Moe, Dienhart share mixed bowl emotions

by Michael Dougherty

Before the Sun Bowl, the University took some heat when reports came out that it was spending nearly $1 million to bring more than 600 people to the Sun Bowl.
One paper even listed the entire official traveling party. On that list were former men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart and interim men’s athletics director Tom Moe.
The day before the game both men were at one of the umpteen pep rallies held outside the Sun Bowl. The band was blaring out the Rouser every 10 minutes or so. Sandwiched between the band’s outbursts were speeches by dignitaries like coach Glen Mason and University President Mark Yudof.
In the back of the crowd was Dienhart, his arms wrapped around his daughter, absorbing the atmosphere.
What is it like watching this experience from the outside looking in?
“A mixture of emotions,” he responded. “I would like to be with them next year when they go to the Rose Bowl, which I think will happen. I really do. But I won’t be there, so I’m disappointed in that case.”
About 50 feet away was Moe and his family playing a carnival-type game involving a football.
While Dienhart talked about the team with a slight frown — a frown revealing his disappointment at the end of his nine-year stint at Minnesota — Moe was grinning while he discussed the impact the Gophers’ Sun Bowl appearance would have on the team in the future.
Moe said the exposure from the Sun Bowl “can’t even be measured.” He pointed out that the 15 extra days of practice is like an additional spring practice. Moe also took a moment to talk about how the bowl appearance is helping restore the University’s image that was tarnished by the academic-fraud scandal.
“It’s great to get some good news,” Moe said. “Nobody likes what happened, and we’re all embarrassed by it.”
In discussing the state of the men’s athletics department, Moe tipped his hat to Dienhart.
“We’ve got coaches in all the sports who are just outstanding — head coaches, assistants — all of them,” Moe said. “If you take a look at the conference records the last two or three years, Minnesota has been at the top of the Big Ten (in overall-conference winning percentage). You’ve got student athletes who are doing better GPA-wise than at any other time in the last 10 years.
“There are so many good things to look at, and that’s part of my job. I’m going to talk about the good things.”

Michael Dougherty covers football and men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected].