Talk about news — some positive and some negative — the Vikings made more of it than any other year in the history of the franchise, led by the Adrian Peterson situation.
The Peterson story — missing all but one game of the season following the charges in Texas that he injured his son with a switch — is certainly one that will not be forgotten, but in the 2012 NFL MVP’s absence there were a lot of positive developments for the Vikings under first-year coach Mike Zimmer and his staff.
For a long time, I thought that Peterson would be back with the Vikings in 2015. I still think there’s a better than 50 percent chance that he will play in a Vikings uniform again. But to be sure, that could depend if Zygi Wilf and his family are willing to pay the running back the $13 million he is under contract for this year.
Peterson might decide to be satisfied with a renegotiated contract, but if he’s not then the Vikings could end up trading him or releasing him if they can’t find any takers for the soon-to-be 30-year-old.
Rest assured, even though as a part of his league suspension, Peterson can’t make a move until April 15, you have to believe that behind the scenes his agent is checking with general managers of other NFL clubs seeing what they might be willing to pay him.
More than just Peterson
As for the other news, you have Zimmer taking over for the fired Leslie Frazier; former punter Chris Kluwe’s online article going after special teams coach Mike Priefer, followed by a lawsuit settled out of court and a three-game suspension for him for a homophobic remark; the destruction of the Metrodome and the Vikings getting acclimated to the Gophers’ TCF Bank Stadium.
Regarding the new Vikings stadium that will be ready next year, the building was awarded the 2018 Super Bowl, the second Super Bowl for the Twin Cities, as well as the 2019 Final Four. There are plans to get an MLS team playing at the stadium, too. But then there’s also the complaints of animal lovers that the new stadium’s glass windows will result in the deaths of many birds.
And from a playing standpoint, even though the team went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Vikings were happy with the development of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, one of many young players who have played well in recent years, making it possible for General Manager Rick Spielman to allow some veterans to leave and make it a younger team.
The Gophers football team will find out in a hurry next season how good it is, with perhaps the toughest opening two games of any major conference team in the nation.
They open the 2015 campaign Sept. 3 by playing host to Texas Christian, a team that looks like it should have been given a chance to be selected for college football’s first four-team playoff.
The Gophers’ third game of the 2014 season was a 30-7 loss at TCU, although the visitors competed much better in the second half and were killed by turnovers much like they were in the Citrus Bowl loss to Missouri on Thursday.
That was also a game in which the Gophers were held in check on the ground, rushing for 99 yards. They gained only 106 against the Tigers in Orlando.
The 2015 Horned Frogs figure to be just as strong as they were as Big 12 co-champions in 2014.
The Gophers’ second game this year is at Colorado State on Sept. 12, their only nonconference road game. Colorado State finished 10-3 this season, a season so good it got coach Jim McElwain hired by Florida after the regular season.
Colorado State then lost 45-10 to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Gophers’ final two nonconference games are at home against Mid-American Conference opponents Kent State and Ohio.
The Big Ten schedule has the same teams as this year, but reversing the location, with home games against Nebraska and Wisconsin — both of which should draw numerous fans from the opposing schools — as well as Jim Harbaugh-coached Michigan and Illinois.
The road schedule has games at Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State and Iowa. The Gophers’ first two conference games are on the road against the Wildcats and Boilermakers; if they can somehow get through that 2-0, it means they close out with four of their final six games in the comfort of their own stadium, albeit against some formidable opponents.
• The word from some who are good at estimating crowds is that they believe up to 20,000 of the announced 48,624 fans at the Citrus Bowl were Gophers fans. And the reports are that good progress was made on fundraising there for the Gophers’ proposed football facility.
• Former Gophers football assistant David Gibbs coached the University of Houston to a 35-34 comeback over Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. Gibbs, who was on Glen Mason’s staff from 1997 to 2000, was named interim coach after Tony Levine — who lettered for the Gophers from 1993 to ’95 — was fired.
• Former Gophers basketball player Josh Martin will transfer to Cal Poly, according to the San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Tribune. The 6-8 forward left the Gophers program in early December after averaging 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in seven games. Martin, from Bothell, Wash., is expected to begin classes at Cal Poly on Monday. If he does, he would be eligible to play as a sophomore next December and would have 3½ years of eligibility remaining.
• Former Gopher Austin Hollins is playing for AS Denain-Voltaire in France’s LNB Pro B league. Hollins is averaging 8.3 points per game.
• The San Jose Mercury News reported former DeLaSalle standout Reid Travis is expected to miss a month because of a stress fracture to his upper left thigh. Travis had started Stanford’s first 11 games and was leading the team with 6.9 rebounds per game. “It’s definitely a big blow,” Stanford senior Anthony Brown told the Mercury News. “Reid is a big body. He brought a level of physicality.” … Former Cooper standout Rashad Vaughn is leading UNLV in scoring (17.9 points per game). Vaughn was named the Mountain West Preseason freshman of the year.