Turkey of the Year 2011: Zygi Wilf

  • Updated: November 21, 2012 - 5:07 PM

The mood surrounding the Turkey Banquet is always festive, and it takes on a quality that is both giddy and heartwarming when there is a chance to reflect on a grand year in Minnesota sports.

Really, when has it been better for sports fans in this region than in the 12 months since the Turkeys were last awarded?

In December, the University of Minnesota did the Maroon and Gold proud by winning its second national football title in three years, defeating Delta State 20-17 on the hallowed turf of Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala.

In April, the University of Minnesota completed a fantastic exacta by defeating Michigan 3-2 in overtime to win the NCAA men's hockey championship, on what was almost home ice at the X in St. Paul.

In September, a thrilling finish for Minnesota's ardent followers of professional baseball was in store, when the Saints needed a victory on the last day of the regular season to achieve wild-card status.

Eventually, the Saints lost the decisive fifth game of the championship series in Grand Prairie, Texas, but they offered a wonderful ride, and it's never a disgrace to lose to the AirHogs.

And then came the greatest October in Minnesota sports history:

Early in the month, the Lynx completed their season-long domination of the WNBA by putting the Atlanta Dream to sleep (clever, hey?) with a three-game sweep to win the title.

Late in the month, the Minnesota Stars -- with the last seed in the playoffs -- whipped Fort Lauderdale in the two-game, total-goal final to win the NASL title.

Who among us can forget the victory parade winding through downtown Minneapolis, with Stars standout Neil Hlavaty wearing his Snoopy aviator hat?

The Turkey Committee faced a mighty challenge in coming up with worthy candidates for the ceremony, what with all this success.

To further limit the committee, it was decided to wait for the justice system of the greatest country in the world (with the possible exception of Australia) to play itself out, and not to consider the Penn State scandal for 2011 Turkeys.

One more item: To save on travel expenses for a number of honorees, we considered renting banquet space at Target Field.

Then the committee's comptroller expressed fear someone might order a Vincent burger and a Summit Pale Ale and put us out of business. We moved a couple of blocks to Lee's Liquor Lounge, where owner/chef Louie Sirian will be serving beef sticks and tap beer.

We've finally made it, as has been the case for 33 previous Thanksgivings, to the honored Turkeys.
TCF Bank Stadium. Never before has the committee honored an inanimate object, but then never before has a $290 million tribute to a sports team turned into a white elephant in three seasons.
You can't get there for kickoff without a two-hour head start. And it takes longer to get off campus after a game. Plus, they can't fill the place even when folks wearing Wisconsin red occupy 20,000 seats.

We've asked the university to send over the individual responsible for not putting heat coils under the field to accept the Turkey.

Ralph and Rodney. Even without a point guard, there's no way the 2010-11 Gophers could have lost 10 of their last 11 games if Ralph Sampson III and Rodney Williams had used, say, 75 percent of their talent. If they don't pick it up, senior Ralph and junior Rodney have a chance to go down as two of the more notable underachievers in Gophers hoops history.
 
Jim Tressel. A big-time football coach sitting on information that could make his star quarterback ineligible is one thing.

When it's done by a sanctimonious coach, such as Ohio State's "Cheaty McSweater," it's worth a Turkey.

Kurt Rambis. The committee wasn't going to let this ex-Timberwolves coach slip out of town unnoticed. When a highly paid coach goes through the motions as clearly as did Rambis, it's Turkey time.

Bud Selig. OK, it's admirable that the baseball commissioner and his negotiators reached an early deal with the players. That doesn't change the disgust with the addition of second wild-card teams and one-game playoffs -- the most senseless, cheapest kowtow to TV in sports history.

Nevin Shapiro. We've arranged for Nevin to make a video acceptance from prison. We're hoping for a slide show from his favorite Hurricanes/strippers yacht party.

John Gagliardi. There have been plenty of banquets honoring the St. John's coach, but never in recognition of a 63-7 loss to archrival St. Thomas.

Bill Musgrave. It's not the game plans or the plays. It's the embarrassment of having a Vikings offensive coordinator with a play sheet the size of a recipe card, when most NFL guys are working off material as thick as a Cheesecake Factory menu.

Generally, the committee prefers more variety, but when it came to the 2011 Turkeys, this definitely was the year of the Twins. We'll start with the special Twins table:

Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Matt Capps and Jose Mijares are here to represent the failed pitchers.

Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Drew Butera and Delmon Young (in a bravura return to Minnesota) are here to represent the failed position players.

The chairs at the ends of this long table belong to Ron Gardenhire, who went from Manager of the Year to overseer of a dysfunctional clubhouse, and Bill Smith, who went from a symbol of ownership's loyalty to long-time employees to being fired as general manager.

And now ...

Second runner-up: Tsuyoshi Nishioka arrived from Japan as a batting champion and saying his job would be to step on home plate often. Soon, Twins fans were simply hoping that Nishi would remember to step on second base on a forceout.

First runner-up: Joe Mauer. The committee members prove again we will not be intimidated by public clamor in selecting the Turkey of the Year.

Mauer has seven more years to battle bilateral weaknesses and flu-like symptoms while earning $23 million. Many previous individuals have worked their way up from honoree (as was Mauer in 2010) to runner-up status and finally to Grand Turkey.

