Minnesota Gopher Hockey: Rotating Schedule with WCHA, and Gophers won't play the Sioux because of U policy?

Well. Hope you wanted more winter because we've got it! 4-7 inches of snow today, and a lot more the further north you go! Hey who doesn't love 5 month long winters? Spring? Who needs that? Not me, that's for sure. What good would taking plastic off the windows and FINALLY getting to put away winter boots and gloves and toques do?

Since we're going to have winter forever apparently, let's talk more about a winter sport, Golden Gopher men's hockey. Roman has a long post on his Goal Gopher blog about Lou Nanne's appearance on KFAN, as well as what non-conference scheduling is probably going to look like for Minnesota once they join the Big Ten. Long story short: Gopher fans are NOT going to be happy. According to WCHA commish Bruce McLeod, there's a tentative deal in place with Minnesota and Wisconsin to play a rotating non-conference schedule starting in 2013-14, meaning North Dakota, Denver, Duluth, and St Cloud will NOT be on the schedule every year. They'll see five WCHA teams one season, and then it sounds like it'll be five different schools the next.

I totally and completely understand this from the WCHA's point of view, because you want ALL your conference members to benefit from the gate revenues of bringing in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but for the Gophers, that's no good. This isn't set in stone yet, and you hope the U is fighting like mad to make UND and Duluth permanent fixtures on the non-conference schedule, and then the rest of the teams can rotate in the other three slots.

Nanne makes a good pitch for the idea of an All-Minnesota Holiday tournament hosted by the Gophers that includes Bemidji, St Cloud and Mankato. Duluth is not included because as Nanne rightly says, the Gophs should play a series with UMD EVERY year. The all-Minny tourney would give the three other Minnesota schools the shots against the U that they want (the four schools could split revenue for the tourney or something to make it more profitable for the other three), freeing up non-conference dates for more WCHA teams, which is what McLeod wants. If they put SCSU, Mankato and Bemidji in the holiday tourney and UND and UMD as permanent series every year, then that leaves just five WCHA schools (DU, CC, UNO, UAA, and Michigan Tech) to play on a rotating basis for the other three non-conference weekends instead of 10.

Also, still nothing official from the U on the "American Indian Nickname" policy yet, and how that would effect playing North Dakota once the B1G conference starts. The University of Minnesota Advisory Commitee on Athletics passed a ridiculous political correctness policy in 2003 saying the U couldn't schedule opponents with American Indian nicknames. No really, they did. Nothing better to do in 2003? They made an exception for men's and women's hockey because they were in the same conference as UND and the Fighting Sioux, but when the Gophers leave the conference...? According to Roman, Nanne's thoughts on the subject were:

"If a mascot or a crest is the reason why they don't play, it is ludicrous," he said. "If that is an opponent that you have had forever, and it is an enticing, intriguing, entertaining and probably the best rivalry you have ever had in hockey you don't give it up."

To say the least. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT in favor of a school nickname if it's derogatory or offensive to a group of people. I can't believe Washington's pro football team is still allowed to be called the Redskins, but it is. The NCAA is championing this cause by making any school with a Native American nickname get permission from the tribe or tribes for which the nickname represents. Schools like Florida State, Illinois, and others have gone through the proper steps to keep their Native American nicknames. For whatever reason, North Dakota has had trouble keeping theirs, but are, for lack of a better term, "fighting" to keep the name.

"FWIW", as the kids would say, I'm of Scotch-Irish heritage, and am not offended by the nickname of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the Macalester College Fighting Scots. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Anyway, with the NCAA already taking up this cause, why does the U even need a policy like this? All it is window dressing, and clearly means nothing. I mean really, what their grandstanding policy says is this: "Hi, we're making this policy to appease people who probably aren't even Native American, yet we make an exception for it when it really matters." How ridiculous. Get rid of the policy. When push comes to shove, I'm sure another exception will be made and the Gophs and Sue will be "allowed" to keep playing.

To listen to Nanne's segment on KFAN, you can find the audio here.

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