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Continued: Sid Hartman: Blame this one on Vikings defense, not Cassel

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 23, 2013 - 6:22 AM

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill and his staff have studied film of Syracuse, their opponent at the Texas Bowl on Friday, and Kill expects a tough game even though the Las Vegas books have the U a four-point favorite.

“They’re a ball team that defensively they’re very aggressive, play a very similar style of defense to what we do and they’ve been very tough against the run and very physical,” said Kill. “Offensively they’re very similar in the fact that they want to run the ball. They have some great skill players who can make plays, and the one thing they really do well is the kicking game.

“They block punts, they block kicks, they run fake field goals, so we’re going to have to be on our toes. A very physical football team, and that’s what you’re going to see out of Coach [Scott] Shafer, that’s been his M.O. since he’s been coaching. So it should be a real, real physical football game.”

A year ago Texas Tech came into the same bowl a two-touchdown favorite over the Gophers and beat Minnesota 34-31.

Kill was asked if Syracuse is as good as Texas Tech was.

“I don’t get much into rankings,’’ Kill said. “If that was the case then we wouldn’t have any success because our recruiting classes aren’t ranked very high. I don’t get into all that. I think every game is different and each bowl game is different, and the bottom line is it’s a one-game shot for both teams and whoever plays the best gets the win. Our focus is we need to be that team that plays the best and gets the win.”

Wolfenson tribute

Had it not been for Marv Wolfenson, who passed away Saturday, I have my doubts the NBA would have returned to Minnesota.

Wolfenson and his partner, Harvey Ratner, lobbied NBA Commissioner David Stern for several years and had to promise to build a $100 million arena before the NBA came back to the Twin Cities.

Then both men came close to bankruptcy because of their involvement in the team.

Ratner used to say that Wolfenson “made him a millionaire,” indicating the two partners were worth many millions before the NBA experience. They later made a poor $15 million investment in Midwest Federal, a local financial institution that folded.

Both Wolfenson and Ratner did a lot of good things, including building a home for some very poor older people.

Wolfenson never forgot his basketball coach, Jake Jacobi at North High School, where he was an outstanding player.

When Jacobi retired and was in financial trouble, Wolfenson made sure Jacobi got a check on a regular basis so he and his wife could live as they did before they ran into financial trouble.

And during their prosperous days when things were going well financially for their real estate company, they were two of the biggest donors to various charities.

I grew up with both Marvin and Harvey. They were very close friends, and class is the word you would use in describing both.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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