The Vikings have announced they will play one game in London next year.
But the word around the NFL is that while their new stadium is being built and the team is playing at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings might take a second game out of Minneapolis in 2014 and move it to London as well.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley denied the report that the Vikings have made any commitment for more than one game. However, he gave some credence to the report when he said, "After the first game is played [in London], we will see how it goes and then we'll decide if another game is scheduled."
Bagley recently returned from London, where he and other members of the Vikings administration spent time getting some idea of what to expect when the Vikings play there next year. Bagley claimed the promotion was a big success for the NFL this year when the New England Patriots crushed the St. Louis Rams 45-7, with 84,004 fans attending the game.
In a recent conversation, Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf told me how excited he is to take the Vikings overseas.
"I think it's important, that in terms of our planning our schedule for the new stadium, to be able to have the time to build while we're playing, so it was the proper time to do that," he said. "I think it's great for the business community, the exposure for Minnesota in Europe and London. It exposes Minnesota to Europe and London and shows them that we're here."
The word is that the University of Minnesota and the Vikings have agreed in principal on an agreement for the Vikings to play at TCF Bank Stadium while the new Vikings stadium is being built. The Vikings will pay $250,000 per game for rent and install 2,800 temporary seats at the open end of the stadium.
The university will get the income from concessions that it would get from a Gophers game, but the Vikings will work out an additional profit for them with the concessionaires.
The Vikings will spend $2.5 million to install new turf with heating cables underneath the field, so games can be played in colder weather. The Vikings will also have to winterize the stadium and do whatever is necessary to keep the field usable later in the season, at a time the Gophers never planned to play.
Kill, Beckman familiar
Illinois football coach Tim Beckman and Gophers football coach Jerry Kill know each other as peers and both have followed a strikingly similar path to their current positions as the two get ready to square off on Saturday in Champaign.
Both Beckman and Kill came to their respective Big Ten coaching positions from the Mid-American Conference. Beckman was at Toledo for three years from 2009-2011 before taking over the Illini this season. He had taken over the Toledo program following a dismal 3-9 season and then led it back to relevance and back-to-back bowl games in his second and third seasons -- finishing tied for first in the MAC in 2011 with a 7-1 record and an 8-4 overall mark.
Kill did almost the exact same thing at Northern Illinois, another MAC school, coaching three years and taking a last-place squad to a first-place finish before coming to the Gophers.
The two coaches have faced each other twice, with Beckman winning the first matchup 20-19 in 2009 in his first year at Toledo, and Kill winning the second matchup 65-30 in his final year at Northern Illinois in 2010.
This week Beckman spoke of his great respect for Kill, telling the Daily Illini: "[Kill] is a guy that fights every day of his life. His football program is run just like his life is. You know that what he does is the reason why the success at Minnesota has come this year."
Minnesota-born players recently made a big splash in college basketball news. Trevor Mbawke from St. Paul and the Gophers; Mike Muscala, a Roseville native playing at Bucknell, and Nate Wolters, a St. Cloud native playing at South Dakota State, were all named to the Lute Olson preseason All-America team, composed of 25 of the best players from around the country.
The Wayzata football team and the Gophers suffered a blow when linebacker Chris Wipson, a Gophers commitment, tore his ACL against Champlin Park last week.
Logan Nelson, a Rogers native who was a fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in last summer's draft, is the second-leading scorer for the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League with three goals and 13 assists in 18 games.
Former Gophers center Ralph Sampson III was drafted in the third round by the Reno Bighorns in the NBA's Developmental League draft last weekend. ... Former Gophers guard Al Nolen is playing for Sluneta Usti Nad Labem in the Czech Republic this season and is off to a great start. Through 10 games the point guard is averaging 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals in 29.1 minutes per game. ... Also overseas this season is former Gophers guard Lawrence Westbrook, who is playing with Kazrin/Galil in the Israel National League. Westbrook is averaging 19.3 points and 3.8 assists and is shooting 57.8 percent from the field through four games.
In the most recent InterMat NCAA wrestling rankings, the Gophers were ranked third in the nation behind Penn State and Iowa. Heavyweight Tony Nelson was the lone Gopher ranked No. 1 in his weight class. The Gophers did have six other wrestlers ranked in the top 10 at their respective weights: redshirt sophomore Chris Dardanes, No. 6 at 133; redshirt sophomore Nick Dardanes, No. 7 at 141; redshirt sophomore Dylan Ness, No. 3 at 149; redshirt senior Cody Yohn, No. 10 at 165; sophomore Logan Storley, No. 6 at 174; and redshirt junior Kevin Steinhaus, No. 4 at 184.
Twins prospect Logan Darnell is pitching for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. He started his first game for that squad Wednesday after making seven relief appearances. Darnell pitched four innings with five strikeouts, no walks and one hit. He lowered his ERA to 2.51 in the process.
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