I grew up in Wisconsin in the 1970s, so I understand what Minnesota football fans are going through now. And it's no fun.
While I was enjoying a weekend in which the Badgers laid waste to a school from the Dakotas and the Packers handled the hated Bears at Soldier Field, most of the folks around here were suffering through yet another lost weekend. The Gophers had no answer for North Dakota State, a school that sent the Badgers their worst coach ever (Don Morton), while the Vikings once again blew a huge halftime lead and lost to the Lions, a team that hadn't won a game in these parts since 1997.
It's fairly easy to see the problem the Gophers face: they don't have the right kind of kids on campus to do what Jerry Kill and his staff want to do. MarQueis Gray is a talented guy but he's not a natural quarterback, which has made it difficult for the Gophers to be cohesive. Meanwhile, the defense is well short of Big Ten caliber right now. It isn't helping Kill's cause that he's had a series of highly publicized seizures and is now back in the hospital. His record indicates that he can win once he gets the right guys in place, but I suspect that the Kirk Ferentzes and Bret Bielemas of the world might have a few thoughts concerning Kill's health when they speak with potential recruits.
Meanwhile, there's the Purple, which still seems to think it is playing preseason games. It's been astonishing to watch the Vikings cough up big leads in three straight games. While it's not fair to put what's been happening at the feet of Donovan McNabb, it's clear that the Vikings need an upgrade at the position. Back in the 1970s the Packers went with a retread quarterback named John Hadl, who had been a productive quarterback for the Chargers and the Rams. By the time he got to Green Bay, Hadl didn't have much left in the tank and the Packers were pretty easy to beat. McNabb doesn't look like he has much left, either. There's more talent in Minnesota in 2011 than there was in Green Bay in 1975, but the 2011 Vikings have looked as overmatched as the 1975 Packers did, especially when the game is on the line.
Meanwhile, the Packers and Badgers are outstanding football teams. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can, because I know that someday it could go bad again.