Staff Directory 10644611

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
Gophers baseball likely needs to win Big Ten tourney to make NCAAs

Gophers baseball likely needs to win Big Ten tourney to make NCAAs

Two losses to Purdue last Saturday cost the Gophers a regular-season Big Ten title and dimmed their postseason hopes.
Now there's much more buzz when Gophers coaches hit the road

Now there's much more buzz when Gophers coaches hit the road

Organizers estimated that about 300 people turned out in Winona on Monday to see P.J. Fleck and Richard Pitino, dwarfing the crowd that came to the event last time it was in town.
All about that change: Groenewegen dominates Gophers softball opponents

All about that change: Groenewegen dominates Gophers softball opponents

Sara Groenewegen and her changeup give the Gophers a chance vs. anyone. She has eight career no-hitters and holds the Gophers' all-time strikeout record, with 1,187.
Gophers softball team is No. 1 (if you poll college coaches)

Gophers softball team is No. 1 (if you poll college coaches)

After not being among the 16 teams seeded in the NCAA tournament, the Gophers were treated more favorably by coaches voting in the final softball poll of the season.
Shocked, angry Gophers vow to regroup after NCAA softball snub

Shocked, angry Gophers vow to regroup after NCAA softball snub

After seeing they'd be sent on the road, one Gophers softball player said: "We were mad, sad, angry, whatever. But we took a couple minutes to digest it and tried to find a way to move on."
NCAA issues statement about Gophers softball not being seeded

NCAA issues statement about Gophers softball not being seeded

Performance against Top-25 teams, strength of schedule were factors.
54-3 Gophers softball team snubbed in NCAA seeding

54-3 Gophers softball team snubbed in NCAA seeding

The Gophers have the best record in Division I softball, at 54-3, but in a stunning development Sunday night, that wasn't enough to land them one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Fleck's top assistants will combine to make more than $3.2 million next season

Fleck's top assistants will combine to make more than $3.2 million next season

The University of Minnesota is investing nearly $7 million next season on the sidelines for a new era of Gophers football.
Gophers might be on softball collision course with Michigan

Gophers might be on softball collision course with Michigan

Big Ten's top two teams could meet for first time this season this weekend in Ann Arbor.
Lindaman player of the year as Gophers dominate Big Ten softball awards

Lindaman player of the year as Gophers dominate Big Ten softball awards

The Gophers won their first regular season conference title since 1991, which is also the last time the program had a Coach of the Year honoree.
Big bat, big fun: Dwyer is the life of Gophers softball's 48-3 party

Big bat, big fun: Dwyer is the life of Gophers softball's 48-3 party

The No. 4 Gophers are having a lot of fun this softball season — no one more so than hot-hitting infielder Sydney Dwyer.
Rare Minneapolis kid settles in for Gophers all over the baseball field

Rare Minneapolis kid settles in for Gophers all over the baseball field

Super-utility player Jordan Kozicky of Southwest is the U's first Minneapolis City Conference starter in decades and is among the team's top hitters.
Lindaman already becoming a home run legend for Gophers softball

Lindaman already becoming a home run legend for Gophers softball

Kendyl Lindaman on Wednesday hit her 16th home run of the season for the No. 4-ranked Gophers, breaking the single-season record which had stood since 2003.
Well-armed: Pitching gives Gophers chance to repeat as Big Ten champs

Well-armed: Pitching gives Gophers chance to repeat as Big Ten champs

The surprising success of the pitching staff has the Gophers in first place in the Big Ten race.
Big Ten football spring report: Michigan State in danger of falling behind in stacked East

Big Ten football spring report: Michigan State in danger of falling behind in stacked East

Big Ten power Michigan State slipped to 3-9 last year, and the Spartans have had an even worse offseason.
Fleck propels Gophers football recruiting ranking briefly into top 10

Fleck propels Gophers football recruiting ranking briefly into top 10

When college football fans search for the Gophers in national recruiting rankings, they usually have to scroll past the traditional powers and click "next page."
Gophers notes: Johnson's six receptions catch Fleck's eye

Gophers notes: Johnson's six receptions catch Fleck's eye

Tyler Johnson led all Gophers receivers with six catches for 64 yards in Saturday's spring game, showing why new coach P.J. Fleck has been raving about the sophomore.
Fleck's new-look Gophers to get 'game' action for the first time

Fleck's new-look Gophers to get 'game' action for the first time

In front of a handful of recruits, Gophers' 2017 potential starters will play in game scenarios at Saturday's spring game.
U walk-on learns of scholarship via team's Easter egg hunt

