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Joe Christensen

Gophers football reporter | Gophers, Big Ten
phone: 612-673-7844
Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He's a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker's Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Recent content from Joe Christensen
Going deep on Gophers football 'mystery' offense

Going deep on Gophers football 'mystery' offense

What do Tracy Claeys and new coordinator Jay Johnson have up their sleeves?
Where will 'easier' schedule take 2016 Gophers?

Where will 'easier' schedule take 2016 Gophers?

There's no Ohio State or Michigan on the Gophers' football schedule. With the same quarterback, most top skill-position players and a similar defense, this theoretically should mean more wins.
Gophers schedule appears easier on paper

Gophers schedule appears easier on paper

On paper, the Gophers have a softer schedule, but careful of that finish
Lingen looks to get back in action, extend Gophers' tight end lineage

Lingen looks to get back in action, extend Gophers' tight end lineage

He's only a junior, but if Brandon Lingen can stay healthy, he looks ready to follow in the footsteps of former Gophers tight ends Maxx Williams, Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht.
University, J Robinson reach impasse over negotiations

University, J Robinson reach impasse over negotiations

The sources said the university's internal investigation into Robinson's handling of the alleged use and sale of the prescription sedative Xanax by Gophers wrestlers is complete, with a report on the matter expected soon.
Gophers look to junior college transfers to fill some big holes

Gophers look to junior college transfers to fill some big holes

A mixed history with junior college transfers doesn't stop the U football team from leaning on them.
Tracy Claeys mum on Gophers' QB depth chart

Tracy Claeys mum on Gophers' QB depth chart

Mitch Leidner is the undisputed starting quarterback for the Gophers, but the backup spot remains a question nine days before the season opener.
Jerry Kill chronicles Gophers years with soft edge in upcoming book

Jerry Kill chronicles Gophers years with soft edge in upcoming book

Kill takes the high road in "Chasing Dreams: Living My Life One Yard at a Time," a book co-authored by Jim Bruton. The book will be released next month.
Still learning: Fun-loving sophomore could become Gophers' top wide receiver

Still learning: Fun-loving sophomore could become Gophers' top wide receiver

Rashad Still didn't start playing football until midway through high school, and sometimes for the Gophers receiver, this all still looks like a lark

With Sherels ailing, Claeys names acting Gophers LB coach

Tracy Claeys took the delicate but necessary step Thursday of naming an acting linebackers coach, choosing Keith Jordan.
Gophers take long look at No. 3 running back McCrary

Gophers take long look at No. 3 running back McCrary

With Shannon Brooks injured and Rodney Smith resting, Kobe McCrary impressed coaches Saturday.
Gophers rallying around assistant coach Mike Sherels

Gophers rallying around assistant coach Mike Sherels

The team and family are keeping details of Mike Sherels' medical condition private. Players press forward, determined to honor their beloved assistant coach.
Gophers cancel 2017 'scholarship seating' football ticket hike

Gophers cancel 2017 'scholarship seating' football ticket hike

With Gophers football season ticket sales slumping, Athletic Director Mark Coyle has pulled the plug on a scheduled "scholarship seating" price increase for 2017.
Wolitarsky rewrites his own story as a Gophers leader

Wolitarsky rewrites his own story as a Gophers leader

Drew Wolitarsky was born and raised in Southern California, but his father's side of the family has deep Minnesota roots.
Gophers top rusher from 2015 will miss 3-5 weeks because of foot injury

Gophers top rusher from 2015 will miss 3-5 weeks because of foot injury

Gophers running back Shannon Brooks will be out three to five weeks because of a foot injury, meaning he might miss the start of…
Santoso gets a kick out of just being Gophers punter

Santoso gets a kick out of just being Gophers punter

The Gophers have one of the top field-goal kickers in the Big Ten, and they are shifting him to punter.
Gophers rushing leader Shannon Brooks dealing with injured foot

Gophers rushing leader Shannon Brooks dealing with injured foot

Brooks missed practice because of a foot injury and was being re-evaluated. He made a brief appearance near the sideline and then continued receiving treatment.
Gophers tackle Pirsig enters senior season leaner and meaner

Gophers tackle Pirsig enters senior season leaner and meaner

The senior right tackle from Blue Earth entered Gophers training camp ready to raise his stock for the NFL draft -- and on board with a new team culture.
Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner looks healthy in team drills

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner looks healthy in team drills

