The Big Ten’s pending bonanza in television money for football and men’s basketball figures to prevent major financial difficulties for the Gophers athletic department. The millions negotiated by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany are so generous that the Gophers' added debt associated with $170 million worth of new training facilities will be manageable.
As has been suggested by national media members, the “Power Five’’ conferences that now dominate football are actually turning into the Power Two when it comes to TV money: the SEC and the Big Ten.
The issue for the Gophers is in their backyard, where the hmoney-making programs are becoming second-class citizens more so than ever.
When have those three endeavors -- football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey -- found themselves as simultaneously overwhelmed for attention by their pro counterparts as right now?
FOOTBALL. The Vikings have unearthed a huge and constantly optimistic following that is about to be in full awe when the magnificent monster, the Taj Ma Zygi, opens in August.
As a whole, Minnesota’s sporting public has envisioned coach Mike Zimmer as a straight-shooting genius; quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the answer to its prayers; and owner Zygi Wilf as a generous contributor to a stadium that will make his $600 million purchase worth $2 billion more than that the day it opens.
Meantime, the Gophers have lost a popular coach and are playing in a stadium – while aesthetically pleasing – is going to seem very minor league when the Vikings open the palace.
BASKETBALL. Finally, the Timberwolves are going first-class in all areas: talent (starting with the fabulous Karl-Anthony Towns), leadership (Tom Thibodeau) and facilities (a new headquarters and next an upgraded Target Center).
Meantime, Williams Arena has gone from a charming relic to a haunted house. The Gophers could make a 400 percent improvement in the Big Ten next winter and still be losers.
HOCKEY. Here’s the bottom line on interest levels in St. Paul’s NHL team and what used to be the university’s “Pride on Ice’’:
The Wild’s disappointing play was greeted with weeks of public angst. The Gophers’ failure to make the NCAA tournament drew yawns.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Things I would’ve known beforehand if I paid any mind to NFL Draft:
*UCLA LBer Myles Jack has bad knee. Knowing that, I wouldn’t have suggested Vikes make a big move upward to get him.
*Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell is slow with questionable practice habits. Knowing that, I could’ve acted smart and ripped pick.
^Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander is short with no interceptions in two years. Knowing that … same as Treadwell.