U walk-on learns of scholarship via team's Easter egg hunt

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck found a unique way to deliver happy news to his team about former Eden Prairie star Blake Cashman.
Fleck has high hopes for Gophers spring game, despite low numbers

Fleck has high hopes for Gophers spring game, despite low numbers

Due to injuries and players recovering from surgery, Saturday's Gophers spring game will have limited participation. "It's going to be a game within a bunch of drills," coach P.J. Fleck said.
Gophers' new offensive line coach makes do with depleted numbers

Gophers' new offensive line coach makes do with depleted numbers

In 20 years of coaching, Ed Warinner has never experienced something like the Gophers going through spring practice with only five healthy offensive linemen.
Gophers have 1-2 punch in running backs Smith, Brooks

Gophers have 1-2 punch in running backs Smith, Brooks

Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks have impressed the new staff and have a good relationship on and off field.
Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca has Fleck's full trust

Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca has Fleck's full trust

Under Kirk Ciarrocca, Western Michigan's offense culminated a three-year run with the fewest turnovers in the nation last season. Now, he's tasked with doing the same at Minnesota.
Gophers starting quarterback call may not be made until August

Gophers starting quarterback call may not be made until August

Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft appear to be the leading contenders, but Seth Green and Tanner Morgan are two others in the running.
Gophers linebacker Coughlin putting anger over Claeys firing behind him

Gophers linebacker Coughlin putting anger over Claeys firing behind him

Carter Coughlin's anger was there for everyone to see. The University of Minnesota had just fired football coach Tracy Claeys, and the linebacker from Eden Prairie was venting on Twitter.
Receivers coach Matt Simon sees 'growth' in Gophers corps

Receivers coach Matt Simon sees 'growth' in Gophers corps

When Matt Simon was a wide receiver at Northern Illinois, P.J. Fleck served as his position coach.
P.J. Fleck went to great lengths to keep Winfield from leaving U

P.J. Fleck went to great lengths to keep Winfield from leaving U

One of P.J. Fleck's most important selling jobs since taking over as Gophers coach came when he convinced sophomore safety Antoine Winfield Jr. not to transfer.
Gophers QB Rhoda went from job hunting to learning Fleck's offense

Gophers QB Rhoda went from job hunting to learning Fleck's offense

Conor Rhoda has emerged as a leading candidate to become the next Gophers starting quarterback, which is quite a twist, considering he almost gave up football last winter.

Gophers notes: Line takes another hit; Gannon visits practice

Sam Schlueter returned to practice Saturday, giving the Gophers six healthy offensive linemen, but then Quinn Oseland suffered a lower-body injury.
Five reinstated Gophers football players join team for spring practice

Five reinstated Gophers football players join team for spring practice

The players, who won their appeals overturning university sanctions, are safety Antoine Winfield Jr., cornerback Antonio Shenault, running back Kobe McCrary and quarterbacks Seth Green and Mark Williams.
Three Gophers football players cleared in alleged sexual assault case

Three Gophers football players cleared in alleged sexual assault case

Antoine Winfield Jr., Kobe McCrary and Mark Williams have been cleared; cornerback KiAnte Hardin is still facing expulsion, their attorneys confirmed Monday.
Gophers women's hockey team takes aim at 2018 NCAA title game

Gophers women's hockey team takes aim at 2018 NCAA title game

Gophers coach Brad Frost has a strong incoming class, including Amy Potomak.
Clarkson edges Gophers women's hockey in Frozen Four semifinals

Clarkson edges Gophers women's hockey in Frozen Four semifinals

A third-period goal with 91 seconds left in regulation put the Golden Knights into Sunday's final against Wisconsin.
Gophers' reunited top line could be key to another women's hockey title

Gophers' reunited top line could be key to another women's hockey title

The top line of Kelly Pannek, Dani Cameranesi and Sarah Potomak was overwhelming opponents before Cameranesi first got hurt in early December.
Gophers turn it on during Pro Day to make case for NFL teams

Gophers turn it on during Pro Day to make case for NFL teams

At least six Gophers are trying to keep pipeline to pros going.
Ask Sparty: Gophers have dangerous opponent in Middle Tennessee

Ask Sparty: Gophers have dangerous opponent in Middle Tennessee

The Gophers drew trouble with this first-round matchup against Middle Tennessee. Just ask Michigan State, which lost to the 15th-seeded Blue Raiders last March.
Ready to defend: Gophers women back to Frozen Four after beating UMD