Gophers linebacker Cody Poock intercepted Mitch Leidner's pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown on the very first play of Saturday's full team drill. But things got better.
Odd couple: Gophers get defensive advice from former Badgers assistant

Odd couple: Gophers get defensive advice from former Badgers assistant

Dave Aranda flummoxed the Gophers with his deceptive blitzing strategies for three years as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator. But after taking a new job, he was open to helping a former rival.
Season of high expectations begins now for Gophers

Season of high expectations begins now for Gophers

Improvements in five categories will help determine whether the team meets the lofty goals espoused by coach Tracy Claeys, who is starting his first full season as head coach.
At home in Kansas, Tracy Claeys is a homebody -- and a hero

At home in Kansas, Tracy Claeys is a homebody -- and a hero

Amid his offseason preparation, Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys knew one sure way to stay centered. He returned to the place where he grew up as a quiet, industrious kid from a family that worked tirelessly to survive financially.
Gophers' rivals Wisconsin and Iowa talk about challenges ahead

Gophers' rivals Wisconsin and Iowa talk about challenges ahead

One day after the Gophers took their turn at Big Ten Media Days, their two border rivals were in the spotlight Tuesday, explaining their strengths and weaknesses.
Quarterback Leidner is confident after strong offseason

Quarterback Leidner is confident after strong offseason

Mitch Leidner remembers being in the weight room when he first heard he'd been projected as a first-round pick in a "Way-too-early 2017 NFL Mock Draft" by an ESPN analyst.

Former Gophers punter Mortell mourns loss of cohorts

CHICAGO – The deaths of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler hit especially hard for former Gopher Peter Mortell.This…
Big Ten football — talking about it, anyway — starts Monday

Big Ten football — talking about it, anyway — starts Monday

Big Ten media days start Monday in Chicago, and there will be heavy hearts after Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler were killed in a car crash Saturday.
Gophers picked to finish near bottom of Big Ten West by media

Gophers picked to finish near bottom of Big Ten West by media

"Easier" schedule fails to inspire confidence: team picked to finish 5th in West in preseason poll.
Gophers' Beth Goetz leaving Minnesota for job at UConn

Gophers' Beth Goetz leaving Minnesota for job at UConn

She will be chief operating officer for Huskies athletics.
Lucia happy for AD who 'actually knows where Mariucci is'

Lucia happy for AD who 'actually knows where Mariucci is'

Speaking to supporters on the Gopher Road Trip, Don Lucia took a jab at former AD Norwood Teague, who was seldom seen at Mariucci Arena.
Catcher/cleanup hitter leads Gophers baseball comeback

Catcher/cleanup hitter leads Gophers baseball comeback

Junior Austin Athmann helped power Minnesota to a surprising season, and a spot in the NCAA regionals.
New Gophers AD tells Robinson: 'You are not to be on campus'

New Gophers AD tells Robinson: 'You are not to be on campus'

New athletic director Mark Coyle placed wrestling coach J Robinson on paid leave during the school's investigation into his team's alleged drug abuse.
Road trip: New AD Coyle has a first day on the job to remember

Road trip: New AD Coyle has a first day on the job to remember

On his first official day on the job, fans in Hutchinson greeted new Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle with concerns and optimism. "It's really tough staying loyal," one fan said.
Robinson's agent says U hiding truth; second probe to begin

Robinson's agent says U hiding truth; second probe to begin

The drug abuse controversy that started one week ago within the University of Minnesota wrestling team escalated again Tuesday.
Agent: Gophers wrestling coach notified AD of drug suspicions

Agent: Gophers wrestling coach notified AD of drug suspicions

J Robinson's agent disputed allegations that the Gophers wrestling coach covered up a prescription drug issue within the team, saying Robinson informed interim athletic director Beth Goetz of the situation.
Gophers baseball team back in NCAA tournament for first time since 2010

Gophers baseball team back in NCAA tournament for first time since 2010

Four days after their longtime pitching coach's death from leukemia, the Gophers arrived at their clubhouse Monday, unsure they'd get another chance to don the maroon and gold.
New Gophers AD Coyle arrives to a full agenda when he starts this week

New Gophers AD Coyle arrives to a full agenda when he starts this week

Allegations of drug abuse by wrestlers add to the new Gophers AD's long to-do list.
Robinson's Gophers wrestling coaching career could be in jeopardy

