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How about them Buckeyes!

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ARLINGTON, TX — Hear Ye Hear Ye: College football has crowned its first-ever National Playoff Football Champion. In August of 2014, no fewer than 300 Division One Schools with football programs set out in pursuit of a national title. The Ohio State Buckeyes, seeded fourth in the four-team playoff, upset number-one Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day while the high-flying Oregon Ducks dominated defending champion and previously unbeaten Florida State in the Rose Bowl 59-20. Ohio State, a six-point underdog, dominated the Ducks Monday Night 42-20 to capture the biggest prize in college football, the National College Football Championship. Not everyone was happy when Ohio State leaped over previously higher rated Texas Christian University and Baylor listed at numbers three and four respectively in the next-to-last college playoff poll. Continue Reading →

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Gopher softball heads for the top

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players. This week: Gopher softball players Tyler Walker and Madie Eckstrom

 

Juniors Tyler Walker and Madie Eckstrom are two members of a combined two-year recruiting class that helped Minnesota string together three consecutive 30-plus softball win seasons. Before last weekend’s league tournament play, Walker told the MSR that despite losing two of three to the conference regular season co-champs Wolverines in a series at Ann Arbor, “We can play with the top teams. We are one of the top

teams.”

The U of M went unbeaten and won the Big Ten softball tournament in Evanston, Ill. last weekend. Continue Reading →

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March Madness begins

 

 

Let’s be perfectly clear from the start — this and all subsequent columns are March Madness cliché-free. We won’t be talking about dancing or getting tickets punched here. The Gophers women basketball team plays Thursday in the 2014 Big Ten women’s tournament in Indianapolis — they face 11th-seeded Wisconsin at approximately 8 pm local time. Minnesota (19-11, 8-8 Big Ten) as the sixth seed goes into Indy on a modest two-game winning streak, but more importantly, especially for further post-season considerations, the Gophers have won seven of their last 11 contests. Although the team finished with a positive conference record for the first time since 2009, from now on U of M’s “second season” record must stay above .500. Continue Reading →

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Roosevelt prep star makes a hometown appearance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The first time we spoke with Suriya McGuire was during her senior year at Roosevelt High School after she signed her letter of intent to attend the University of Miami to play basketball. At the time she was rated as a top-10 guard in the nation by two prep scouting reports. Earlier this month, when the 5’-11” McGuire, now a junior starting guard for the Hurricanes, played Minnesota in the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge, she had 11 points, nine rebounds, a season-high five assists and two steals in a seven-point loss to the Gophers. She’s third on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg). The MSR talked with her afterwards. Continue Reading →

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Spotlight on the Gophers 100

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. Beginning this week and throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players. This week: Freshmen soccer players Simone Kolander and Rashida Beal

Soccer is an always-in-motion game, demanding tip-top conditioning from its players.  But it is also a low-scoring game. It wasn’t a “Rainy Night in Georgia” but rather a cold, rainy Friday night in October at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, the home of the Gophers’ women soccer team, better known as “the Robbie” on Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus. Continue Reading →

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College hoops still stuck on gender equity, racial diversity

But there appears to be agreement on rule changes 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College basketball is now off and running.  Here are a couple of the least-discussed story lines:

 

Gender inequity in sports reigns supreme

ESPN next Monday (November 11) will hold its 24 hours of hoops. Once again the four-letter sports network, using three of its umpteen channels, will show only two women’s basketball games among its 18-game marathon coverage that starts at 6 pm Central next Monday and goes through next Tuesday. And although the two women’s games kick off the coverage, it remains a head scratcher that the self-appointed sports leader can’t or won’t find other female programs to show. After all, if ESPN can dedicate three channels to over 24 hours of live hoops, certainly, if they really were committed to women’s sports coverage besides the typical lip service, then what would it hurt to add a fourth channel for it? But when you ask the ESPN brain wizards about this like I did several years ago during a women’s basketball media conference call, they brushed my inquiries off like dandruff on a dark-colored sweater. Continue Reading →

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College football games aren’t cheap, either

Last week we looked at the high cost of attending a Vikings game, but is attending college football games significantly cheaper than pro football games? To quote Les McCann and Eddie Harris — compared to what? Using again Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), the average cost of a Gopher football game for tickets, food, parking and game souvenirs is around $400, nearly $50 cheaper than a Minnesota Vikings game. “I think we’re one of the lowest ticket prices in the Big Ten,” U of M Deputy Athletics Director David Benedict told the MSR last week. “Based on where we are in relation to our conference peers, we are very affordable because we are on the low end of the scale.”

We examined football single-game ticket prices at all 12 conference schools, as well as Maryland and Rutgers, who both are expected to join the Big Ten in 2014. Continue Reading →

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Conference shuffle the big news for U-M men’s hockey

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Big Ten league promises much — will it deliver?  

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

College sports in recent years have seen conferences either expand or implode both in football and basketball. Now it’s trickled down to men’s hockey. In what organizers called “an unprecedented day of college hockey discussions in the Twin Cities,” last week the two newest men’s hockey conferences held their respective media days September 19. “We’re ready to go in a new season and a new conference,” proclaimed U-M Coach Don Lucia in St. Continue Reading →

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U of M green initiative receives national attention

New energy study forces athletic department to think sustainably smart
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

A new report cites University of Minnesota Athletics “as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency.” Collegiate Game Changes: How Campus Sport is Going Green, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Green Sports Alliance and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education points out that over 200 college sports programs, including U-M are prioritizing “green practices” such as holding energy efficiency audits and water conservation upgrades. The NRDC report also used statistics from a University of Arizona survey this year submitted by 148 institutions: 216 collegiate sports departments installed recycling infrastructure in their facilities; 146 have invested in more energy-efficient practices; and 122 uses greener cleaning products. It further stated that the report is “not a comprehensive list of all U.S. collegiate sports sustainability initiatives, nor does it rank sports greening programs.”

Minnesota is one of 10 detailed case studies featured in the report that points out how these sports programs “employing more sustainable techniques to manage their energy, water, waste and purchasing.” The athletics department began providing recycling bins inside on-campus facilities in 1998, and stepped up its sustainability efforts in 2003 as the school began construction of its new football stadium. “We’ve been working hard on all of our sustainability platforms for the last couple of years,” noted Jeff Seifriz, the school’s athletics facilities director last week in a MSR phone interview. As a result, the stadium “has become a catalyst for broader greening efforts across U-M’s athletic facilities” since it opened in 2009, states the NRDC report. Continue Reading →

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