Hard to believe we are already down to the final home game of the season at TCF Bank Stadium. Feels like it was just yesterday I mistakenly predicted a 10-2 season. Feels like it was just yesterday we were debating which true freshman would be playing and which ones needed to redshirt. Feels like it was just yesterday we were debating how the defensive backfield would hold up after losing Murray and BBC. Yet here we are and Senior Day is upon us.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you to the 13 graduating seniors. This group of players has been through a lot during their 5 years on campus, including watching their head coach resign due to health issues. Though they never achieved their ultimate goal of winning the B1G Title (barring a miracle over the next two games), they helped build the foundation for this program going forward. The program has taken massive strides forward under this group. Any success the program achieves over the next couple years can be helped traced to this group.
Think back to the mess this group walked into when they arrived on campus. Ok, I apologize, that wasn’t nice of me. Now think of what this class has helped build. They were part of a group that was 30 minutes of football away from winning the B1G West and a chance to play for the B1G Title. They were part of a group that helped the Gophers play their first New Year’s Day bowl game in forever. They were part of a group that won the Gophers first bowl game in over ten years. They were part of a group that put themselves into the conversation of winning the West this season. Say what you want about not accomplishing the ultimate goal, it wasn’t that long ago this program was losing to the likes of South Dakota. As frustrating and disappointing this season has been at times, I’d rather be in the conversation at the end like they have been this season than to go back to losing to New Mexico State. So thank you seniors for helping make Gopher football matter again!
Finally, I’m sure I’ll catch heat for this but I feel the need to say it. Whether you love him or hate him, please show Mitch Leidner the respect her deserves Saturday. I don’t want to get into the tired debate we’ve all had over the past three years while he has been the starting QB. Saturday isn’t about that. Saturday is about respecting the fact Mitch Leidner gave absolutely everything he could to this program! Better quarterbacks may come down the pipeline, but I for one will always remember Mitch Leidner and all he gave to the Gophers.
Thank you seniors and good luck wherever the road takes you!