Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons 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.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
UPDATE: Shortly before kickoff, Michigan said quarterback Denard Robinson has been ruled out for today's game. Devin Gardner will start.
Denard Robinson is on the field and in uniform, but he's sure not taking many snaps in warmup. Perhaps he's saving himself for the game, but backups Devin Gardner and Russell Bellomy are getting far more work. We'll see who plays.
Same goes for Gophers Ed Olson and A.J. Barker, both of whom are in uniform and warming up, but not working with the starters. Wouldn't be surprised if neither one plays.
Meanwhile, perhaps it's a late-arriving crowd today, but I was struck by how little traffic I encountered around TCF Bank Stadium this morning. The university practically begged students to show up this week, offering a free student ticket and a free guest ticket for every student ticket sold. And with 45 minutes remaining until kickoff, there are perhaps three dozen students in the stands.
But it's hard to blame fans for not wanting to get up and get on the road early on a weekend morning for these 11 a.m. kickoffs. One a year might be fun, sort of make it a novelty, but today is the Gophers' fourth 11 a.m. kickoff of the season, and this one is the most ridiculous -- of the five Big Ten games being played today, it's the only one in the Central time zone. And it's not like Michigan is a poor TV draw.
Blame BTN and ESPN, I know, but it's hard to believe the Big Ten allows its TV colleagues to treat one of its "equal partners" so shabbily. Joel Maturi was told two years ago that the league would make "every effort" to avoid giving Minnesota so many early starts, and there weren't any last year. But this year, it's virtually every week, and it does no favors for Norwood Teague's efforts at increasing interest in the football team. The Gophers would like to encourage more tailgating, but it's not easy when the games start shortly after breakfast.
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