While I consider graduation rates to be worthwhile and sometimes interesting news, I personally don't care much whether Athlete A graduates from the University of Minnesota. I'm not sure why anyone does.

If my neighbor's kid earned a scholarship to the U and failed out, would I draw any grandiose conclusions? Would I assume that all teenagers from Lakeville are using the University for nefarious purposes, or that the parents were rotten, or that the kid's life was necessarily ruined? No, I'd feel a little sorry for the kid and hope that this brand of failure propelled him/her to something better.

Why would we view failing athletes any differently? They earned a scholarship by displaying talent in a particular field, much like a math or science whiz. They were given an opportunity to go to school for free. They blew it. So be it.

It's their loss, but I'm not sure it should be my concern.

An Informed Reader who is not a Gophers fan emailed me to say that he once asked a Gopher football fan why the fan base ``put up with Glen Mason.''

The fan's answer: ``Because we remember John Gutekunst.''

It is becoming fashionable to doubt LeBron James as a ``winner,'' as his new-look Cavaliers slog through the early season.

I hate this line of thinking. Dan Marino was an all-world quarterback; his inability to win a Super Bowl was not due to his passing skills; it was due to the players assembled around him.

John Elway didn't suddenly become a better quarterback during his last two years in the league; he was allowed to operate a passing system that better featured his talents, and he was given Terrell Davis, good receivers and a killer defense.

James could be slightly better at closing out games, but he is asked to do so much over 48 minutes that it isn't realistic to expect him to always be at his best in the last two. He doesn't have a Pippen. I'm not sure he even has a Paxson.

He put together one of the greatest all-around statistical seasons in basketball history last year, and he won games singlehandedly in the playoffs. He is already one of the greatest basketball players of all time. If he fails to win a title, the fault will be with the Cavs' executives who failed to take advantage of this rare talent.

My Vikings pick this week: Vikings 34, Seahawks 17. If I weren't so modest, I'd point out that I'm 9-0 on Vikings picks this year.

Penalties and turnovers kept the Vikings from scoring 40 last week. They'll play better this week, and the fact that the Seahawks are a better team than the Lions won't make much difference.

Upcoming: I'm writing about the Gophers athletic department for the Friday paper, then heading to Iowa to see Tim Brewster celebrate the greatest victory of his college playing career.

Scratch that.

You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib. Or not.

I would mix in more pop-culture references, but I can't find time to watch TV or movies these days, and I'm sure you don't need any more references to my memories of the early days of Everybody Loves Raymond.


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Big College Football Saturday. Or not.