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Minnesota Football & Nebraska Basketball Have Much in Common

Minnesota Football: Impressions of Jerry Kill - The Daily Gopher

From SB Nation's Minnesota Gophers site - some impressions of Coach Jerry Kill following the Goal Line Club Meet & Greet. 

The Minnesota fans I meet on a regular basis are sure that Nebraska is going to kill Minnesota in football every year from here 'til forever. 

"You'll probably always beat us in basketball" is my usual response. 

"We'll have the same arrangement Nebraska had with Kansas over the years".

I don't want to believe that, of course - I want to believe that Doc Sadler will keep the basketball program improving. Unfortunately, the loss at Texas Tech took some steam out of watching the Huskers play this season, which is sad because there's a long ways to go yet. Perhaps the Huskers can get it back against Texas A&M this coming Saturday, but it's going to be tough. 

Still, one has to believe, right? Right? 

Minnesota's football program is in the same position as Nebraska basketball. Gophers fans badly want a winning team, but it's pretty been damned hard to come by over the past 40 or so years. There are many reasons for this, or, rather many reasons that most would give. 

Most would say it's because they haven't hired the right coaches. They're partially correct. Lou Holtz might have done well had he stuck around longer instead of running off to Notre Dame. His successor, John Gutekunst, failed to capitalize on whatever momentum Holtz had established. Jim Wacker - his offenses were fun to watch, but like most Minnesota teams defense was optional. Glen Mason did well enough, but burned too many bridges and Tim Brewster was nothing more than a total disaster. 

Some might blame facilities and they'd be partially correct. The Gophers spent way too many years playing in the sterile Metrodome, although that's been corrected since the University of Minnesota built their own stadium (and on campus, too!). By the way, I know you clicked on that link above and read about the Gophers' new coach, Jerry Kill and when you did, you had to have seen this in the comment section: 

Hard to imagine it's so outdated so fast, but having just been at Nebraska and seeing their lifting facilities, our football weight room is on par with the facility for their women's sports.    

Others would say Minnesota's flirtation with mediocrity is because the Gophers have to compete with the Minnesota Vikings every week. I'd have to say that here they're getting closer to the real cause. 

Reduce it all down and I'd say that the biggest reason Minnesota can't consistently find success in football is because not enough people care. Gophers fans, the real ones, would skewer me for saying so, but Minnesota is a Vikings state and because of the NFL presence, college football barely exists here. Minnesotans simply do not get excited about football Saturdays - to the point that when you talk about college football around most of them you might as well be speaking a foreign language. 

The result is that Minnesota's best recruits continually leave the state. Lydon Murtha and Nate Swift were two starters that came to Nebraska - Swift finishing as the Huskers All-Time reception leader. In 2009, the top recruit in the nation, Minnesota Player of the Year Seantrel Henderson went off to USC, then switched to Miami, FL after USC's probation issue came about. Other recruits have gone to Notre Dame. Hell, they've even gone to Wisconsin. Can you imagine that - kids from your own state eager to go play for one of your biggest rivals. 

Conventional wisdom states that if you build a good program, fans will come. Easy for the fans to say, they don't have to overcome decades of suck. 

Now - take all of these comments, turn them around and apply them to Husker basketball. It's the same uphill battle that Doc Sadler is fighting. He's trying to build a program around a school that's still never won a NCAA tournament game. Hey, maybe the facilities aren't conducive to having a good basketball program. Or maybe it's the coach. Danny Nee, Barry Collier, now Doc Sadler. Maybe Nebraska should spend a couple million on a big name guy who's sent players to the NBA. 

Or maybe it's similar to Minnesota. Nebraska doesn't have a good basketball program because not enough people care to have one. How many times have you heard a fan say "I'd tried all the wins in basketball (or any other sport) for one more win in football every season"?

You don't think that has an effect on the program?