So the Gophers are 6-1 and probably the hottest team in college football that hasn't cracked the Associated Press Top 25.
And Michigan is struggling enough that coach Brady Hoke is seen to be in trouble.
Enter the speculators.
On the Sports Illustrated web site this morning, it was noted that "speculation season" in college football is beginning -- and that it includes the head coaching jobs at Florida and Michigan.
And, about Michigan, writers Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans include this:
"Jerry Kill would be a wonderful fit in Ann Arbor, as all he’s done is win at Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and now Minnesota. Kill’s epilepsy, which caused him to miss a handful of weeks during the 2013 season, could hurt his candidacy. After that, there are not a lot of obvious names. One wildcard scenario is that Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long takes the AD job if it opens and brings Bret Bielema with him. Other AD candidates could include UConn’s Warde Manuel and Boston College’s Brad Bates."
That's four coaching names -- and an athletic director overhaul -- in 80 words. So there's your context.
Not long after that, the Kill situation became a headline on The Daily Gophers blog that began: "Jerry Kill To Michigan Head Coach Possibility Raised..."
If you read the entire piece, you'll see it concludes: "Kill isn't a serious candidate for the Michigan job no matter what the media says in the coming weeks."
It's still enough to fan the flames for people looking to create something without much context (which isn't at all the fault of the blogger in this case). Just get ready to hear more and more of the same, especially if the season continues to go as well as Gophers fans are hoping it will.
Then, of course, if there's men's basketball success, we can hear the same things about Richard Pitino, right?
Well this was ... unexpected.
Former Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith, now at Texas Tech, put on quite the show at the team's kickoff 'Showtime' event.
Dressed as Shaft, Tubby Smith drives a motorcycle on to the court. Crashes it. Then asked if he scratched the court. Awesome.— Blayne Beal (@BlayneBeal) October 18, 2014
There's even video.
No injuries were reported.
It was just four years ago Smith entered the Gophers' kickoff event at Williams Arena on a motorcycle and DIDN'T wind up wiped out on the court.
Yadier Moliva strained an oblique muscle in game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
So look who's starting for St. Louis:
#STLCards at San Francisco (NLCS Game 3): Carpenter 3B Jay CF Holliday LF Adams 1B Peralta SS Pierzynski C Wong 2B Grichuk RF Lackey RHP— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 14, 2014
It's A.J. Pierzynski, whom Twins fans have made sport of booing since he was traded from the Twins to San Francisco many, many (11) years ago.
As rough as Twins crowds have been on Pierzynski, he's even more reviled in San Francisco, where he played for one season and had an assortment of issues fitting in with his teammates. He ended up with the White Sox and played there before stints with Texas and Boston. He joined the Cardinals after the Red Sox released him in July.
Here's how his return to San Francisco is being received on Twitter:
If you’re going to the game today, don’t forget to tell AJ Pierzynski that he’s the worst in the world. Not that you needed the reminder.— Patrick (@patrickjcs) October 14, 2014
Here's to hoping #SFGiants score 10 runs off Lackey and steal 20 bases against Pierzynski.— Eric Nathanson (@2outhits) October 14, 2014
I need to find a way to watch the beginning of the #SFGiants game today just to be able to hear the crowd boo Pierzynski.— Triangle Man (@TriangleManNC) October 14, 2014
the fact that Pierzynski is catching gives me even more reason to root for the giants— Amelia Rosch (@LifesARosch) October 14, 2014
Sorry Cardinals fans, I have a strict no rooting for AJ Pierzynski policy.— Walt Scher (@Ctrl_Walt_Dlt) October 14, 2014
The booing starts at 3 p.m.
Let's get right to the action. Here's how Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla opened his report from the X after the Wild demolished the Colorado Avalanche 5-0 on Thursday night:
"Hockey never forgives or forgets a sin. So sooner or later, the bad blood that began when Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie painfully limped off the ice in April after a cheap shot by Minnesota forward Matt Cooke will come back to bloody a victim wearing a Wild uniform.
