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Wednesday Nugz: Awards and Bowls

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Plenty of post-season awards for Gopher sports.

Rutgers v Minnesota

Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Coaching

Tracy Claeys will be Minnesota’s head coach in 2017. As Joe Christensen reports, it looks like Claeys and AD Mark Coyle had already come to the understanding the coach would be back, and all that remains is the details.

— Extending Claeys’ contract was probably Coyle’s only choice, and some subset of fans were going to be upset no matter what the decision, as Chip Scoggins suggests.

GopherNation offers his own perspective on the decision, and notes that nothing about this situation is cut-and-dried, but it was ultimately the right decision.

— Most of us can agree that firing a first-year coach who just won eight games would not have been ideal. The coaching carousel is a scary ride (Dan Wolken, USA Today).

— Speaking of coaching, few of us are ever faced with the sort of temptation that college football coaches face. You can cheat, or you can go home. Faced with those choices, it’s little wonder that coaches often find themselves stepping outside the rules (Matt Hayes, Bleacher Report).

Bowls

— Now that Minnesota football’s regular season is over, it’s time to turn our attention to the post-season. Whatever else we can say about this season, the Gophers definitely earned a better destination than last year’s Quick Lane Bowl. Jason Gonzalez breaks down all the possibiities. At this point, the Music City Bowl appears to be the most likely landing spot.

Awards

-- Good news for the Gopher Specialists! Emmit Carpenter is your Big Ten Kicker of the Year. The honor, based on voting by coaches and the media, is the only all-Big Ten award for Minnesota so far this year. Carpenter also earned first team all-Big Ten honors. Defensive tackle Steven Richardson made the third team, while Damarius Travis, Jalen Myrick, Jonathan Celestin, Jack Lynn, and Scott Ekpe rated honorable mention. The offensive awards will be announced later today.

— More awards for the Gophers, as the Big Ten volleyball awards were also announced. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite is the Big Ten Player of the Year. This is the second year that a Minnesota player has won the honor, with Daly Santana being named Player of the Year in 2015. Wilhite had 451 kills this season, an average of 4.14 kills per set in 1,151 attempts and a .294 hitting percentage. She also has 284 digs, 27 aces, 52 blocks, a team-best 22 match kills, and was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times this season.

— Samantha Seliger-Swenson, last year’s Freshman of the Year awardee, was named Big Ten Setter of the Year. She is currently ninth in the country with 11.45 assists per set and also led the team with 12 double-doubles in 2016 to go with 254 digs, 31 aces and 63 blocks.

Up next

— On the hardwood, the women’s basketball team readies to take on No. 8 Florida State tonight at the Barn as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tip off is scheduled for 6 PM and the game will air on BTN. The Gophers will be looking to end a two-game losing streak as they take on the first of two Top 10-ranked opponents.

— Meanwhile, in his latest State of the Gophers blog post, Richard Pitino is mostly satisfied with the progress the Gophers have made and with the 6-1 start, although disappointed over losing to Florida State. He hopes to see significant improvement against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Miscellany

— There’s a possibility that three Big Ten teams could make the College Footbal Playoffs this year. As much as we should be excited about all the money non-playoff teams like Minnesota could make, this seems like a bad thing for the sport.

— On the other hand, with four teams in the Top 10, this is the most dominant year of the Big Ten since 1960. Guess who was No. 1 that year and won the national championship? Glory days will come again. Maybe.