Mark Hasty of AOL Fanhouse put together a piece asking if Minnesota's 2008 record really matters. He points out that aside from the Buckeyes, the Gophers don't play a contender in the conference. The Gophers could win out, Hasty writes, and go 11-1 and go bowling in January. Or they could end somewhere around 9-3 and match Glen Mason's best ever finish.
But does that really matter? Here's Hasty:
Even if you're skeptical about the 2008 Gophers, though, you'd better beware of next year's edition.
Why? Because graduation barely touches this team. Brewster loses three starters on defense and a whopping one on offense after this year. Quarterback Adam Weber leads the Big Ten in completion percentage. He trails Juice Williams by 65 yards of passing. His touchdown/interception ratio is almost as good as Daryll Clark's (9/2 for Weber against 10/2 for Clark.) Weber is a sophomore this year.
Minnesota's top three running backs? Freshman, sophomore, freshman. Receiver Eric Decker has a 219-yard edge on Arrelious Benn for first place in the Big Ten. Decker is a junior. Offensive line? Two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman. The defense will have to replace two linebackers and defensive end/beast Willie VanDeSteeg next season. Otherwise, everybody comes back.
As we all have learned from the stock market in recent weeks, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Still, I wouldn't count on Brewster's 2009 team to take a huge step back. He landed a top-twenty recruiting class last year and is already off to a good start this year. Not only that, but the Gophers will break in TCF Bank Stadium next September. If they can carry even some of this year's momentum into next year, the days when you could disregard the Gophers are numbered--and it's not a very large number, either.
As we progress through Purdue, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, we might be wise to keep the above paragraphs in mind. Whether it's 9-3, 10-2 or anything else, the future indeed looks bright.
- So, what's wrong with Wisconsin? I'm sure there's a punchline here, but I'll instead just point you to an article from a local Iowa paper that interviewed two Badgers football beat writers about what ails our friendly football foes to the east.
- A report from the PiPress on UofM student-athlete graduation rates.
- We're busy working to get published our basketball preview, but until then ESPN's Andy Katz lists the Gophers as one of many teams that will be in contention for an at-large berth to the tourney early next year.
- And in case you're wondering, the 2008 basketball season officially gets underway during"Tubby's Tipoff" (like midnight madness, but not at midnight) on Oct. 17.
- More, in my opinion too early, Tim Brewster for Coach of the Year fodder.
- The latest reason why Minnesota fans should be proud of Tubby Smith--and one reason why UK fans will eventually regret handing their team to Billy Gillispie. From FoxSports' Jeff Goodman on how Gillispie landed 5-star Daniel Orton: (Emphasis mine).
I have to admit I wasn’t surprised that Daniel Orton, one of the top big men in the country, committed to Kentucky over the weekend while in town for an early Midnight Madness. Not because Kansas took itself out of the equation when the Jayhawks took a pledge from forward Thomas Robinson. But because it certainly didn’t hurt that Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie paid Orton’s father, Larry, to speak at camps in Lexington on three separate occasions this past summer. Let’s be clear. This isn’t against the rules. It’s just Gillispie being Gillispie. Remember, he was basically the guy that came under fire for being one of four coaches to hold Midnight Madness a week before the "official" start of practice. Creative? Absolutely. On the verge of being unethical? It depends who you ask.