We at TDG believe it's only fair to let loyal Gopher readers know what they have in store for them when they visit Fort Worth next year. Hence, TCU cheerleaders. Consider that a primer.
- I suppose we should have expected the #TAKES tsunami to wash the initial excitement of the TCU scheduling announcement out to sea. After all, it's quite easy to make the transition from primary (what was actually announced) and secondary (a toughening of the non-conference slate and move away from FCS opponents) fact reporting to judgments masquerading as analysis. Not that partaking in the latter is any less asinine despite the ease, mind you.
Danger: the fog of condescension from the WWL is thick and soupy from the first sentence:
Minnesota is getting with the Big Ten's scheduling program. Hallelujah.
Hold on for just a damn second. I was under the impression the Gophers had played an AQ non-conference opponent each of the last four years. Oh, Adam's referring to the (as of two days ago) incomplete 2014 schedule and the big-conference-free out of league slate for 2015 and 2016. You know, the seasons where Minnesota was supposed to tango with the Longhorns, only to see that series axed a year later.
Or maybe he means those years the Gophers were going to square off against Oregon State, only to see Time Brewster and Joel MACturi push that series back to 2017/2018 to make room for Tejas and North Carolina?
Or that 2016 season with one too many non-conference games due to the B1G's switch to a 9-game schedule?
Perhaps Rittenberg's caveat amidst mini-outrage after the UNC cancellation should have been prescient:
We'll see if Minnesota replaces North Carolina with another major-conference opponent
Cool thing; Teague did. Next up: backhanded compliments!
Kudos to Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague for getting this done, and to Kill for understanding the need to beef up the schedule and give fans an appealing series to watch.
As if this sudden reversal was prompted out of respect for fan interests. Also, let's not pretend that Jerry intended for a softer non-conference schedule in perpetuity, because he didn't:
"Once we get our program it needs to be ... then let's go play those people. I've got no problem with that."
Minnesota's football program "is not at the level where (former coach) Glen Mason had it," Kill said. "Do we want to do this the whole time we're here? No."
Norwood signaled back in October the non-conference dilution was only temporary, though too many failed to pick up on it:
"[Kill] feels strongly that in order to build a program in the Big Ten at this level, our kids got to have confidence," Teague said. "You don’t want to take on a [nonconference] BCS opponent in your first two or three years."
I guess that timeline makes the rumors about Jerry scrambling to cancel last season's Syracuse game more plausible. 2013 will be Kill's third year at Minnesota. 2014 would be a fourth. Ordered sequences.
But alas! Rittenberg wasn't done passing judgment on Kill with his initial analysis of the TCU news. He saved his sharpest barbs for the Mailblog:
I'm sorry, but buying out of the North Carolina series and revealing that pathetic slate of non-league games last fall was terrible. You should be insulted as a Gopher fan.
I'm sorry I'm not sorry that our head coach has a plan, one which -if everything falls in line- would require a "pathetic" batch of early season contests for the only 2013 season, max:
"All I'm doing is following the things we've done. We need to find a way to get our kids some playing time, win some games, get some confidence," Kill said. "Frankly, we have a plan. It's worked. But there's got to be a little bit of a trust factor in what we do."
A real insult to fans occurs when a head coach proclaims his team would be 5-0 if he'd have just dipped his hand into the alternative Universe box and swapped a few plays around, after the squad was coming off the rails by dropping games to foes they should never lose to. Playing a weaker set of opponents by choice is sort of lame, but understandable. It's also rather convenient to single out a program in rebuilding mode that doesn't have a historical non-conference rivalry to play every year, like Notre Dame or Iowa State.
Outrage over scheduling just feels misplaced to me, considering recent history of Minnesota's out of league shuffling alone hints anything not nailed down is vulnerable to blow away in the swirling vortex that is an AQ conference scheduling mechanism. I'd also be more sympathetic to the cause if the push by Jim Delany and the conference power brokers towards a 9-game league schedule, no FCS opponents and one AQ game for every team in the B1G wasn't primarily motivated by TV money. As in, the Big Ten gets to renegotiate their Tier 1 TV rights in 2017 and more inventory of games means greater cash.