Ready to defend: Gophers women back to Frozen Four after beating UMD

UMD had won three consecutive games against the two-time defending national champion Gophers, earning home-ice advantage for this NCAA quarterfinal. But Minnesota won the game that mattered most.
Lee Stecklein leads Gophers in push for another NCAA women's hockey title

Lee Stecklein leads Gophers in push for another NCAA women's hockey title

Beating UMD is the next step if Lee Stecklein is going to reach that goal.
U to self-report minor NCAA violation involving Fleck

U to self-report minor NCAA violation involving Fleck

Athletic director Mark Coyle has spoken with Western Michigan AD Kathy Beauregard to reassure her that P.J. Fleck isn't recruiting his former football players, athletic department spokesman Jake Ricker confirmed.
Gophers, with Fleck fully in charge, get off to elite start for spring ball

Gophers, with Fleck fully in charge, get off to elite start for spring ball

U football spring practice begins with volume turned up to 11 under their new head coach.
Defending champ Gophers survive the bubble, but tough women's hockey road awaits

Defending champ Gophers survive the bubble, but tough women's hockey road awaits

The Gophers have made the NCAA tournament in all 10 of Brad Frost's seasons as head coach, but they lived on the bubble this season before finding out they'll have a rematch at UMD on Saturday.
WCHA semifinals: Gophers fall to UMD in 2OT

WCHA semifinals: Gophers fall to UMD in 2OT

The Gophers got good news with the return of Dani Cameranesi but fell to the Bulldogs 2-1 in double overtime
Close call: U women's hockey survives elimination scare in playoffs

Close call: U women's hockey survives elimination scare in playoffs

A loss to Bemidji State in the final game of their best-o-f three series could well have ended the season without giving the Gophers a chance to defend their national title.
Take them into the ballgame: U.S. Bank Stadium makes baseball debut

Take them into the ballgame: U.S. Bank Stadium makes baseball debut

The Gophers will be part of Friday's first day of baseball inside U.S. Bank Stadium. At 6 a.m., Century College of White Bear Lake will play Iowa Central in the stadium's first baseball game.

Gophers land dual-threat quarterback for 2018 recruiting class

P.J. Fleck landed a quarterback he'd been coveting for the Gophers' 2018 recruiting class Sunday, when Brennan Armstrong of Shelby, Ohio, announced he was verbally…
Fleck is quick with scholarship offers – outside of Minnesota

Fleck is quick with scholarship offers – outside of Minnesota

The tally so far: 134 offers to join Gophers football, but none to players who wore a high school uniform in Minnesota last fall. However, P.J. Fleck notes this weekend that could change.
Wake-up call: Fleck wants to move Gophers practices to mornings

Wake-up call: Fleck wants to move Gophers practices to mornings

One potential drawback to morning practices would be trimming the list of available undergraduate classes, but Fleck sees academic benefits, too.
Fleck commits $50K of own money to secure 'Row the Boat' for Gophers

Fleck commits $50K of own money to secure 'Row the Boat' for Gophers

The new Gophers coach P.J. Fleck bought the rights to his motivational phrase.
'I don't think he had any ego.' Colleagues remember Christensen

'I don't think he had any ego.' Colleagues remember Christensen

Known as the Voice of the Gophers, Christensen retired from full-time broadcasting in 1993, but continued doing Gophers football and basketball play-by-play until 2001.
Overturned suspensions should leave Fleck with options

Overturned suspensions should leave Fleck with options

Four players appear likely to return to the Gophers football team.
Mitch Leidner will bring his NFL dreams to Scouting Combine

Mitch Leidner will bring his NFL dreams to Scouting Combine

The former Gophers QB isn't as hyped in February as he was last summer, after struggling during his senior season.
Fleck says his recruiting class marks 'a monumental day for Gophers football'

Fleck says his recruiting class marks 'a monumental day for Gophers football'

New Gophers coach P.J. Fleck had just two and a half weeks to build the Class of 2017. "We knocked it out of the park, for the time we had," Fleck said.

