The Gophers announced Tuesday a home-and-home series with Texas Christian in football for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. A nice component of the deal -- aside from the fact that TCU is in the Big 12 and gives the Gophers a BCS opponent that year -- is that TCU is paying the Gophers $500,000 to play the game at TCU in 2014, while Minnesota pays zip for the return home game in 2015. TCU is also taking over the South Dakota State contract -- the game Minnesota replaced in 2015 -- meaning the Gophers aren't on the hook for the $400K buyout of that game.
After a public relations nightmare in October, when the Gophers canceled two games with North Carolina and paid $800,000 in the process, this is a piece of good news that takes much of the edge off that debacle. That said, now Minnesota is playing a Texas school. With that comes plenty of football pride ... and at least one member of the press who doesn't think much of Gophers football.
From Mac Engel of the Star-Telegram:
Show of hands who knew Minnesota has a football team?
That's how it starts. ZING! Granted, the Gophers have wallowed in mediocrity for the last, um, half-century or so. But it's a Big Ten team. The joke doesn't work. But maybe a weather joke will work?
TCU will host the Golden Gophers on Sept. 13, 2014. It will play at Minny on Sept. 3, 2015. (BTW - The Twin Cities are a perfect place to visit in the summer months. U of M is a great campus. There is a lot to do up there, and the weather is usually fantastic in September - the snow doesn't fall until around September 23rd.)
Yes! Never mind that TCU plays in the sweaty concrete wasteland of Ft. Worth and just dive right in.
When Engel sticks to the facts, it's hard to argue with his premise: TCU's Gary Patterson (right) is a master at scheduling lesser BCS foes to make a non-conference schedule look better than it really is. Right now, the Gophers are a bottom-third program in the Big Ten.
The Horned Frogs are new to this BCS business, having moved from the Mountain West just a year ago, but give them credit for recent back-to-back big-time bowl bids and a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season.
This past season? They had a losing record in the Big 12 and fell to Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. So let's not pretend TCU is Alabama.
Engel ends his piece like this:
Basically, this is like adding another Kansas to the schedule. As any good coach knows, you can never play Kansas enough.
TCU defeated Kansas 20-6 in 2012, and historically we can find some parallel between Minnesota and Kansas football. But there is this: Kansas was 1-11 in 2012. Minnesota won six games and at least went to a bowl game. If it is possible to undersell Gophers football -- which is hard to do -- Mac has done it.