Bryant McKinnie, who rejoined the Vikings this week after serving a four-game league suspension for his involvement in a brawl outside of a Miami bar, says he is convinced that if he wasn't a football player, the law might have not made a big thing out of it.

"The thing was blown completely out of proportion," said the left tackle said.

But the Miami police had a different story.

McKinnie mentioned a previous incident at a downtown Minneapolis convenience store in 2005 where he was arrested for a disturbance, but the misdemeanor charge was dismissed.

Furthermore, McKinnie said, he had a really good meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and was surprised when he was suspended for four games.

The word is that Vikings did a private investigation of the incident in Miami and from what they learned, and from what they had heard from McKinnie, they didn't expect the suspension to be as severe.

If you had a chance to talk to McKinnie one on one Thursday, you definitely got the impression that he has learned a lesson and that he has to be very careful about his actions in the future. One more similar problem could end his NFL career.

His court case over the February street brawl still is pending in Miami. He is charged with three misdemeanors and aggravated battery, a felony.

McKinnie is one of the most popular players on the team, and he has the support of his teammates.

And while Artis Hicks did a good job at filling in at left tackle during McKinnie's absence, there is no doubt that the Vikings could have eliminated one of their three losses with McKinnie in the lineup.

McKinnie had been enjoying his best training camp, according to the coaches, and he was missed.

And rest assured, the Vikings coaches will do everything they can to get McKinnie in the lineup Monday night in New Orleans. However, after not practicing for four weeks, McKinnie might not be ready to play.

Indiana tough on U

The Gophers have a 5-4 record against Indiana since 1997, even though Hoosiers have been one of the Big Ten's consistently worst football teams.

Their meeting in the 2000 season was typical of how tough Indiana has been for the Gophers t obeat. The week before the game at Bloomington, the 6-2 Gophers had upset Ohio State 29-17 at Columbus, and this newspaper had Roses imprinted on the cover of the front page and everybody was talking Rose Bowl.

But facing an Indiana team that had lost 58-0 to Michigan the week before, the Gophers were upset 51-43 by the Hoosiers, a team that finished last in the conference with a 2-6 record. The Gophers went on to lose two of their last three regular-season games.

So even though Indiana is 2-2 with victories over Western Kentucky (31-13) and Murray State (45-3), the Gophers, who are 7-point favorites, are no cinch to beat the visitors at the Metrodome on Saturday.

Jottings

If you are a Twins fan and are concerned about the lack of a roof on the new ballpark and the questionable weather in April, it might be noted that the 2009 schedule has the Twins playing 17 of their first 25 games at home. And the interleague foes at home next year are Pittsburgh, Houston and Milwaukee. But on the positive side, this will mean fewer early season home games and better interleague foes in 2010, when the Twins open their new stadium.

At one time, former Vikings coaches Dennis Green, Mike Tice, Scott Linehan and Brian Billick were head coaches in the NFL. All have beenfired. Tice is the only one employed by an NFL team now, as an assistant with Jacksonville.

When asked about he feels about the Gophers men's basketball team, coach Tubby Smith said: "Well it's early ... I like the young players we recruited, and I'm excited about our returning players, especially [guard] Lawerence Westbrook. He had hand surgery, and I know he's excited to be able to use that right thumb. I can't believe the way he was able to function last year with one hand."

Gophers backup quarterback Mike Maciejowski, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, has not seen much action in his college career, but coach Tim Brewster made sure that Maciejowski got a chance to get on the field before many of his friends in the Ohio State game. Maciejowski got the opportunity to pass for a two-point conversion after the Gophers scored their last touchdown. "Mike is a very well-liked guy and is well-respected by his teammates," Brewster said. "He sacrifices individual goals for the good of the team. I thought it was very appropriate to get him in the game in his own backyard."

Frank White, who is very involved in different ways to keep young boys out of trouble by participating in athletics, received a Spirit of Peace Award from Partners for Violence Prevention in St. Paul on Thursday. His grandson Royce White, the Hopkins basketball player who has committed to Minnesota, introduced him. ... Former Gophers kicker Rhys Lloyd is the reason the Panthers lead the NFL in kickoffs going into the end zone at 47.4 percent, more than double the league average of 18.7 percent. Nate Swift, the former Hutchinson football player, is the leading receiver for Nebraska with 15 catches for 259 yards in four games.

With Marty Morgan leaving the Gophers wrestling staff to train Brock Lesnar, Joe Russell, Brandon Eggum and Luke Becker will share Morgan's top assistant coaching position under head coach J Robinson. Helping out will be Cole Konrad, Jared Lawrence, Manny Rivera and Mack Reiter, all former Gophers wrestlers.

Former Gophers receiver Ron Johnson, who played with Orlando in the Arena Football League, a team that went to the finals before losing to Philadelphia, will play for the AFL's Kansas City Brigade next year, where former Gopher Rickey Foggie is the offensive coordinator.

Former Gophers basketball player Spencer Tollackson had six points and one rebound in 18 minutes in his first game for his team in the German Bundesliga. ... Former Gophers Rick Rickert and Dusty Rychart are playing in the Australia's National Basketball League basketball league with ex-Mounds View and Duke player Nick Horvath, who in three games for the South Dragons is leading the NBL in rebounds with 23 and is seventh in total points with 40. Rychart is playing with the Wollongong Hawks, and is averaging 16 points per game with seven rebounds. Rickert, with the New Zealand Breakers, had 13 points in his first game.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com