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We were at Gophers basketball media day this afternoon getting all the hot scoops, up to and including what is up with Oto Osenieks and his parrot videos. (We'll have a #onequirk video with him shortly on that).
But the real topic of conversation came up on Twitter after we posted a picture of new head coach Richard Pitino. Now, it's not like he's been invisible in his time here. People know what he looks like. But for whatever reason, the picture we took elicited separate tweets about how he looks like:
Just so you know.
It looked for a while like undrafted free agent Rodney Williams might beat the odds and make the 76ers' roster to start this season. Over the weekend, though, he was reportedly among the team's final cuts -- with Philly actually going down to 14 players, one below the minimum. Per CSN Philly:
Williams, who went undrafted last June after a four-year college career at Minnesota, will remain a part of the organization and play on the D-League Delaware 87ers. Coach Brett Brown has repeatedly talked about being intrigued with Williams’ athleticism and defensive instincts.
Williams was sidelined most of training camp with a hamstring injury and appeared in just the final two preseason games.
The Sixers also cut Royce White -- part of the recruiting class with Williams at Minnesota in 2009, though he never played here -- last week. Philadelphia is going to be awful, perhaps even historically awful, this season. It will be interesting to see if one or both of them gets a shot there at some point.
If you are a nostalgic Minnesota sports fan -- and really, is there any other kind? -- you will want to either tune in or set your DVR for the Big Ten Network at 9:30 p.m. Friday night.
A special on the 1978-79 Gophers men's hockey team -- the last of three Gophers teams to win an NCAA title under Herb Brooks -- will air (conveniently right after the Gophers/BC game on the same channel).
The good folks at BTN were nice enough to send over an advance copy, and we can attest it is worth your while. Among the items we found most interesting:
*Dan Brooks, Herb's son, asserting that the program was in such disarray in 1971-72 that there was a rumor that the administration was going to cut the team from the budget before Herb took over as coach.
*Awesome footage, of course, of 1970s college hockey. Note the size of goalie pads. Also, of course, fantastic hockey hair and unironic mustaches.
*Stories of how hard Brooks worked his players when he wasn't happy.
*The change in recruiting philosophy in Brooks' later years, which helped lead to the 1979 title.
*A nice buildup to the key games in the season.
We won't spoil it all, but you should watch. We imagine it will re-air several times, but this is your first chance.
We just came from Gophers football media access, which was the first opportunity to ask players about last week's development with head coach Jerry Kill taking an indefinite leave of absence as he works to get his epilepsy under control.
The universal message from kicker Chris Hawthorne, offensive lineman Jon Christenson, tight end Maxx Williams and defensive back Brock Vereen: They are fully prepared to move on with business as usual and are hoping to draw on Kill for inspiration in their game against Northwestern on Saturday.
How that all comes together, of course, remains to be seen. It has been far from a normal season for the Gophers, with Kill missing part of their victory over Western Illinois and all of their loss to Michigan two Saturdays ago. They have also been in the midst of a QB shuffle, though acting head coach Tracy Claeys said Tuesday that Mitch Leidner will start against the Wildcats, saying Leidner "deserves the opportunity" after showing some progress against Michigan.
Perhaps Kill's leave of absence will even bring a sense of normalcy to the program in an odd way. Stability is huge, Vereen said, and not knowing the status of your head coach from week to week cannot be easy.
Claeys said he does not anticipate Kill will return for the Northwestern game -- hardly surprising since this is the first game since Kill took his leave of absence.
The only certainty is that the Gophers will have a ton of work to do in order to beat the Wildcats -- or, frankly, any Big Ten team left on their schedule at this point.
We'll have a video from Gophers access posted shortly. For now, your thoughts on the Gophers in the comments, please.
The Hunt Down
Name: Thomas Tapeh
Claim to Fame, Minnesota: the native of Liberia moved to Minnesota as a child and played football for St. Paul Johnson, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings. Per Wikipedia, he’s the only person to ever score a touchdown in the Metrodome as a high schooler, a college athlete and a professional. Current Star Tribune digital sports editor Michael RandBall profiled him waaaaaaaay back in 1999 for the Strib if you’d like to know more. And yes, he was a part of the 2003 Minnesota-Michigan game (12 carries, 31 yards and a touchdown) that haunts anyone who witnessed it.
Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: the running back spent the balance of his NFL career as a fullback for the Philadelphia Eagles before finishing it with the Purple.
Where He Is Now: the head coach of your Woodrow Wilson Tigers in Camden, N.J.
Is He on Twitter: maybe?
Has He Ever Been in a Twitter Feud with Patrick Reusse: no.
Glorious Randomness: you all know that St. Paul Johnson gave us legendary SCSU head hockey coach Herb Brooks, comedian/celebrity diver Louie Anderson and Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, but Woodrow Wilson High School gave us a Heisman Trophy winner (Mike Rozier) and a notorious spree killer (Howard Unruh).