Smile Politely

F this team: Minnesota

Happy Homecoming, Illini fans. Illinois has special uniforms for Saturday’s game and Minnesota is in town. Are either of those things good? Who knows (who cares), but here’s some trash talk fuel for the game.

The University of Minnesota has the sixth-largest student body in the US, yet despite its incredibly large pool of bodies to draw from, Minnesota hasn’t won a national title since 1960 or even a conference title since 1967 in football. That’s commitment to failure. I didn’t look it up, but based on that stunning lack of success, it wouldn’t surprise me if Minnesota offered a degree in mediocrity.

Minneapolis is home to the University of Minnesota and the birthplace of large companies like General Mills and Pillsbury. Minnesotans are overly nice (to a fault, I mean, what are they hiding behind all that niceness?), so they’ll probably cry if they read this, but I’m going to blame General Mills and Pillsbury, and therefore Minnesota, for the obesity epidemic in America. These companies are cranking out sugar-loaded BREAKFAST foods and pricing them so low we can’t resist them. If I were to start my day with a bowl of Lucky Charms and some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with icing (which I would very much like to), I’d be consuming 19 grams of sugar, which works out to 76% of my daily recommended sugar intake (25 g) — and that’s IF I eat the recommended serving. Lord knows I’m going to have a second cinnamon roll and more than 3/4ths of a cup of Lucky Charms and end up 15 pounds overweight by next week.

Thus, we can reasonably assume all University of Minnesota students are fat, but at least they have a nice campus to walk around. The campus is situated in downtown Minneapolis and straddles the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, it has some ugly-ass buildings all over the place, like this penis-adorned building named after the Pillsbury guy and this Frank Gehry jumble of crap. Maybe the university thinks these are great cultural contributions, but you have to consider that Minnesota is directly responsible for Yanni (he was a student there in the ‘70s, when he decided to dedicate his life to music), so their cultural contributions will always be tainted.

Likewise, Minnesota failed when creating a mascot for its athletic teams, basically picking the Yanni of the animal kingdom: the gopher. Gophers are burrowing animals that weigh less than a pound and average 6 to 8 inches in length. They are not fearsome and calling them “golden” does not enhance their stature. Yet the University of Minnesota proudly emblazons its campus and athletic gear with maroon (because that makes sense) and gold gophers. Their decision making is really the only fearsome thing there.

The only really formidable thing about Minnesota athletics is its women’s hockey team. They’ve won five national championships since 2000 and could likely beat up any Big Ten football team. Minnesota also has a fairly distinguished men’s wrestling team and hockey team, but otherwise they’re pretty goddamn mediocre at everything.

Proof of Minnesota’s mediocrity (beyond the previously mentioned failure of the football team) lies in the fact that they hired a famous men’s basketball coach’s son (Rick Pitino’s son Richard) in a vampiric attempt to suck some wins from genealogy and the women’s basketball team hung on to its coach for seven years despite players obviously not wanting to play for her.

But we’re here to talk about football, right? Well, in football, the Gophers went from 1967 to 1999 without winning 8 games in a season. More impressive, they went from 1905 until 2003 without winning 10 games in a season. Since naming Jerry Kill as head coach in 2011, Minnesota has done a little better each year. But the fact that he’s succeeded at Minnesota means Kill is probably not going to be with the Gophers much longer. His track record shows him turning every team he’s been at into a perennial winner and then leaving, including Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and soon Minnesota.

With some high-profile jobs openings coming up, Kill will probably go take another challenge. Why? Because Minnesota is the biggest university that no one cares about. Its been nearly 50 years since the team last won the Big Ten and once Kill leaves it may be another 50 before they contend again. So enjoy him while you can, Gopher fans.

Illinois and Minnesota kick-off Saturday at 11 am. ESPNU has television coverage. I’ll be tweeting about how great the Illini are doing @chris_d_davies if you want to follow along.

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