Robinson's Gophers wrestling coaching career could be in jeopardy

J Robinson, the longtime, title-winning Gophers wrestling coach, is under investigation in a drug case involving members of his team.
Gophers pitching coach Oakes remembered for values, leadership

Gophers pitching coach Oakes remembered for values, leadership

Todd Oakes, who spent 18 years as Gophers pitching coach, mentoring Twins closer Glen Perkins and others, died Thursday after a four-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia, his family confirmed. He was 55.
Gophers coach tried to handle Xanax abuse internally, source says

Gophers coach tried to handle Xanax abuse internally, source says

Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson offered "amnesty" to any athlete who cooperated and declined to provide information to police, a wrestler says.
After fastball to the face, Gophers star Motl revels in first place

After fastball to the face, Gophers star Motl revels in first place

Thirteen months after taking an 86-miles-per-hour fastball to the face, Dan Motl is among the leaders of a team that enters the Big Ten baseball tournament Wednesday as the No. 1 seed.
Gophers baseball aims to bolster NCAA case in Big Ten tournament

Gophers baseball aims to bolster NCAA case in Big Ten tournament

Big Ten champs drop regular-season finale but enter conference tournament with lofty aspirations.
Grieving Gophers hope to honor pitching coach with Big Ten title

Grieving Gophers hope to honor pitching coach with Big Ten title

The Gophers baseball team has heavy hearts as they try to win a Big Ten championship this weekend. Pitching coach Todd Oakes this week was placed in home hospice care.
Taylor LeMay has caught on well with Gophers softball

Taylor LeMay has caught on well with Gophers softball

Taylor LeMay has started all but three games at catcher for the Gophers the past three years and is a key part of their success heading into Friday's NCAA tournament opener against North Dakota State.
Gophers' ace Groenewegen beats teams in every way possible

Gophers' ace Groenewegen beats teams in every way possible

Sara Groenewegen's two-day Big Ten tournament totals: 24 innings pitched, six earned runs, 29 strikeouts ­— and 395 pitches. Oh, and a three-run home run.
'My new university': Kill takes associate AD job at Kansas State

'My new university': Kill takes associate AD job at Kansas State

"I know my coaching career's over, and I understand that," Jerry Kill said. "But I just can't sit around and look at a lake and roll my fingers. That'd be the worst health [decision] I could ever make."
Gophers move kicker Santoso to punter

Gophers move kicker Santoso to punter

Ryan Santoso will replace Peter Mortell as the Gophers punter this fall, giving up most of the team's placekicking duties, coach Tracy Claeys said Monday.
Another fine mess: Coyle takes on tough job at the U

Another fine mess: Coyle takes on tough job at the U

New Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said that he hasn't purposely gone seeking difficult jobs. "That's just how it's played out," he said.

Mark Coyle officially approved to be Gophers AD

Coyle, 47, received a five-year contract with a base salary of $850,000 per year. He had previously served as the Syracuse AD, but left that post after less than 11 months on the job.
Coyle's hiring 'changes discussion' about Gophers athletics

Coyle's hiring 'changes discussion' about Gophers athletics

Mark Coyle barely had time to introduce himself to Gophers coaches as their new athletics director, yet his presence already could be felt around campus.
New Gophers AD Mark Coyle will come in with plenty to do

New Gophers AD Mark Coyle will come in with plenty to do

Eric Kaler hired Coyle to help restore the Gophers' integrity, luring the former U athletics official away from Syracuse University after only 11 months there.
Richard Pitino far overspent on private jet travel, U audit finds

Richard Pitino far overspent on private jet travel, U audit finds

Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has spent twice as much on private jet travel as his contract allows since arriving at Minnesota, according to an internal university audit obtained by the Star Tribune.
Tuesday: Gophers AD search down to final 4 candidates, sources say

Tuesday: Gophers AD search down to final 4 candidates, sources say

Interim AD Beth Goetz and three outside candidates are being interviewed this week. Two sources believe president Eric Kaler could have his preferred candidate picked within a few days.
No. 23 Gophers softball gearing up for season's final push

No. 23 Gophers softball gearing up for season's final push

The hard-hitting Gophers are second in the Big Ten as the regular season schedule wraps up this weekend with a three-game series at Iowa.
'Way-too-early' mock pegs Leidner as first-round pick

'Way-too-early' mock pegs Leidner as first-round pick

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner had been listed as a possible 2017 draft sleeper. On Thursday, the hype went to a new level.In his "Way-too-early 2017…
Najarian, Goetz, Frazier among 9 top candidates in U AD search