Further, I understand the perspective of the sports writer regarding these type of dampening decisions: they're boring to cover and provide few story lines, so long as the bigger conference team actually wins. What's dishonest in my opinion are attempts by writers to chain themselves to fans by passing their displeasure over such a schedule as really that of the paying rube. Such an argument holds water if you're a fan of, say, Wisconsin or Alabama -- not a program desperately yearning to be relevant on a regional and eventual national stage. Wins translate to media interest; Rittenberg's colleague asserts the limited travel resource and matter-of-fact lack of success angle to justify the WWL's feigning attempt to cover Minnesota to the same detail as other B1G squads:
As much as we've both been dying to get to Minneapolis, it's not an easy drive for either of us and the Gophers haven't won enough lately to merit national coverage.
So, damned for not winning, panned for trying to do everything you can to win more. Life's a bitch when you're not a member of the conference elite.
- Not to be outdone, Fort Worth proves they have crotchety old scribes just like the Twin Cities papes! Luckily for us all, Randball is here to defend the honor of Minnesota:
Yes! Never mind that TCU plays in the sweaty concrete wasteland of Ft. Worth and just dive right in.
Mac Engel comes off as a Jim Souhan type, without a penchant for outdated pop culture references. The punchline of Engel's slant goes as follows:
The way college football works for the BCS affiliated schools, there is minimal incentive to load up the non-conference schedule with challenges any greater than this.
Basically, this is like adding another Kansas to the schedule.
As any good coach knows, you can never play Kansas enough.
Too bad there's no additional evidence to validate his lead that Gary Patterson has "mastered" the art of non-conference scheduling to be had within his pithy collection of Jim Wacker quips and hasty recitation of Minnesota's record. I'll go out on a limb and assume he's referencing TCU's approach prior to joining the Big 12, a strategy that consisted of playing the likes of then mediocre Baylor, Oregon State, Virginia and Stanford before raining sulphur on the Mountain West.
Except this is a strawman argument, since TCU opens this season at JerryWorld against LSU and has home-and-homes slotted against Arkansas and Ohio State. Also worth mentioning: the Frogs no longer play Wyoming and UNLV every year, and instead get a true round robin against 9 AQ opponents. BUT NARRATIVE!
- Patrick Reusse is good at math:
One problem: The Gophers were scheduled to play four non-conference home games in 2014. Now, with the trip to TCU, they will have three.
Even though Pat won't be embarrassed since he has no sense of shame, he may be surprised to discover the Internet has this thing called an archive. It works in a similar manner to the one located inside the Star Tribune's sub-basements, sans the microfilm. Whoops.
- Less #TAKES, more things that matter. Sandell's report on the Frog news from #HailTeague's office spins a little more of the "we think we'll be good enough" thread:
"I feel good about the fact that we provided Jerry with some breathing room this fall with the non-conference schedule," Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said Tuesday. "Knowing what we knew when we made the North Carolina decision, that's a good thing. But it was time to add a stronger team into the mix for '14 and '15."
From Fuller, it does appear that Teague's justification for the move was in part based upon his comfort level after Kill qualified for a bowl in Year 2:
"But I do think with the bowl game this past year, we're making progress as a program that it's time to put a BCS team back on the nonconference (schedule). It prepares us for (2016) when ... we have the Big Ten mandates on the nonconference (schedule) that we've got to get ready for."
HEY WAIT HOW DID THIS RAGING TEMPEST APPEAR ON MY SCREEN:
"We had an opening in 2014 we had to fill, anyway, and the timing worked out beautifully to have the TCU agreement come to fruition," Teague said. "They were really cooperative."
"You're always looking at our schedule in football and talking to different people, and we both found out we needed a game," Teague said. "Myself and (assistant AD) David Benedict have a prior relationship with the athletic director at TCU, Chris Del Conte. So that helped expedite it."
You mean scheduling contracts aren't these intractable boulders burning the legs of athletic directors as they push against gravity to dislodge, and more like Magic cards traded for his or her benefit?!? Weird.
- UNLV kickoff is all set: 6pm on Thursday the 29th, broadcast on BTN. A 6pm start time is the 11am kickoff of Thursday nights.
- GN already had the details on Dre Mathieu's commitment, though Rayno fills us in that another Rich Pitino target, former UCLA pledge Allerik Freeman, chose Baylor instead. :( NOT THE PHOTOSYNTHETIC PIPING!!!!
- Connor Cosgrove gets invited to VIkings Mini-Camp. This video rocks -- go watch it now.
- Juicy Lucy end-zones. Make it so Norwood!