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Minnesota Football: The Upside of Preseason Disrespect

Members of the media continue to doubt the Gophers. I'm not so sure that is such a bad thing.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

First, it was the Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List.

Then it was the Big Ten West Preseason Watch List.

Then it was Sports Illustrated.

Even as excitement amongst our fan base continues to reach a fever pitch for the upcoming season of Minnesota Golden Gopher football, there is no shortage of doubters -- and I'm not just referring to the comments sections over at Bucky's 5th Quarter. Despite posting back-to-back 8 win seasons for the first time in more than a decade and falling one win short of a trip to Indianapolis last season, certain members of the media can't seem to believe that the Gophers are for real.

And for a lot of us, I'm sure that stings a bit.

You'd think that we'd be used to this by now. We all remember when the Gopher's Titanic hit the proverbial iceberg under Tim Brewster and sunk to the lowest of the lows as the laughingstock of the Big Ten. Back then, any preseason prediction higher than dead last was considered cautiously optimistic.

But now that the U has a legitimate coaching staff and a few years of undeniable progress under their belt, we're forced to tap our feet and wait for the rest of college football to get onboard. And the fact that the Gophers can't seem to get over the hump when it comes to preseason hype can be frustrating.

But I'm here to assure you that being the underdog is exactly where the Gophers want to be.

We all crave validation. Few people want to be alone in their opinions. And all of us want to see the Gophers rightfully treated as a contender in the Big Ten West. But when I see Minnesota picked to finish behind Nebraska -- a team we've beaten two years in a row now -- I just shrug and move on. I used to get worked up when I'd see the Gophers picked near the bottom half of the division in the latest preview from Athlon Sports. Not anymore.

Let the non-believers doubt Minnesota. Would it be great for the program to be picked to win the Big Ten West in a dozen different publications? Undoubtedly. But I'm more concerned with how the team finishes on the field than how they finish on the pages of a preseason magazine.

I hope we continue to see prognosticators overlooking the Gophers. That is exactly what drives lesser programs to overachieve. I hope the Gophers never lose that chip on their shoulder. As a program that doesn't have the prestige or the resources of an Ohio State or a Michigan, that chip is what gives Minnesota their edge.

The day may come when the Gophers are preseason favorites to win the Big Ten West. Personally? I can wait. Because when that day comes, it'll be because the players used the doubters to fuel their competitive fire. And I love a good underdog.

How important is preseason respect to you? Does it grind your gears? Or could you not care less about what the "experts" think?