The announcement was made Thursday at Virginia High School and repeated during a Virginia vs. Eveleth-Gilbert hockey game at the Eveleth Hippodrome that night:

The new consolidated district for these schools would be named Rock Ridge, with its athletic teams called “Wolverines.”

Dr. Noel Schmidt, the superintendent who pushed for consolidation starting with the 2022-23 school year, proclaimed: “We think this will be a great name and mascot for the community. They’re going to love it.”

We certainly do here in the Twin Cities, Doc.

You don’t have to be of my advanced age to have encountered Mel Brooks’ mind-blowing satire, “Blazing Saddles,” released in February 1974. For anyone in this category, Rock Ridge will never be the Wolverines but rather “a peaceful town where people lived in harmony,” until the “rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs … bushwhackers, hornswogglers … and Methodists!” showed up.

So many racial pejoratives fly around that it’s a movie that couldn’t be made in current times — an era when underlying themes don’t have a chance against face value — but this always has been Brooks’ wicked depiction of racists as fools.

The bottom line was predicted early in Frankie Laine’s opening theme song: Facing immediate skepticism as a black man sent to a Western outpost filled with Johnsons, Sheriff Bart “conquered fear and conquered hate” and departed Rock Ridge a hero.

As a fellow with a beloved McDonough as a mother, my favorite line of insensitivity involves Mayor Olson Johnson (played by the great David Huddlestone) agreeing to team up with blacks and Asians, then adding emphatically: “ … but we don’t want the Irish.’’

I’m sure there is as much appreciation for satire and dark comedy (Dr. Strangelove, 1964, No. 1 all-time) as ever, but America’s population is so great, with many more millions having the potential to take offense, that the new generations of Mel Brookses and Buck Henrys no longer can get away with most anything.

So it goes. I’m just excited Minnesota soon will have the Rock Ridge Wolverines, and we can dream of the day they arrive at the hockey state tournament and announce an entire starting six of Johnsons.


• Timberwolves went into Saturday night making 32.5% of threes, 29th in the NBA. Atlanta was 30th at 32.3%.

• Timberwolves were taking 39.3 threes per game, third most in league. They were missing the second most, producing 26.5 of those coveted long rebounds per game.

• Houston was first in attempts (43.5) and misses (28.4 per game) and tied for fifth in the West.


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