Weber leaves U with no regrets

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2010 - 11:35 PM

Given all that Adam Weber has been through in five years with the Gophers, a lesser person might have packed it in or voiced regrets. But that's not him.

hide

Adam Weber is about to start for the Gophers at quarterback for the final time.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It took five long years, hundreds of practices, thousands of workouts, dozens of interviews and 33 dispiriting losses before Adam Weber finally said something even vaguely negative about the University of Minnesota.

"I hate to say it, but I'm really tired of school," the Gophers quarterback admitted this week. "I'm ready to graduate and be done with college."

He was talking about classwork, not football, since he already possesses a business degree and has been taking grad-level courses this fall. But who could blame the 23-year-old senior if he was anxious to walk away from a football experience that didn't come within a season's worth of Hail Marys from what he hoped and expected?

Yet Weber approaches his 50th start in the Gophers backfield on Saturday, his final game in a remarkable college career, with sanguine emotions, an against-all-odds feeling that it was worth all the effort. Weber long ago came to terms with his team's naggingly persistent failure to live up to its ambitions, and said he can appreciate his career for the adventure, however frustrating, that it was.

The journey was supposed to take him somewhere, in other words, but he's discovered that the quest can be fulfilling by itself.

"I'm proud of many things we've accomplished. I know we're here to win games, and I wish we had done more of that," the senior from Shoreview said. "But we had some great moments, big wins. And there are a lot of great experiences that I'm grateful for because of football. We work with Hope Kids -- I can walk into a room at a children's hospital and make a sick kid smile, just because there's a Golden Gopher in his room. ... How can I say anything bad about [my career], when it allows me to do something that makes you feel so good?"

That's extraordinary maturity, those around the program say, from a player whose confidence and competitiveness make each loss -- and no quarterback in recent memory has suffered more of them -- a surprise and a heartache.

"You're measured by wins and losses, but you're also measured in how you respond to adversity. And nobody ever dreamed there would be this much adversity," athletic director Joel Maturi said. "Adam has been affected by a lot of factors outside his control, and he's never complained. I'm sure inside he's wondering, 'What if?' He's human, how can he not? But he's never said it, not to me or anyone I know of. And that's maturity far beyond his years."

A mixed legacy

Actually, Weber insists he never dwells on the road not taken, never second-guesses his choice of Minnesota, his father's alma mater, over Wisconsin or Iowa. He had to work with four offensive coordinators in his five years, first becoming a spread-offense conductor creating on the run, then morphing into a drop-back pocket passer. He rarely had much depth to work with at receiver -- but helped one notable exception, Eric Decker, develop into an NFL player. He had to face the brunt of fans' frustration over the Gophers' record and their unpopular coach, and the lingering feeling that his smashing freshman year -- "It was amazing how comfortable he appeared at an early age," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz -- was his ceiling.

Instead of all that, he could have gone to Madison and played for a trip to Pasadena that the Gophers dreamed of but never came close to achieving.

Weber's what-ifs, however, involve that unsuccessful two-minute drive against Northwestern, or the lead that slipped away against Kansas in the Insight Bowl two years ago, or failing to score against the Hawkeyes in a winnable game last November. "There are so many games I'll look back on and think: If I do this or something else, we win. And that hurts," he said. "We could have won so many more games here, and I can't separate my responsibility for it. I didn't get it done."

Yes, that's the odd, mixed legacy of Minnesota's most statistically accomplished quarterback in history. He's known for his amazing durability, having played virtually every offensive down of every game in his career -- "I take pride in the fact that I've missed one practice in my five years, the day after my knee surgery," he said -- and for the clockwork amassing of yards and completions. Only two quarterbacks in Big Ten history have thrown for more yards than Weber, only three have completed more passes, and only four can match his 72 touchdowns.

But Adam Weber is at once better and worse than those statistics suggest.

He bounces balls at receivers' feet two or three times a game. He slings the ball into traffic when prudence dictates a Plan B. He can perfectly complement an effective offense but rarely create one by himself.

Yet his teammates insist Weber will be missed far more than outsiders realize.

"He's got great stats, but that's not what makes him great," tailback Duane Bennett said. "If people were around Adam Weber every day the way we are, they would understand that he's an even better person and leader than his numbers. We don't have many wins, but Adam Weber is a winner."

See, that's the hang-up that complicates Weber's place in history. He's having another typically solid season, ranking fourth in the league in passing and fifth in total offense. But the Gophers are 2-9 and have never had a winning conference record, never even won a trophy game, during his tenure. As he says himself, "I've played 50 games -- but how many wins?"

"Winning and losing is bigger than any one player. I can tell you he's been tough to compete against for a long time, and we've got an awful lot of respect for him," said Ferentz, the Iowa coach. "It seems like he's been there for eight years."

Now what?

Sometimes it seems that way to Weber, too. After Saturday's finale -- "It's going to be a very emotional day. It'll be emotional just putting on my shoulder pads, knowing it's the last time as a Gopher," Weber said -- he will move back to Shoreview, decompress for a few weeks at his parents' home, then begin training for a shot at the NFL. He will pursue that ambition for as long as he can, then someday utilize his degree and contacts within the Gophers football community to get a job in business somewhere.

And only then will he contemplate what he has achieved as the face of Minnesota football for almost a quarter of his life.

"When he leaves here, he'll look back and realize he did some really special things. He'll be remembered as a special player, just caught in a tough situation," Gophers interim coach Jeff Horton said. "The truly unique thing about him [is that] he's never once blamed anybody or anything. He's always taken it on himself. And that's just so rare these days."

It even extends to his sense of his place in history. Does he envision his No. 8 retired someday, his career remembered with other Gophers greats, such as Sandy Stephens or Bobby Bell? It's just not in him.

"What made them great was what they were able to do as a team. They won national championships, Big Ten championships," Weber said. "My individual accomplishments fall to the wayside beside our team's lack of success. I don't compare myself to those guys because of what they did that we weren't able to."

  • GOPHERS VS. NO. 24 IOWA

    2:30 p.m. Saturday • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close