I write this as I join in the great American capitalist tradition of standing in line waiting for a store to open so I can purchase half off merchandise that was probably overpriced to begin with. Black Friday is not just the biggest shopping day of the year, but for the last few seasons since the Big Ten moved the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe to the weekend after Thanksgiving it has meant a whole something else entirely to Gopher Football fans. It's the day before our Black Saturday--the inevitable loss to our rivals to the East.
I know for most Minnesota Golden Gophers fans I don't need to rehash the timeline, but it's been 14 long seasons since Minnesota has been able to fake chop down a pair if goalposts. Year 15 ends on Saturday. Minnesota is on their fourth head coach since then, the Wisconsin Badgers on their third. It's been a really long time. I mean really long. I met my wife who is from Madison at college in the fall of 2004. Yeah...you can understand what that means. While her immediate family is much more casual Badgers fans, her extended family is much like we are. Diehards who have season tickets and love their team. Not once have I been able to give them any ribbing at the extended family Christmas party. Not once have I not received that semi-condecending but in a nice way look that says...well maybe next year.
And before you make that joke, yes I've given the divorce for the good of the team thing a thought but the child support doesn't really make it a feasible idea.
But I'm sure I am not alone. For the last fourteen years Gophers fans have been watching their team waiting for the day that we take that Axe back. Plenty of fans have mixed families or good buddies who dont fail to poke this painful wound every chance they get. And yeah when we beat them in basketball, or hockey, or just about every women's sport we have it's nice, but it just doesn't have that same feeling.
This year's Gopher team is flawed. We all know that. So is this year's Badger team. So this may or not be the year that this streak ends. I mean--lets be a little realistic here, unless this team suddenly figured out a way to not fold on the road like they did in College Park, Lincoln, and Champaign, something tells me we are not winning in a stadium we last did in 1994. I mean--thats just a year after Wisconsin Football started for damn sakes. JIM BLEEPING WACKER was the Gopher head coach!
But, I'll be sitting there in Camp Randall watching us try. Just like I have every other year for most of the last 14. Because one of these years it will happen. And I don't want to miss that party.
Hopefully things are on the upswing at Minnesota. We have said and hoped this before, but just like our blind faith we will eventually win back the Axe, we have blind faith that hopefully this time is really the time the upswing is true and long-lasting. No one can really know at this point. So we look towards arbritary markers of success. Going to a bowl game is one. Parading around with a trophy is another. Beating a huge rival is a third.
Minnesota can check three of these boxes with a win on Saturday. Is it likely? Probably not. Am I still going to have blind faith it could happen? You're damn right.
So come Saturday I'll be in the tailgate lot in Madison. For several of the last seasons that has been the best part of the trip...and then reality sets in. Just once I wish that it would just be the pre-party to an epic night.
But if this year is not to be the year...again then we regroup. I'll be back in TCF Bank Stadium next August watching the team that we will all hope will get ut done in 2019. Keeping that faith alive. Because I'm a fan damnit, and I don't give up that easily.
With all that said....please beat Wisconsin. Pretty please. With sugar on top even.