Believe it or not, but the Gophers have one last football game this year. No really. I know, amongst all the joy with the Gophers hoop squad and all the talk and rumors of a new football coach, it's easy to forget that the Gophers finish their season this Saturday. And considering how one-sided the "rivarly" for the Floyd of Rosedale has been lately, it's probably been easier to forget that it is, indeed, Hate Week.
Yep, it's that most wonderful time of the year when our fair state gets infested with Hawkeye fans, swelling with that obnoxious arrogance they like to call pride. Remember, while Minnesota has three professional teams, the Timberwolves, perhaps one of the best basketball teams in the Big 10 AND a used-to-be-great college hockey team, Iowa has.... well, the Hawkeyes. And if you think our football team is bad, you should see their basketball squad. Yikes.
So yeah, since it's Iowa football 24/7 for fans of the Black and Gold, they're more generally more fired up than we are. At least usually. Iowa's lost four games already this season, all in heartbreaking fashion (the stat nerds would take this moment to point out that this is another example of how "clutch"- even for Captain America Ricky Stanzi- doesn't really exist. Iowa won a bunch of close games in 2009, yet with mostly the same cast have lost four close ones in 2010. You try and explain it, because I can't. And to be honest, I don't care- it's just fun to see them lose!). So with their national title and Big Ten title hopes dashed yet again (plus with us being, you know, 2-9) even the boys at BHGP are having a little trouble getting fired up.
While they do get a few things right in ripping the Gophers and trying to get their hate on, there's a few things I have to respond to...
It might not be Tim Brewster, but it's still Adam Weber, forever regressing, now playing for his third coach and completely incapable of saving him, as well.
Not only do I not disagree with this, I couldn't agree with it more. It's just fun to see in print how fans of other schools realize Weber is terrible but our coaching staffs never could. Something else that's fun to read regarding Weber? FBT's excellent fact-filled piece on Weber's Legacy. It's over a week old so you've probably read it by now, but just in case, go take a look. It put a smile on my face to see factual evidence that my belief Weber isn't very good is actually true. You know what else puts a smile on my face? That Saturday's game will be the last one Weber ever plays in Maroon and Gold. It's the last time we get to watch him sail timing routes either 18 feet over someone's head, behind him, or directly at his feet. I realize some of what's happened with Weber's career is not his fault, as he had to deal with Brewster's revolving door of coordinators and offenses, but I'm going to love seeing someone- ANYONE- other than #8 under center in 2011.
It might not be the horrendous 2007 defense, but it is still a defense lost, confused, and giving up 409 yards and 34 points per game.
How DARE you say that about a Kevin Cosgrove-coached defense! Lost and confused is being kind- it's at least giving the defense credit for showing up, which if you've watched the team at all this year, you know is completely untrue.
It's still the program who chases big name coaches like a child chasing the end of a rainbow. It's still the program that had Bo Pelini and took Tim Brewster. It's still such a massive, massive trainwreck.
I don't disagree with this one much either. It's more of a reminder that as excited and hopeful as Gopher fans should be for a new head coach, it's important to remember that the same man who selected Tim Brewster over Pelini, Charlie Strong, and Lane Kiffin is the same man making this hire. Pray to the god of skinny punks that AD Joel Maturi is getting a LOT of help in this selection, because otherwise we're in for many more years of having to deal with Iowa kicking our ass every year and us having to take it.
And really, that's the point in all of this: I can't disagree with much of anything BHGP says in that piece because they have absolutely owned us. And I hate that. Sure Hate Week reminds me of how much I hate Iowa and their fans (how much? More than any other team and fanbase in any sport. That's right, more than Duke, the Lakers, the freaking Cowboys, Packers, Yankees, Maple Leafs, Toronto sports in general, and even the bandwagon Boston fans. More than a duet with Avril Lavigne and Celine Dion. Even more than Gary Bettman), but it reminds me more how much I hate the situation Gopher football has sunk to- and just how much I want to see the Gophers get out of it.
This century has been absolutely miserable for Gopher fans in this rivalry, and really in all of our trophy games. And I hate it. I hate Iowa's fans, yet you have to admire the passion, and I hate that we can't engage in much trash talk other than "maybe you should find other places than our stadium bathrooms to have sex with each other" which has gotten as old and stale as a Sid Hartman column. The Floyd of Rosedale rivarly has the second-best rivalry trophy in sports (apparently we play for the best one with Wisconsin- the Axe- but we haven't seen it in years. The rumor is that it does exist and we could actually have it if we'd ever beat the Badgers. Just what I've heard), generations of tradition, and plenty of material for some good, old fashioned hate (not to be confused with the Georgia/Auburn rivalry. Or how Auburn fans will feel towards Cam Newton when he's eventually declared ineligible and they have to pretend like this whole season never happened).
But the Gophers have not lived up to their end of the rivalry. At all. Iowa feels like they own our team and our stadium, and nothing is going to change that until we start beating them again. I hated the 12-0 loss last year almost as much as 55-0 the year before (think the new Gopher coach will finally admit that game happened?), but this year, another loss to Iowa, no matter how lopsided the score, will hurt me much at all.
Why? Because I have the hope that next year with a new coach, one who will not be a career position coach with zero head coaching or coordinator experience, we'll have a chance. We'll have a cohesive offense, and a defense not coached by Kevin Cosgrove. MarQueis will hopefully be behind center, running the option like Cam Newton, and Da'Jon McKnight will bust out as the conference's best receiver. Guys on defense will make plays. Sometimes even plays for a loss. And cause turnovers. I know, I know, but I'm daring to dream here!
So as a Gopher fan, that's what Hate Week means to me. With a new coach on the horizon, hopefully next year for Hate Week I can stop hating the Gophers situation because Iowa kicks our ass every year, and get back to hating the Hawkeyes and their fans because we can beat them. And that goes for Wisconsin too.
Finally, a few predictions for the game: at least as many Hawkeye fans as Gopher fans at TCF Bank Stadium, we WILL score at least 1 TD, Da'McKnight will make at least one unbelievable catch, and in the end we will still lose. I hope I'm wrong on that last one, and we end the season on one of those...wait what do you call them?...winning streaks? Yeah. One of those. It's been awhile since our last one, so I'm still trying to get used to this whole winning feeling thing again. But it'd be a great way to end the season.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody. And GO GOPHERS!
WHO HATES IOWA?