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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Vikings enjoy near-perfect Sunday

-This is my rapid reaction blog post. My column, asking whether the Vikings actually are the best team in the NFC, will be up later at startribune.com and in the Monday newspaper.

The Vikings were gifted with a nearly-perfect day on Sunday.

-They faced an opponent, the Bengals, that had no interest in competing, helping the Vikings to a 34-7 victory, the NFC North title and an 11-3 record. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis reportedly has decided to retire at the end of the season, presumably to avoid being fired, and his players showed little interest in the game.

-The Vikings stayed relatively healthy and won easily even while holding out left tackle Reilly Reiff.

-They were able to finally get Teddy Bridgewater into a game and, luckily for the team's braintrust, he threw an interception on the first pass, quashing any possible quarterback controversy.

-And they remained alive in the race for the first seed in the NFC, which would guarantee that any and all of their postseason games would be played at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Vikings need two more victories to become the second team in franchise history to win 13 games. They will play Green Bay at Lambeau on Saturday, then at home against the woeful Bears to finish the regular season.

They have won the division two of the last three seasons, and will have a first-round bye.

It was an ideal day in a nearly-ideal season.

@Souhanstrib

You can find my podcast network at MNSPN.com

Souhan: Gophers' Pitino is right ... and wrong about booing players

I emphathize with Gopher coach Richard Pitino. And I think he's wrong.

After fans at Williams Arena booed his team on Monday night during a lackluster victory over Drake, Pitino criticized those who booed, saying they weren't helping his team.

It's natural and right for Pitino to defend his players. But his mind-set demonstrates the illogic at the heart of major college sports.

Major colleges want their revenue sports to produce tens of millions of dollars. They pay their athletic director and most prominent coaches millions of dollars. They have turned revenue sports into a major and incredibly visible business. Then they ask us to lay off the players, because this is amateur sports.

You can't have it both ways. Either admit that you're trying to profit off of student-athletes and understand that those paying the freight will hold you accountable, or stick to intramurals. Don't hide behind the amateur status of athletes who actually should be paid something for producing revenues for a major company.

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You can find my podcastst at MNSPN.com.

@Souhanstrib