It seems like everyone is going to have an opinion on Minnesota v. USC. And that's probably a good thing.
Here's a tidbit from an ESPN Big Ten mailbag
Joe from Parts Unknown writes: Adam, My colleague and I have been engaged in a heated debate since word broke of the ensuing USC-Minnesota showdowns, and I'm hoping you might settle the score for us. My buddy Marc, an avid Gophers fan, believes the publicity is a can't-miss boost to Minnesota, even if it means his team is dismantled, pummeled, and embarrassed worse than if they had lost to a D-III school. The exposure justifies the pain in his opinion. My contention is that Minnesota is freely sowing its own demise, and the team would be much better off beating up on a lackluster Washington State team. Minnesota might have the same team colors as USC, but they definitely don't have comparable talent. You thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: I certainly understand your concern about a Gophers beatdown, especially given what USC has done to Big Ten teams in recent years. But for Minnesota to start getting the respect it lacked for most of the Glen Mason era, the schedule had to be upgraded. Too many teams are afraid of scheduling teams like USC, for fear it will keep them out of a minor bowl game. It leads to a largely bland nonconference season for fans to watch and reporters to cover. I understand the need for programs without a long history of bowls to reach the postseason, but we're talking about one or maybe two tough non-league games.
The way I look at it, the Big Ten always has two chances to regain national respect -- September and the bowl season. Conference play simply doesn't matter to people who regard the Big Ten as a down league. So if Minnesota can hang close with USC or even pull a huge upset, it would be a major boost for the program and the league. I agree that beating a solid team like Cal on Sept. 19 -- or even Washington State -- seems more realistic for Minnesota, but the approach of scheduling a tough team or two is a good one. I look at a team like Penn State, which didn't get the respect I thought it deserved for much of the 2008 season. With a weak nonconference lineup for 2009, the Lions might not get any national respect until the postseason. I really hope Penn State considers adding another BCS opponent for 2009, possibly an ACC team. There's definitely a benefit not only for the program, but the league.
- With the firing of Mark Gottfried at Alabama and the opening at Arizona, Coaching Carousel lays out a scenario in which former Minnesota coach Dan Monson returns to coach at Gonzaga. I'll believe that when I see it.
- The Wizard of Odds has a rundown of the cheapest plays of the 2008 college football season. The Gophers make the list with two plays from the 55-0 Iowa win in Minneapolis. The one that stuck out to me as a cheap shot was a blatant and dangerous clip from Ned Tavale. Have a look at the finalists here.
- After not living up to expectations for Don Lucia and the men's hockey team, Jeff Frazee has started to live up to the hype.
- Here's a transcript from a chat with future Gophers guard Justin Cobbs. Here's one snippet: "al nolen . we talk regularly here and there . he is like a big brother teaches me what i need to work on and what i need to get better at and how to be a better point guard "
- Big Ten Geeks says that Ralph Sampson III is a darkhorse candidate for Big Ten freshman of the year if he continues to perform as he did against Indiana. Two things: Yes, if he does play like he did agaisnt Indiana. Second, his performance has come from hard work, as the local rags reported. Hopefully RSIII doesn't care about the headlines, because he has much work to do.
- Strange column I enjoyed pitched as a Facebook Status Update for college basketball personalities.
- Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman calls the Gophers basketball team an imposter.
- Jon Marthaler at TNABACG says Minneapolis is close to being overtaken by McHale Fever. And in a good way.