Najarian, Goetz, Frazier among 9 top candidates in U AD search

Sources say a group of top candidates, consisting of interim AD Beth Goetz and eight men with Upper Midwest ties, has emerged.
Gophers getting some attention for NFL draft

Gophers getting some attention for NFL draft

Four from the U were drafted in 2015, and three could be selected in middle to late rounds this year.
Illinois coaching hire shakes up spring in Big Ten

Illinois coaching hire shakes up spring in Big Ten

Lovie Smith's arrival could revitalize the Illini, which means trouble for the Gophers and other Big Ten teams.
U's athletic director job description indicates preference for experience

U's athletic director job description indicates preference for experience

At a time when some boosters are pushing for former Gophers who've succeeded outside the college sports realm, the job description shows those candidates could face an uphill climb.
Streveler leaves Gophers football team, will transfer to another school

Streveler leaves Gophers football team, will transfer to another school

The former U quarterback will be eligible to play for another team right away.
Running game stands out in Gophers' spring game

Running game stands out in Gophers' spring game

Ground game rolls for Gold team, while Leidner backup Croft struggles.
Gophers notes: Marshall lineman Andries commits to Gophers

Gophers notes: Marshall lineman Andries commits to Gophers

The Gophers received big news Saturday before the spring game, when highly coveted recruit Blaise Andries committed to Minnesota.
Spring game enables Gophers to set foundation for the fall

Spring game enables Gophers to set foundation for the fall

It will be the first spring game for Tracy Claeys as a head coach, the first as offensive coordinator for Jay Johnson, and the first spring game period for quarterbacks Demry Croft and Seth Green.
Gophers' young secondary not looking to backpedal

Gophers' young secondary not looking to backpedal

Former Gophers captain Briean Boddy-Calhoun has a nickname for his school that he'd like to see stick: DBU (Defensive Back University).

Gophers alter their approach for the spring game

The Gophers will divide into two teams — Gold vs. White —­ and play two 40-minute halves with a running clock. The coaches plan to reward the winning team but haven't yet said how.
Gophers receivers following the lead of 'Coach KJ'

Gophers receivers following the lead of 'Coach KJ'

As KJ Maye prepares for his pro career, he's helping those who will try to replace his production with the Gophers' football team.
Expectations hiked for Gophers offensive line

Expectations hiked for Gophers offensive line

New coach of that unit emphasizes finishing.
U regents battle over proposal to take more control on coaching contracts

U regents battle over proposal to take more control on coaching contracts

The board's chairman said, "I just think if this resolution passes, we're going to ... have less interest from very capable (athletic director) candidates."
Mobile tackling dummy tested at Gophers football practice

Mobile tackling dummy tested at Gophers football practice

They're just the latest team to try out a remote-controlled tackling dummy from a company called MVP (Mobile Virtual Player). The device was designed by a team of engineers at Dartmouth to help teams reduce practice injuries.
Gophers showing the intensity Claeys wants during spring practice

Gophers showing the intensity Claeys wants during spring practice

Coach Tracy Claeys said the charged atmosphere helps his players practice hard. "If they don't bite when they're a puppy, they won't bite," he said.
Gophers AD search fights 'done deal' perceptions

Gophers AD search fights 'done deal' perceptions

As the University of Minnesota expands the national search for its next athletic director, the school could be battling a perception that the eventual choice, interim athletic director Beth Goetz, already has the job.
Seth Green shows Gophers he's a quick learner

Seth Green shows Gophers he's a quick learner

Green graduated from high school early, enrolled at the university in January and is competing in his first spring football practice. Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said Green "has done tremendous."
U athletes, local business leaders will help lead athletic director search

U athletes, local business leaders will help lead athletic director search

President Eric Kaler announced that a16-member committee including big names in business and current and former Gophers athletes will work with a search firm to drive the process.
Gophers women's hockey coach Frost shrugs off dynasty talk

Gophers women's hockey coach Frost shrugs off dynasty talk

Brad Frost dismisses dynasty talk, even after a fourth women's national title in five years.
Gophers women win NCAA hockey title

Gophers women win NCAA hockey title

Boston College had the perfect record. The Gophers had the perfect combination of everything else -- for the fourth time in five years.
Kessel feels 'fortunate' to celebrate another NCAA title

Kessel feels 'fortunate' to celebrate another NCAA title

Championship ensures Amanda Kessel has no regrets about her U encore.
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