The Wilf family is making all the right moves in an effort to put a Super Bowl team on the field. The latest move was the Vikings' signing Saturday of star wide receiver Bernard Berrian.
And the day before they signed fullback Thomas Tapeh and safety Madieu Williams.
The only way the Wilfs are going to have a chance to get a new stadium is to get people excited with a great team, one that the fans and even the politicians won't want to lose, and losing the Vikings is a possibility when the lease at the Metrodome runs out following the 2011 season.
A Super Bowl team is what it will take.
The Wilfs have spent a lot of money to sign these players.
For instance, they released troubled safety Dwight Smith, who was going to be paid $2.5 million plus a $500,000 roster bonus this year. In his place they signed Williams, who will earn $5.5 million this year and has a six-year contract calling for $33.5 million -- $12 million guranteed.
Berrian was the Bears' top receiver last season, finishing with 71 receptions for 951 yards and five touchdowns, and he was a player a number of teams were after. He signed a six-year deal worth $42 million with the Vikings -- $16 million guaranteed.
Indications are that the Vikings are not done signing the free agents needed for this team to win the NFL championship and make the trip to Tampa for the 2009 Super Bowl.
They are desperate to sign a pass-rushing defensive lineman, and will get one if there is one out there who fits the bill. Also, if they can find the right backup veteran quarterback, money won't be a factor.
The Vikings were $30 million under the salary cap going into their free-agent shopping spree. And the instruction from the Wilf family was to use all of that money to assure a winning team.
While the Twins, Wild and Timberwolves have not made any moves to sign the superstars their teams need to contend for a championship, the Vikings have gone the other way.
The Twins lost two of their top players this offseason in Johan Santana and Torii Hunter because they didn't want to pay them.
The Wild needed a top center in the worst way to assure a playoff berth. Instead, the team signed one of the worst characters to play the game in Chris Simon.
The Wolves keeping on buying out players such as Theo Ratliff, who could have helped make Al Jefferson a more effective player.
The Vikings not only kept the free agents they deemed important to building a winning team, but they are outbidding other teams for top free agents.
Yes, with the economy the way it is, there is going to be only one way for the Vikings to get help for a new stadium: Put a great team on the field and get fans really excited. Maybe then, you can overcome all of the other concerns about locking down the Vikings here. The Wilfs are definitely going to try do that.
One of the most excited of the announced 13,343 fans who watched the Gophers men's basketball team close out its home schedule by beating Ohio State 71-57 Saturday afternoon was University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks.
Bruininks stuck his neck out by putting his blessings on hiring coach Tubby Smith to an eight-year, $13 million contract. Now, nearing the end of Smith's first season at the helm, Bruininks is convinced the move was the right one.
"The enthusiasm is back," said Bruininks as he celebrated the victory with a number of friends. "Smith is not only a great coach, but he does so many things off the court that are a great plus for the school."
Then Bruininks, standing in front of Williams Arena, pointed to the site where the new Gophers football stadium is going up and sang its praises as well.
From a basketball standpoint, that was an impressive victory over a Ohio State program that has dominated the Gophers in recent years. During the Dan Monson (and Jim Molinari) period, the Gophers were 3-9 against the Buckeyes. Smith is now 1-1, winning a big one in the final home regular-season game of 2007-08.
The 2008 Gophers football schedule is finally set with the team opening against Northern Illinois on Aug. 30 at the Metrodome. The Gophers play at Bowling Green the next week, followed by home games against Montana State and Florida Atlantic. Unfortunately, the Gophers open the Big Ten season playing at Ohio State. ... ESPN.com has selected the Gophers to finish the 2008 football season 11th in the Big Ten, with Iowa 10th.
Devoe Joseph, the outstanding Gophers basketball recruit from Canada, has led his Ajax Pickering team to a 54-2 record, and it is the No. 1-rated team in Ontario.
Dr. Kate Mason, a dentist and the wife of former Gophers football coach Glen Mason, is working with Restart Inc. -- a charity group working with head injury patients. She is supplying dental products to patients as well as planning lectures and instructions on dental care for these patients. She is working with Karen Barber, the mother of former Gophers standouts Marion Barber III and Dominique Barber, to organize performing dental work on these patients.
One of the reasons Gophers men's hockey coach Don Lucia is optimistic that next year's team will have a lot more depth than this year's struggling squad is because a number of future Gophers are doing so well in the U.S. national developmental program and others in the United States Hockey League. Gophers recruit Jordan Schroeder leads the U.S. 18-under team in scoring with 14 goals and 23 assists in 38 games, while defenseman Sam Lofquist has five goals and six assists in 40 games. ... The group of Gophers recruits in the USHL includes Jake Hansen of White Bear Lake, who has 26 goals and 22 assists and is plus-14 for Sioux Falls. The winger is ninth in the junior league in scoring and is tied for second in goals scored. ... For Des Moines, Taylor Matson of Orono leads the Buccaneers in scoring with 10 goals and 19 assists in 46 games and Michael Dorr of Roseville has three goals and 12 assists in 20 games. ... Nico Sacchetti of Virginia, Minn., has had three goals and four assists in his past six games for Omaha, giving him nine goals and 11 assists in 44 games. ... In addition, defenseman Aaron Ness has 26 goals and 41 assists in 28 games for Class 2A state-tournament-bound Roseau.