In the committee's view, it was more important to honor this next fellow while he still was a frequent visitor to Minnesota.

Turkey of the Year:

On July 29, 2005, the Vikings took out full-page ads in the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers. They were signed by Zygi and his brother, Mark, and included the battle cry "A New Tradition Begins Today."

There was a three-point commitment:

-We will build on the Vikings' winning tradition.

Reality: There was a window for that in 2009, but a narrow loss in the NFC Championship Game in January 2010 has been followed by eight victories in 28 games and a team destined to finish last for a second season in a row.

-We will create a respected, world-class organization on the field and in the community.
Reality: A survey revealed that, with a recent surge, the Vikings have taken the NFL lead for most arrests in the past decade.

-We will make sure that the Vikings remain Minnesota's football team.

Reality: Zygi is insisting that the state of Minnesota come up with a minimum of $700 million to provide the bulk of financing for a new stadium -- and to build it precisely where he wants it -- in order to guarantee the future of the franchise in Minnesota.

Everything considered, the selection of the Zygmeister as Turkey of the Year wasn't as tough as you might think.

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Detroit 6:00 PM
Washington
Atlanta 6:30 PM
Miami
Toronto 6:30 PM
New York
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 3 2nd Prd 5:31
NY Islanders 1
New Jersey 1 2nd Prd 3:19
Columbus 0
Arizona 0 2nd Prd
Boston 2
Toronto 6:00 PM
Montreal
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 72 2nd Half 8:57
Morgan State 63
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 67 2nd Half 0:12
Char Southern 69
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 66 2nd Half 0:33
Western Mich 74
Texas 46 2nd Half 12:40
Kansas 42
Chattanooga 29 2nd Half 14:56
UNC Greensboro 41
SE Louisiana 33 2nd Half
Central Arkansas 31
South Dakota St 48 2nd Half 10:01
South Dakota 60
Montana 60 2nd Half 9:25
Eastern Wash 61
Georgia State 44 2nd Half 17:55
Troy 25
Old Dominion 27 2nd Half
North Texas 33
Arkansas State 23 2nd Half
Texas State 34
Texas Southern 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Tennessee St 14 1st Half 9:15
Belmont 23
Princeton 25 1st Half 9:20
Brown 17
Dartmouth 10 1st Half 8:11
Cornell 12
Tennessee 14 1st Half 10:07
Florida 22
Jacksonville St 14 1st Half 8:55
Morehead State 22
San Jose St 20 1st Half 11:07
Nevada 13
Florida A&M 7 1st Half 15:41
NC A&T 9
Iowa 13 1st Half 10:03
Penn State 23
Loyola Marymount 20 1st Half 8:51
Pepperdine 15
Miss State 15 1st Half 7:35
South Carolina 25
Savannah State 5:00 PM
SC State
Miss Valley St 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Southern U
Prairie View 6:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Harvard 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Washington 6:00 PM
Davidson
Syracuse 6:00 PM
Duke
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Elon
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Hartford
Hampton 6:00 PM
Howard
Northwestern 6:00 PM
Illinois
Western Ill 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Kent State
Incarnate Word 6:00 PM
Lamar
Cal State Fullerton 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Marshall
Richmond 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
George Mason 6:00 PM
Saint Louis
Austin Peay 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
Penn 6:00 PM
Yale
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Stetson 6:00 PM
North Florida
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Grand Canyon 6:05 PM
UMKC
Abilene Christian 6:15 PM
New Orleans
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 0 1st Half
Cal Poly 0
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 2nd Half 0:04
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 47 2nd Half 9:54
San Diego 59
Nevada 52 2nd Half 11:56
San Jose St 59
Stephen F Austin 62 2nd Half 3:38
Houston Baptist 54
Incarnate Word 50 2nd Half 7:41
Lamar 71
Abilene Christian 40 2nd Half 9:40
New Orleans 57
Pepperdine 32 2nd Half 11:37
Loyola Marymount 50
San Francisco 69 2nd Half 7:31
Pacific 67
Prairie View 58 2nd Half 10:07
Alabama A&M 57
Hampton 73 2nd Half 12:10
Howard 32
Chicago State 46 2nd Half 7:51
Utah Valley U 58
Cal Poly 53 2nd Half 9:41
Cal-Irvine 60
UC Santa Barbara 40 2nd Half 7:34
UC Davis 36
Marshall 54 2nd Half 9:14
Florida Atlantic 68
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 24 1st Half 6:38
FIU 14
UAB 12 1st Half 16:30
Middle Tennessee 4
Georgia Southern 8 1st Half 10:49
Louisiana 16
Grambling 10 1st Half 13:00
Ark-Pine Bluff 2
Ark-Little Rock 18 1st Half 6:59
TX-Arlington 10
Cornell 8 1st Half 11:49
Dartmouth 15
Columbia 25 1st Half 11:55
Harvard 23
Brown 13 1st Half 10:07
(14) Princeton 19
USC 20 1st Half 10:27
Washington St 18
(24) California 5:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
Yale 6:00 PM
Penn
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Navy
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
(21) Fla Gulf Coast
Long Beach St 6:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Rice 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Colgate 6:30 PM
Lehigh
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz

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