Even though spring practice is over, the work continues for the Gophers. The assistant coaches will hit the road recruiting April 20, as the players start the next phase of conditioning workouts and captains’ practices. For the players, that phase lasts through the end of spring semester finals, May 16. The incoming freshmen are scheduled to move onto campus in mid-June, and summer school starts June 15. Summer workouts and captains’ practices resume June 8 and run through the start of camp in August. Big Ten media days are scheduled for July 30-31, and the Gophers will hold their first practice on Aug. 6, getting ready for their Sept. 3 season opener against TCU.
That Thursday night game against TCU will kick off another difficult schedule for the Gophers. The Horned Frogs could be ranked No. 2 in the national preseason polls behind defending champion Ohio State, which plays host to the Gophers on Nov. 7. The other big nonconference test for the Gophers will come in Week 2, with a trip to Colorado State, which was 10-1 and ranked 21st last November before two season-ending losses. The Big Ten home slate will be interesting for Minnesota with visits from three teams with new head coaches — Nebraska (Mike Riley), Michigan (Jim Harbaugh) and Wisconsin (Paul Chryst). Like this past season, the final four games will likely matter more than any others, including that Thanksgiving weekend home game for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.