The end of 2012 is quickly approaching; as such, we have compiled a list of the top 12 Minnesota sports stories -- positive or negative -- from the year. We'll be counting them down every weekday from now until Jan. 1, when the top story will run. Here is No. 9:
The newsy year that was for Gophers football: Strictly speaking in terms of on-field matters, the Gophers football program should be quite pleased with how 2012 is playing out. They made undeniable progress on defense, which keyed a season that saw them double their victory total from three to six in the span of a year. And while only two of those six victories came in Big Ten play, it was enough to get them into a bowl game for the first time since 2009 -- bringing extra practices and exposure among other benefits. The team is rightfully optimistic about the future.
Off the field, however, it was a year of tragedy and drama. The death of linebacker Gary Tinsley in April shook the team; while it became a rallying point for the season, it was still a story filled with much sadness. Coach Jerry Kill continued to battle seizures, missing the second half of the regular-season finale against Michigan State as a result.
Far less serious but still headline-making were two other episodes: News that the athletic department spent $800,000 to get out of two future games against North Carolina did not sit well with the fan base, while A.J. Barker's abrupt departure from the team -- and scathing 4,000-word explanation -- provided another unwelcome distraction.
Perhaps the best news for the Gophers is that they get to end the year with that bowl game -- Dec. 28 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Texas Tech -- instead of with the lingering off-field news.
|Washington||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Houston||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|NY Jets||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|Arizona||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/15/13 7:30 PM|
|Baltimore||12/16/13 7:40 PM|
|New York||6:30 PM|
|LA Lakers||7:00 PM|
|New Jersey||6:00 PM|
|SE Louisiana||7:00 PM|
|Missouri State||7:00 PM|
|Ark-Little Rock||7:00 PM|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||7:00 PM|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|Alcorn State||5:00 PM|
|Ohio Valley||6:05 PM|
|Grand Canyon||7:00 PM|
|San Diego||9:00 PM|
|Long Beach St|