" 'One day,' Patrick Roy told me Thursday, 'it might be the opposite. One of our players will hurt one of their guys. And I'm sure everybody is going to be very happy to remind (Minnesota) what happened to Tyson Barrie.' "
And here's how Kiszla concluded his column: "The Avs get another shot at Minnesota on Saturday, during their home opener at the Pepsi Center. Free advice to Cooke: Keep your head on a swivel. The first shot of the game might be a fist directed at a lowdown, dirty Wild man certain to be greeted in Denver by a chorus of boos."
Here's Kiszla's entire ode to hockey justice.
Cooke was suspended for seven games during the playoffs for his knee-job on Kiszla, a penalty that was seen as well-deserved even among Wild fans. And if the same thing happened in reverse, Wild fans would be wondering who would take the shot at getting revenge for the team.
Avalanche fans aren't being shy about making their feelings known about Cooke.
Here's some of it from Thursday night:
I don't normally advocate violence. But Matt Cooke has earned a few punches or an elbow to the face.— Zach Borg (@IceBorg) October 9, 2014
If someone could hit matt Cooke with a car that'd be great— Dr. Phibbs (@phibbles9) October 9, 2014
I wouldn’t mind seeing fists to Matt Cooke’s face as soon as he gets on the ice tonight— Patrick (@manoftomorrow01) October 9, 2014
Can't believe Matt Cooke still has a job with @mnwild— Zach Owens (@zachAttackowens) October 10, 2014
Why is Cookie not getting stitched up yet?— Riley Rauch (@rrauch21) October 10, 2014
Matt Cooke is appearing all over my timeline, and I can only assume he murdered puppies and unicorns.— Ted Glover (@purplebuckeye) October 10, 2014
I really hope Matt Cooke tears both ACLs. Then he gets cut. Then his wife leaves him. Then he gets pancreatic cancer.— Joey (@BlueJayontheRox) October 10, 2014
There were some people who thought that vengeance would come when the Avs entered the third period already trailing by five.
this game being what it is, tonight may not be the worst time for someone to step up and settle Matt Cooke's debt— Anthrax Bones (@AnthraxJones) October 10, 2014
Didn't happen, though, which could make Saturday night in Denver all the more interesting.
h/t @ybba2215, who has quite the collection of Cooke tweets, including some unfit for a "family web site."
Michael Powell of the New York Times came to the Twin Cities recently to write about the Vikings, their New Jersey-based owner Zygi Wilf and the state's role in funding the team's new stadium.
It is not a flattering look.
Among other things, Powell wrote: "The genius of the N.F.L. is that when talk turns to public financing, shame is viewed as a disabling emotion. We obsess on the failings of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the $10 billion nonprofit National Football League. But the men who own the league’s franchises are more intriguing, not to mention more powerful. The league makes relatively few demands of these owners, other than requiring that they are terribly wealthy. And it offers them a prime directive: build ever-grander stadiums and make sure that every stream of revenue — suites, seats, concessions, parking — sluices into your coffers. Do this, and we’ll help you gang tackle cities and states. We’ll even throw in a Super Bowl to boot."
Powell wrote about the state's involvement against the backdrop of the Adrian Peterson situation, the suspension of coach Mike Preifer for homophobic remarks and the Wilf family's real estate partnership in New Jersey, which was the subject of a court ruling (now under appeal) that awarded $84.5 million to the Wilfs' business partners.
He wrote: "The Wilfs’ business ethics were excoriated by a New Jersey judge last year, who found that the family had fleeced its longtime business partners in a real estate deal. 'Evil motive,' 'racketeering' and 'robbed their partners' were six of the not-so-nice words the judge lobbed their way' in the ruling.
His column uses the stadium to make the argument that state and local governments are prey for the NFL's wealthy owners.
He quotes former Gov. Arne Carlson, as big as sports fan as anyone who has held that office, as saying: “They’re running circles around us like we’re rubes. “You have children living outside in parks and tents. We don’t have the money to take care of that problem. But we have hundreds of millions of dollars to pour into Zygi Wilf? It’s an embarrassment, really.”
And former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak explains to Powell why, despite his previous funding to public financing of stadiums and his belief that the economics of public stadium are flawed, he supported the deal, which also had the blessing of Gov. Mark Dayton.
To read Powell's entire column, go here.
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