Sunday, January 28, 2007

America's Team: Gophers/Cowboys

The Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Dallas Cowboys. Same difference? When Howard Cosell christened the Dallas Cowboys with the "America's Team" label thousands of football fans across the nation cringed. In an era when the Pittsburgh Steelers had dominated championships was it appropriate to adorn the Cowboys that way? They were pretty damn good back then and through the decades have risen and fallen. Fans of other NFL teams didn't like it much but at the time Dallas dominated marketing and TV time. I don't think anyone could make a valid argument that their team was "America's Team" and so that terminology stuck.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are without a doubt the college hockey equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys. Sure there are teams with more NCAA championships. There are more than a handful of teams that have had the same sort of dominating consistent success that the Gophers have shown decade after decade. So yeah ... a case could be made for other teams being "America's Team" but look around any hockey rink and you'll see more sweaters with "M"s than any other university sweater. It's been that way for a long long time. Before UAA was even a college the Gophers were winning national championships in hockey. So I thought today I'd parallel some of the similarities between the two.

There was a time when the Cowboys roster was almost exclusively players that had never played for anyone else. While it's much more common these days for an NFL team to have players from other teams back in "the day" there was nary a Cowboy that had played for another NFL team. The Gophers are and have been made up of almost exclusively Minnesotan's. There have been a few recent exceptions since Don Lucia took the reins from The Woogmeister but not this year. The only non-Minnesotan on the roster is Briggs who is from Colorado Springs.

Texas Stadium's signature feature is it's open roof which it is said was left that way so that God could watch his favorite team. The Mariucci arena is named after the Minnesota God of Hockey, John Mariucci.

Don Lucia = Tom Landry
I think there are many good comparisons between Donnie and Jimmie Johnson (especially the fixation fans have with their hair) but Landry and Lucia resonates more for several reasons. Landry was insular and mostly emotionless. Lucia guards Gopher privacy closely and has only freaked out once in his career that I can remember. They both spend a lot of the time on the bench with their arms crossed. If Donnie would just get a cool hat then he could be a clone. In his early career Tom Landry learned coaching with legend Vince Lombardi for the New York Giants. In his early career Don Lucia learned to coach with American Hockey Coaches Association 2001 "Snooks" Kelley Founders Award winner and legend Brush Christiansen at UAA.

Jeff Frazee = Jackie Smith
Down 21-14 to the Steelers in Super Bowl 13 Roger Staubach threw a perfect pass to a wide open Jackie Smith in the end zone. Smith made one of the greatest non-catches EVER and Jeff Frazee lived up to that this weekend when UND's Robbie Bina made a perfect pass to him and he couldn't catch it either.

Kellen Briggs = Craig Morton
Before Craig Morton became a legend in Denver leading them to the promised land he played for the Cowboys and led them to a Super Bowl. Craig isn't much remembered in Dallas even though Tom Landry thought enough of him to rotate him in the lineup equally with Roger Staubach. Morton threw an ugly interception in the Cowboys first Super Bowl appearance causing them to lose 16-13 to Baltimore. Briggs let in four goals against Holy Cross who knocked the Gophers out of the NCAA's last year. Briggs toils under the shadows of John Blue, Rob Stauber and even Adam Hauser. Plenty of Gopher fans like Briggs but over time Blue and Stauber will be reminisced about while Briggs will remain a forgotten also ran.

Lou Nanne = Jerry Jones
Lou never played for the Gophers. Jerry never played for the Cowboys. Yet both are famous for their interference with on ice/field activities. Obviously nobody "owns" a college hockey team but if there was ever anyone close to doing so it would be Lou Nanne. When Jerry called Parcell's picked up the phone. When Lou calls Lucia has to answer as well. Lou is perhaps most famous for his attempt to get Minnesota born Zach Parise to play for the Gophers instead of North Dakota where he'd already committed without the knowledge of the Gopher program. Jerry Jones interference with his coaching staff is well known.

Doug Woog = Barry Switzer
Neither Doug or Barry could pronounce a players name correctly if their life depended on it. Barry's excuse was he was raised in Arkansas. Though Barry did manage to win a championship he (like Doug) was considered incapable of doing so by the pundits of the day and was sent packing.

Just sayin ...


444 said...


Great job but Lou Nanne did play for the Gophers.

Juniper said...

I'm pleased to see you follow good college hockey (for the most part) but that comparison between Frazee and Jackie Smith is plain, lame.

Frazee is a sophomore BIG 10 goalie who's been playing since he was 5. His championships and honors are far more worthy of writing about. He's feisty and occasionally controversial. He made an error- one that won't soon be forgotten but he's still young--I mean 19 isn't exactly an old dog. I like his style and his unpredictability. He adds dimension to the line-up and I think he has time and means to be known for something more. I don't know if throwing a Super Bowl is a fair comparison. Think about it.

Donald said...

If you can't laugh a bit (not a belly laugh ... a "wee" titter) about a giving up a goal from 175 ft away in a game where 20 kids obviously played like crap then things might be wound a little tightly somewhere.

Donald said...

I was pretty sure he had played for the gophers until told me different.

It says:
Olympic Team

Juniper said...

Now that staement is probably true...Just had to defend the kid and ward off more silly comparisons--"wee-titter",

If you can't laugh a bit (not a belly laugh ... a "wee" titter) about a giving up a goal from 175 ft away in a game where 20 kids obviously played like crap then things might be wound a little tightly somewhere."

Donald said...

I passed on the Okposo/Hollywood Henderson comparison as well as the Hirsch/T.O. comparison so that's something ...

Jimjamesak said...

Oh man I hope Juniper doesn't find out I called Frazze a douchebag for missing that shot. And I'd liken Hirsch more to Ricky Williams than TO.

Donald said...

Um ... Ricky Williams never played for the Cowboys that I recall. Granted I'm not much of an NFL fan.

Jimjamesak said...

Yeah he never did so I suppose that hurts my arguement.

Jeff said...

I was looking at the pairwise ranking on, and realized UAA is tied for 22nd. After sweeping the goph's UND is at #9. Let's say we get 2 points this weekend against the gophers; does that improve our chances in making a big jump in the rankings because we took 5 out of a possible 8 points from the Sioux? If that's how it works, and we can pull some kind of a run, sweeping mankato, and duluth, and splitting with wisconsin, can we possibly sneak in the NCAA tourney?

Donald said...

If UAA sweeps the Gophers they'll move up a couple of spots. But the more the Gophers lose the less important winning against them becomes.

It's still a weekend a time for UAA. It's pointless to look ahead to anything unless and until they take care of business at hand. The business at hand right now is getting as many points as possible against the team they're playing this weekend.

ND's quick climb was also influenced by Bucky splitting with Kato.

Shyiak's goal all season has been to get the team playing their best hockey at the end of the season. If they are playing their best hockey come WCHA playoff time then anything is possible.

Jeff said...

And the return of Kronch should bring a big boost to the team

Juniper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juniper said...

"Jimjamesak said...

Oh man I hope Juniper doesn't find out I called Frazze a douchebag for missing that shot. And I'd liken Hirsch more to Ricky Williams than TO."

Oh- I saw it and thought the concept and the writing was quite clever, none the less, "douchebag" is harsh and I can think of others who are far more qualified...enough said.

Again, "wee-titter".

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