Hartman: 'Good possibilities' for bowls, AD says

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2012 - 6:33 AM

Norwood Teague discussed some of the options this week with colleagues and emerged enthused.

Norwood Teague, back from a meeting of Big Ten athletic directors in Chicago at which various bowls indicated what teams they are interested in hosting, reported that for the next couple of weeks, wins and losses will cause changing scenarios.

"But right now we'd either be slated to go to Phoenix or Houston -- to Phoenix to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or Houston to the Meineke Car Care Bowl," Teague said.

"It depends on wins and losses on our end and other people's end and who qualifies. It should be interesting. I talked to the Northwestern athletic director quite a bit [at the meeting] about the Houston bowl, and they had a fantastic time there last year. There's some good possibilities out there."

In the past Minnesota has been passed up by some bowls because typically Gophers football fans don't travel to bowl games.

"We need to sell ourselves to the bowls," Teague said. "You get to this time of year and you need to make sure bowls know that you will travel and you'll bring a lot of people and you're very eager to be in their bowl.

"One of the things that I'm going to use with bowls is how well and how great the Gopher fan base traveled to Las Vegas this year. There are things like that that are certainly helpful going forward.

"We're going to work hard to overcome that and do a good job selling ourselves to the bowl. Once we get the bid we're going to sell a lot of tickets and really begin to develop a reputation as a program that travels well."

Teague said Jerry Kill's program got a big boost from beating Illinois and qualifying for a bowl.

"It's a great step in the right direction, to say the least," Teague said. "It helps on a number of fronts. It's exciting because we can really build on it in a lot of ways, a lot more practice that the kids are able to get. It will be a lot of fun for the fans and a lot of fun for the program."

Meanwhile, Teague, unhappy with the poor crowd against Michigan, is working hard to try to sell out the final game of the season at home against Michigan State.

"It's a 2:30 start, so that will help things," he said. "Obviously Thanksgiving weekend is a different scenario, but we're selling tickets and TCF is doing a great job partnering with us to sell some tickets, and Cub Foods as well. We're looking to get a great crowd."

Teague said the department is going to investigate why student turnout has been so low.

"I told somebody the other day that we're going to dig down deep in the offseason to get to the point where we're doing some different things and make sure we're doing smart things to continue to generate more and more students coming to games," he said. "Part of it is fan experience, part of that is winning; there's a lot of different things that go into that. But I promise the Gopher fans we're going to work hard in the offseason, do focus groups, do all types of drilling down to improve that situation."

Peterson sensational

Adrian Peterson made a 60-yard run for the third straight game Sunday against the Lions, something no other running back has done in the NFL this year. Now Peterson has 14 career runs of 50 or more yards.

Peterson gave fullback Jerome Felton a lot of credit for the long run against Detroit, a game he finished with 171 yards rushing. "My fullback, Jerome, he came through and stood it up and I was able to get outside and it turned into a big run for us," Peterson said.

Apparently, the Vikings offensive line liked the idea of Peterson running outside more than he has in the past, and it worked last week.

"We just did a good job offensively of getting on the same page and executing," Peterson said. "But when you have an aggressive team like that you want to bounce it out and stretch the defense and get those guys to run and get them tired and that big run will come, and that's what happened. The whole game I kept telling the guys to keep fighting and that it was going to pop, and they believed and kept working and it popped when we needed it."

About Christian Ponder's great performance, Peterson, a big booster of the quarterback, said: "He came out and he was focused and he did what we've seen him do in the past. It was good to see him get back in the rhythm and take advantage of the opportunity and keep this offense going. He did a great job."

Peterson liked how Ponder reacted to all of the negativity regarding his recent play.

"It's all about how you respond to it, it's all about how you think about it," Peterson said. "Obviously his mind is in the right place and he's not worried about what everyone else is saying. If he was he wouldn't have thrown the way he did." Did the Lions victory put the Vikings back in the playoff race?

"I didn't think we were ever out [of the race], but it's good to add a win on," he said.

Jottings

• Kevin Sumlin, the coach of the Texas A&M team that upset Alabama on Saturday, was an assistant coach under Jim Wacker and Glen Mason with the Gophers from 1993 through 1997. From there he had assistant coaching stints with Purdue, A&M and Oklahoma before taking over as the head coach at Houston in 2008. He worked there until A&M hired him as head coach at the end of last season. Sumlin didn't show interest in the Gophers job when it opened up two years ago. ... Tony Levine, a Gophers walk-on from 1993 through 1995 under Wacker, was an assistant under Sumlin at Houston and succeeded Sumlin when he was named the Texas A&M coach.

• Kill was asked to describe Gophers freshman fullback Rodrick Williams: "I think he'll be tremendous. ... He weighs 243 right now, and he's a true freshman. He's built like Ron Dayne was in Wisconsin. He's a true freshman. His best years are ahead of him, there's no question. He's hard to bring down."

• Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez will be a real problem for the Gophers on Saturday, having averaged 16 carries for 108 yards rushing over the past four games.

• Nebraska's new athletic director will be paid $975,000 a year, more than double Teague's pay. .... The Cornhuskers have won 15 straight games against the Gophers.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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