on, Coach Brewster, rally the troops!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable Week 7

This week, the questions are being posed by our friends at The Hoosier Report.

Without further adieu, here are the questions and answers ....

1. Call your shot. We are halfway through the Big Ten season (or, at least, most of us are). What will be your team's final record? Where, if anywhere, will your team be spending late December/early January? Who will win the Big Ten?

Hmm. Tough question. Unfortunately I only see one more victory, that would be this week at home against North Dakota State. I don't see this team winning at Michigan or Iowa or at home against Illinois or Wisconsin. The team was competitive on Saturday against Northwestern, but the only Big Ten team left on the schedule that seems beatable at this point is Iowa. That would mean Tim Brewster endures a winless first Big Ten season.

Where will the Gophers be in late December/early January? On the recruiting trail. As for the Big Ten champs? Ohio State still has to travel to Penn State and Michigan. The Wolverines' road games--at Wisconsin and Michigan State--are far more winnable. I'm going with the resurgent Wolverines.

2. How is your team's coaching situation? Clearly, this varies from school to school, with some coaches approaching retirement (Carr/Paterno), some who are just starting out (Brewster/Fitzgerald), the unique case of Bill Lynch, and others who seem to be in their primes. If your coach is on the tail end of his career, where do you see things going from here? If he's still early in his tenure, any buyer's remorse? If he's in he's somewhere in the middle, are you happy or wishing things would go a different direction? How does your view correspond to the "majority" view among your school's fans?

I think most Gophers fans at this point want to be patient with Coach Brewster. These are primarily the same fans who drove Glen Mason out of town. When Brewster was first hired, I reacted like many other fans by saying "Tim who?" After a 1-6 start, Brewster has been hit with some criticism, but that has had more to do with his penchant to say outlandish things and talk as if this version of Gophers is championship material. Buyer's remorse? Not yet. Brewster was pitched to Minnesota fans as a recruiter. He'll need to excel in that arena to keep the boo birds quiet while he's struggling on the field.

I will say though that I'm somewhat troubled at the fact that Brewster doesn't seem to be an offensive or defensive guru. He was a tight ends coach and recruiter. He cedes all play calling to coordinators Everett Withers and Mike Dunbar. On Saturdays, I'd like to see Brewster take a little more control over the games.

BONUS BASKETBALL QUESTION: If you plan to cover basketball, give us a brief outlook for your team. Who is your best player? What do you expect from the team?

Oh, you bet I'm going to cover basketball. This blog is named after a former Minnesota basketball player and was started in large part because of the excitment generated after the Tubby Smith hire. Our best player? Probably senior center Spencer Tollackson. He's a kid who can be one of the better centers in the Big Ten this year, even if he's not a big name. Expectations are moderate for the 2007-08 Gophers. The talent level on the team isn't going to turn any heads. But it's fair to say Gophers fans expect Tubby Smith to put out a .500 basketball team or better and be competitive in the Big Ten. A middle of the road Big Ten finish in year one of Tubby's tenure would meet expectations.

Intermittent Blogging

Hey all, just wanted to give everyone a head's up that my posting will be hit or miss the next few weeks. I'm going to keep updating the blog, but because I'm consulting on a number of political races in Virginia--we're electing state House and Senate candidates--my time is somewhat limited. I'm not taking a permanent hiatus because there will be nights like tonight when I have time to post.

I just wanted to give a heads up to my regular readers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blogpoll Ballot Week 7

Last week we played who is #2. Today we play who is #1. I went with South Florida over LSU and Ohio State, because the Bulls are 1) undefeated and 2) of the the undefeated teams has the best wins (North Carolina, Auburn and West Virginia).

LSU stays at #2 because of their much more difficult schedule than Ohio State.

In other blogpoll news, three Big Ten teams I probably had ranked too high all year have dropped out. Purdue, Wisconsin and Indiana gave way to Penn State this week. I was very, very tempted to put Michigan back in the poll, but then I remembered weeks one and two and decided the Wolverines don't deserve the nod yet.

As it is, I'm failry happy with the top ten. But it's the bottom ten that I think is crapshoot at this point. Who do you think is a top ten team waiting to happen? Who is udnerrated in this poll and who do I have too high?

1South Florida 2
2LSU 1
3Ohio State 3
4Boston College--
5Oklahoma 6
6Kentucky 9
7California 5
8Oregon 3
9Missouri 2
10Southern Cal 2
11South Carolina 2
12West Virginia 2
13Virginia Tech--
14Florida 10
15Kansas 5
16Arizona State 2
17Auburn 9
18Texas 5
19Virginia 7
20Tennessee 6
21Hawaii 2
22Georgia 1
23Texas Tech 3
24Cincinnati 12
25Penn State 1

Dropped Out: Purdue (#16), Illinois (#17), Wisconsin (#18), Rutgers (#22), Indiana (#25).