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.
Gophers wide receiver Victor Keise has voluntarily dismissed his claims against the NCAA, as part of Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit, according to AL.com, which received a copy of the court filing today. No reason was given for Keise's decision.
Gophers tight end Moses Alipate remains part of O'Bannon's lawsuit, along with four other active college players, but now Keise has been taken off that list. The players are challenging the NCAA's right to use their likenesses in video games.
Alipate and Keise are among the first six current college football players to join the lawsuit, which is challenging the NCAA's right to use their names and likenesses in video games.
The other four current players are Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, Arizona kicker Jake Smith, Clemson defensive back Darius Robinson and Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham.
The 6-5, 281-pound Alipate, who was recruited as a quarterback out of Bloomington Jefferson, has converted to tight end for the Gophers and has yet to play a down heading into his senior season. Keise, from Coral Springs, Fla., has played sparingly heading into his senior season.
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would not renew its agreement with the video game manufacturer EA Sports.
Every Gophers athletics team received passing marks Tuesday, when the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, and guard Malik Smith moved one step closer to gaining immediate eligibility after transferring from Florida International University.
FIU’s men’s basketball team received a one-year postseason ban for posting a multi-year APR score of 858, well below the 900 cutoff point. Athletes who transfer from a team that is banned from the postseason can get a waiver from the NCAA to compete at their new school without having to sit out a year.
The Gophers have filed for that waiver on Smith's behalf. He averaged 14.1 points as a junior last season for FIU and set a single-season school record by making 96 three pointers.
The latest NCAA multi-year numbers examine the school years from 2008-09 to 2011-12. FIU is paying the price for academic struggles under Isiah Thomas, the coach who preceded Richard Pitino.
Pitino has been credited for helping turn around FIU academically, as well as on the court, before becoming the new Gophers coach.
The annual APR offers a snapshot of how each team is performing academically. The Gophers football team’s multi-year APR increased from 932 last year to 955 this year. In 2009, under then-coach Tim Brewster, the Gophers posted a multi-year APR of 915 and were penalized with a loss of scholarships.
This year, five Gophers teams received perfect 1,000 scores -- baseball, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics and women’s soccer. Other notable Gophers scores included 955 for men’s basketball and 987 for men’s hockey.
The Big Ten has yet to land more than three teams in the NCAA baseball tournament since the field expanded to 64 in 1999. As recently as 2011 and 2012, the conference sent just one team into the NCAA field.
This year, that could change, especially if an underdog such as Minnesota wins this week's Big Ten Tournament at Target Field.
Here's a look at the latest Pseudo-RPI rankings on Boydsworld.com: Indiana (13), Illinois (30), Michigan State (39), Nebraska (44), Ohio State (60), Gophers (126), Michigan (151).
In his latest College Stock Report, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt projects the Big Ten to get four bids, and he makes a strong case for Michigan State to make it, even though the Spartans didn't qualify for the six-team Big Ten tourney.
The Big Ten coaches at Tuesday's press conference all agreed that the conference has improved.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the conference for 23 years, and by far and away, this is the best this conference has ever been," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said.
Gophers coach John Anderson credits the commitment schools have made toward facilities, recruiting budgets and coaching hires, along with the Big Ten Network, which will televise this week's entire tournament, live.
First-year Michigan coach Erik Bakich said: "With the elite institutions that we’re a part of, it would be a travesty to think that the Big Ten in baseball would only be a one- or two-bid league. And from here on out, I know we would love to see this be a four- or five-plus-bid league. And it can do that."
The tournament starts Wednesday at noon, when Minnesota faces Illinois. Look for my story on Gophers ace Tom Windle in tonight's first editions, and I'll have coverage from Target Field throughout the week.
If it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Big Ten would expand to eventually add more teams besides Rutgers and Maryland -- hold that thought.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told The Sporting News on Tuesday that further expansion is unlikely. There had been speculation that the conference was targeting ACC schools such as North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
But this week, the ACC adopted a new TV rights deal that ties all 14 teams and Notre Dame into a revenue sharing agreement through 2026-2027. The deal reportedly forces ACC teams to relinquish TV revenue back to the ACC throughout the 14-year contract if they leave the conference.
Asked if that deal would cement the lineups in the five major conferences -- Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Pac 12 and Big 12 -- Delany told the Sporting News, "Given everything that has gone on, yes."
Rutgers and Maryland will join the Big Ten in 2014, making it a 14-team conference. In coming days Big Ten presidents and chancellors are expected to scrap the Legends and Leaders divisions and divide into East and West divisions for 2014:
East: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin.
I'm not convinced the Big Ten is finished expanding. The Rutgers and Maryland developments came out of the blue last year. It's possible, for example, the Big Ten could convince Missouri to leave the SEC, which hasn't tied teams to a long-term TV contract. There are other possibilities, too, but at the very least, the ACC deal should cool the rampant speculation for a while.
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