Sid Hartman has been a major voice on the Minnesota sports scene for several decades. He writes a column four days a week, and has a weekly radio program on WCCO830 at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. He also can be heard at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. on weekdays.

How will Nebraska respond to humiliating loss?

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Gophers coaches Updated: November 17, 2014 - 11:42 AM

Analyzing the Minnesota-Nebraska game coming up this Saturday, it’s tough to figure out how the two teams will react to what happened to them in their previous games.

Nebraska suffered one of the worst defeats in their history, 59-24 at Wisconsin on Saturday, something that was not expected.  Earlier this season, Wisconsin was having quarterback problems.  But they have found a quarterback in Joel Stave, although against Nebraska only threw for 46 yards.

Melvin Gordon ran for an NCAA-record 408 yards for the Badgers who, as usual, have a great ground game.

So the question is can Minnesota, which lost a one-touchdown margin game to Ohio State, bounce back against the Cornhuskers?  And can David Cobb duplicate, to a point, the rushing totals of one Melvin Gordon against Wisconsin?

The Gophers have taken some awful beatings at Nebraska. But I think it will be hard for Nebraska to bounce back, and I think the Gophers, who performed so well against Ohio State, will play their best of the season.

Of course, it could be the opposite.  Nebraska could take it out on the Gophers, because it is tough to win at Lincoln.

This was the second time that the Badgers have handed the Cornhuskers a big, lopsided loss in a big game. They beat them 70-31 in the Big Ten title game two years ago.

Things turn bleak for Vikings

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Vikings offense Updated: November 16, 2014 - 6:11 PM

After victories over Tampa Bay and Washington, things looked brighter for the Vikings from all angles, including possibly getting Adrian Peterson back for next week’s Packers game.

But negatives have set in. Teddy Bridgewater, who seemed on the verge of a breakthrough at quarterback, struggled on Sunday at Chicago. And the Vikings blew a 10-0 lead against a team that had given up 50 points in back-to-back games, and scored only 13 points against the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL.

Now the Vikings have to face the hottest team in the league, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers did what no other team could do – ran the Philadelphia Eagles off the field -- on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles, with one of the best defenses in the league, were no match for Aaron Rodgers and his buddies.

And all of a sudden Peterson’s return doesn’t look very good, with Peterson blasting the NFL and claiming that they are not playing fair with him. It’s no sure thing that Monday’s scheduled grievance hearing will come off in Peterson’s favor and without him the Vikings are going to struggle because they don’t have a running game.

Looking back at McHale-Saunders

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Gopher coaches Updated: November 13, 2014 - 5:51 PM

Kevin McHale's Houston Rockets beat Flip Saunders' Timberwolves in Mexico City last night, and the two meeting reminded me of something.

Glen Taylor, owner of the Wolves, once told me the biggest mistake he probably ever made was firing Saunders as coach during the 2004-05 season after Saunders took the team to eight consecutive playoff berths and the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers just nine months earlier.

For some reason, McHale, who was then the Wolves vice president, and Saunders had their great friendship on rocky ground.  Taylor was told by either McHale or the general manager, Jim Stack,that Kevin Garnett said that Saunders had lost control of the team. The Timberwolves had just dropped below .500 and were ninth in the Western Conference.

Garnett, in a later conversation, denied ever telling anybody that. In fact Garnett and Saunders had a great relationship that has continued to this date. For a long time, Saunders and McHale didn’t talk. But after Wednesday’s game, Saunders was off to shake McHale’s hand, indicating they are back on good terms.

What McHale has going for him right now is two of the best players in the NBA in Dwight Howard and James Harden. For the Timberwolves to become a contender they will have to get at least one player of the caliber of Howard or Harden. Right now, those two players make Houston one of the favorites to win the NBA title.

And the Timberwolves, without injured Ricky Rubio, and with No. 1 draft choice Andrew Wiggins still developing, are bound to struggle for a while.

Buckeyes, Gophers don't meet much in football

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Gophers coaches Updated: November 11, 2014 - 5:00 PM

Considering they are in the same conference, Minnesota and Ohio State playing each other in a Big Ten football game is a rarity.

The teams haven’t met since 2010, and have played only 50 times since 1921.

During the years Woody Hayes coached Ohio State (1951-78) and Murray Warmath coached the Gophers (1954-71) they played only five times. They didn’t meet at all until Warmath was in his 11th season (1965).

Because their teams didn’t play much, Hayes and Warmath because friends, and started sharing scouting reports. This was the days before teams exchanged game films, so assistant coaches would scout. On more than one occasion, the scouting reports were different, and I believe a couple of assistant coaches got fired on account of that.

I was standing outside of his Warmath’s office more than once and heard him yell at a scout for not having the same information that Hayes had reported on the telephone.

Vikings want Peterson back quickly

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Vikings off the field Updated: November 10, 2014 - 5:51 PM

I don't think the Vikings are concerned about the reaction of the public or concerned about losing sponsors if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstates Adrian Peterson in the near future.

Peterson is still on the commissioner's exempt list despite clearing up his court case last week.  The Vikings star running back has missed eight games after being charged with injuring his 4-year-old son in October, and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor last week in Texas.

The Vikings are now waiting for the league to act. In a statement today, the team said: In regards to Adrian Peterson's status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines. As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend's game against the Bears.

The NFL Players Association is determined to force the NFL to let Peterson come back immediately, claiming the original agreement was that Peterson could return as soon as his court case was cleared up. They filed an expedited grievance Monday afternoon get the league to hurry on the matter.

Don't be surprised if the league fines Peterson heavily before reinstating him. He was drawing his entire salary while on the exempt list. He is making $11.7 million dollars this season. Peterson will likely have to fork over some money to charity.

It is very clear that Peterson wants to play, and that the Vikings want him back.  Some of his teammates have said he is working out diligently and will be ready to go the moment he is reinstated.

The Vikings (4-5) want Peterson back so he can help them on the football field. But obviously they also want to know how well he can play, since he has three years remaining on his contract after this season. He is unlikely to play out his contract, which runs through 2017, and the Vikings could release him after this season with very little effect on their salary cap. If Peterson comes back and plays like he did two years ago, when he was the NFL's MVP, the team would probably keep him for 2015.

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