Dan Patrick had Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on his radio show during Super Bowl weekend, and he asked Cousins if he viewed his first season in Minnesota as a success.
“The short answer is no,” Cousins said. “We didn’t make the playoffs. There were high expectations and we didn’t deliver, and so I’ve been frustrated since the season ended.”
Cousins finished 10th in the league in passing yards (4,298) and quarterback rating (99.7), but he said this offseason has been hard on him.
“I wish the 2019 season started tomorrow,” he told Patrick. “I’m ready to go and make amends for 2018. It’s been frustrating to know I have to sit here for whatever it is, seven or eight months before we get back at it.
“It has been a tough January for me. I haven’t been sleeping well, that kind of a thing, because, yeah, it just left a bad taste in my mouth the way the season finished up.”
Cousins will be the third-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL next season at $29 million, trailing only the Saints’ Drew Brees ($33.5 million) and the Lions’ Matthew Stafford at ($29.5 million).
The Vikings’ big question will be if they can build around Cousins with only $5.7 million in salary cap space and some key free agents — namely, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, linebacker Anthony Barr and running back Latavius Murray — yet unsigned.
Mason on Edelman
Former Gophers football coach Glen Mason recalled that when the team went to play at Kent State in 2006, he was excited because his first job as a head football coach was at Kent State in 1986. He was aware the Golden Flashes had an athletic quarterback by the name of Julian Edelman.
“We totally dominated the game [winning 44-0], as I remember,” Mason said. “We played well defensively and shut them out.”
Mason said the Gophers ran the ball at will against Kent State, with Alex Daniels rushing 24 times for 155 yards and Amir Pinnix 15 times for 114 yards. They outgained Kent State 468-282.
Edelman, who was in his second season at Kent State, completed seven of 13 passes for 150 yards and no touchdowns. He also ran the ball 14 times for 31 yards.
“Edelman was a young kid,” Mason said. “We could tell he was an awfully good athlete. We intercepted him three times. I don’t think he was that prolific of a passer, and that is probably why he ended up playing where he did in pro football.”
Edelman, now a wide receiver, was named Super Bowl MVP on Sunday in the Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams in Atlanta. He caught 10 passes for 141 yards in the game, and now has the second-most postseason receptions in NFL history with 115, trailing only Jerry Rice (151).
The Patriots and coach Bill Belichick were the only team to take a flier on Edelman, selecting him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft at No. 232 overall. He caught 37 passes for 359 yards in his rookie year.
When asked if he thought Edelman could have this kind of pro career, Mason said he does see a pattern of how the Patriots draft athletic players and turn them into possession receivers.
“[Edelman] seems to fit the mold of guys that Bill Belichick of the Patriots seems to be able to pick up, those guys that are awfully good athletes,” Mason said. “He reminds me of Wes Welker and that [Chris] Hogan kid, great possession receivers that are really smart and thrive in an offense and a passing attack that utilizes all of those short possession passes and don’t go deep very much.”
Top value for Gophers
The Wall Street Journal ran a report last month about the value of college football programs, based on a study by Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus associate professor Ryan Brewer that had the Gophers ranked as the 32nd-most-valuable college franchise in the country at $260 million.
The study is based on what college football teams would be worth if they were put on sale to the public, factoring in revenue and expenses, cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections.
But even though the Gophers were ranked 32nd, they were eighth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State (second at $1.5 billion), Michigan (fourth, $893 million), Penn State (13th, $549 million), Wisconsin (14th, $439 million), Nebraska (15th, $508 million), Iowa (18th, $484 million) and Michigan State (20th, $337 million).
There’s no doubt the Big Ten Network plays a big role in having eight conference schools in the top 32.
The Gophers had revenues of $73.6 million, which ranked 13th in the country, and fourth in the Big Ten behind Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Still, Brewer told the Wall Street Journal that the Big Ten does have some big questions marks, including the impact of losing Ohio State’s Urban Meyer as a head coach will have on the conference.
The story noted: “More broadly, Brewer said, the Big Ten faces fundamental questions after missing the [College Football Playoff] yet again this season, highlighted by Ohio State’s exclusion as a one-loss team. While Michigan joins the Buckeyes near the top, ranked No. 4 with a $924.6 million valuation, Brewer noted the conference’s absence from the season’s biggest stage damages the teams’ bottom lines and broader profiles.”
Still, there is no question that when it comes to overall financial health, the Big Ten remains the top conference in college football.
Total revenue steady
Meanwhile, USA Today ran a database of all public colleges’ athletic department revenue and expenses.
In that study, the Gophers ranked 25th in the country in total reported revenue at $116.4 million while having expenses of $114.2 million.
That number also ranked eighth among Big Ten programs behind Ohio State (No. 3, $185.4 million), Michigan (No. 4, $185.2 million), Penn State (No. 14, $144 million), Wisconsin (No. 15, $143.4 million), Iowa (No. 18, $130.7 million), Michigan State (No. 21, $126 million) and Nebraska (No. 23, $120.2 million).
Those numbers were based on 2016-17 athletic department budgets, and it will be interesting to see if the Gophers take a hit in the next report after the university has struggled with lagging attendance for football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey in the past two seasons.