I was lucky enough to get a copy of St. Paul Pioneer Press Columnist Brian Murphy’s new book 100 Things Minnesota Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die published by Triumph Books. It’s the latest in a string of books with the similar title with just the team and content changed. In this version, Murphy writes 100 separate essays on everything University of Minnesota. Murphy’s topics range from Gophers historical figures such as Herb Brooks and Bronko Nagurski to its traditions such as the Ski-U-Mah battle cry and the various football trophies (he even finds room to write about the Governor’s Victory Bell as one of the 100). His essays span the length of Gopher athletics—from the origin of the Little Brown Jug in 1903 to the hiring of PJ Fleck in 2017.
Murphy’s essays are heavy on the “Big 3” of football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey which makes sense not only from a historical perspective, but from a prospective buyer standpoint. Seventy-five percent of the book covers an event or a historical figure from one of those three sports. However, Murphy does carve out a number of articles for some famous Gopher baseball and Gopher golf notable names.
Murphy does go into good detail in each of the essays. You obviously don’t get the full picture due to the space limitations of the book, but if you did not know anything about say the famous brawl between the Gopher basketball team and Ohio State in 1972, you definitely learn enough to have a much greater idea of what occurred that fateful night. Murphy has done his research and found various sources that he all strings together to create a narrative of the person or the event.
If you are a diehard Gopher fan you will recognize the majority of the names and events Murphy writes about, but even hardcore fans can find new interesting tidbits they previously might not have known in the profiles. The casual Gopher fan will gain a treasure trove of new knowledge he or she did not previously know. They are the true audience for this book and will be ones who will appreciate Murphy finding the stories that may have passed them by.
The one complaint one may have about the book is its limited look at famous women in Gopher history. Only nine of the 100 essays are about famous Gopher women athletes and coaches. You can bring this number to ten if you count Gopher Women’s Hockey coach Brad Frost, but still reserving just 10% of the essays in the book to Gopher Women’s sports seems limiting. Additionally, all of the women’s articles are limited to just basketball and hockey players and coaches—-it feels as though a chunk of history is missing. Not having a representative from say, the Gopher Volleyball program feels like an omission in my opinion.
All in all 100 Things Minnesota Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is a good broad overview of all things University of Minnesota sports and is an entertaining read. Murphy has put a lot of work into formulating his research into well written stories that feel as though you are right there watching the events and players for the very first time. If you are a casual Gopher fan, or know some, this is a great book to pick up as the holiday season ramps up.
100 Things Minnesota Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is available at Barnes and Nobles, the University of Minnesota Bookstores, and on amazon.com.