Offensive linemen will be scarce for Gophers' spring practices

The Gophers need to replace two starters — Jonah Pirsig (graduation), Tyler Moore (center). And last year, injuries limited others such as Garrison Wright, Vincent Calhoun and Jared Weyler.
P.J. Fleck pulled off a signing day shuffle for Gophers

P.J. Fleck pulled off a signing day shuffle for Gophers

P.J. Fleck, 36, came to Minnesota with a reputation as a skilled recruiter. And in 26 days, Fleck transformed Gophers by changing 16 recruits' minds.
Three more former Western Michigan assistants coming to U

Three more former Western Michigan assistants coming to U

The next wave of WMU assistants coming to the Gophers includes a Twin Cities native who used to be an assistant at St. Thomas
Fleck hires W. Michigan's Ciarrocca as Gophers offensive coordinator

Fleck hires W. Michigan's Ciarrocca as Gophers offensive coordinator

The Broncos ranked ninth in the nation in scoring offense this past season, averaging 41.6 points per game.
Sawvel apparently out as Fleck interviews Arkansas defensive coordinator

Sawvel apparently out as Fleck interviews Arkansas defensive coordinator

ESPN reported the new Gophers football coach was going outside the program to hire a defensive coordinator.
With new Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, 'it's not an act'

With new Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, 'it's not an act'

Boisterous new Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has always known who he is - and what he wants.
Fleck brings crystal clear vision to Gophers football program

Fleck brings crystal clear vision to Gophers football program

P.J. Fleck on Friday spoke excitedly about himself and changes he intends to make. "I'm going to promise you a lot," he said, "because that's the way I live my life."
Gophers closing deal with P.J. Fleck

Gophers closing deal with P.J. Fleck

Signs pointed toward the Gophers hiring the Western Michigan coach, but former LSU coach Les Miles loomed as a fallback.
Next questions for U football: Who will coach, and for how much?

Next questions for U football: Who will coach, and for how much?

The University of Minnesota likely made the most expensive coaching decision in its history when it fired Tracy Claeys, and another multimillion dollar commitment comes next.
Coyle seeks to 'move quickly' on new hire

Coyle seeks to 'move quickly' on new hire

Gophers' Mark Coyle gave a blistering assessment of the football program after firing coach Tracy Claeys.
Speculation on Gophers' next coach starts with Western Michigan's Fleck

Speculation on Gophers' next coach starts with Western Michigan's Fleck

Other names to watch include Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, former LSU coach Les Miles, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl and North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman, who was quarterback on Coyle's high school team at Waterloo (Iowa) Columbus Catholic.
Claeys touts program, makes case to stay as Gophers coach

Claeys touts program, makes case to stay as Gophers coach

Gophers coach, soon to meet with AD Mark Coyle, stated his case to remain in charge.
Gophers AD to meet with Claeys on Tuesday

Gophers AD to meet with Claeys on Tuesday

Tracy Claeys' future isn't clear after the fallout from the Gophers football team's sexual assault case.
Mitch Leidner's brother played an unexpected role in final game

Mitch Leidner's brother played an unexpected role in final game

Shortly after thinking his career was over, Matt Leidner started at center for the first time for the Gophers in the Holiday Bowl.
Resilient Gophers stun Cougars to win Holiday Bowl

Resilient Gophers stun Cougars to win Holiday Bowl

Minnesota ignored distractions and thwarted Washington State's potent passing game.
Gophers' Leidner brothers get to start together in Holiday Bowl

Gophers' Leidner brothers get to start together in Holiday Bowl

In a twist of injury fate, Mitch Leidner wound up finishing his Gophers career with his brother, Matt, as the team's starting center.
On morning of bowl game, Claeys surprises 91-year-old Gophers fans at breakfast

On morning of bowl game, Claeys surprises 91-year-old Gophers fans at breakfast

The Quarnstroms traveled from Marshall for their first Gophers bowl game.
For Gophers football: A bowl game; then what?

For Gophers football: A bowl game; then what?

U supporters express concern, uneasiness over program's future.
Gophers QB Leidner aims to close career on high note

Gophers QB Leidner aims to close career on high note

The Gophers QB has put up decent statistics in bowl games.
Gophers' Rodney Smith ready for bigger role, on and off field

Gophers' Rodney Smith ready for bigger role, on and off field

The 2017 co-captain is determined to bring a positive image to a scarred U football program.
Washington State's Mike Leach remains a maverick

Washington State's Mike Leach remains a maverick

The coach on the winning side of the Gophers' epic collapse in 2006 bowl wields strong opinions.
Gophers, Claeys try to return the focus to football

Gophers, Claeys try to return the focus to football

Coach Tracy Claeys declined to discuss boycott, suspensions, his job status.
Gophers football players: No regrets about boycott

Gophers football players: No regrets about boycott

The Gophers also said they took a stand against an administration — namely president Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle — that gave the team minimal explanation for the suspensions, citing federal privacy laws.
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