The best of the rest in Gophers sports

Virtually every sport at the University holds some sort of postseason awards function, where honors such as most valuable player, most improved player and blah, blah blah are handed out.
In an attempt to come up with a best of the best year-end column, the Daily compiled a list of all the award winners from all the sports. Unfortunately, we lost it, so we had to make up our own stuff. Enjoy.
Michael Bolton Award: This award recognizes outstanding achievement in unoriginality. This was a close one. A strong contender was the Gophers pep band, for its “Gimme Some Lovin’-a-thon” during the men’s basketball season.
Ultimately, though, the student section at Minnesota-Duluth hockey games deserves the honor for transferring their lack of creativity in one area — the chant — to another uncreative medium — the T-shirt.
Last year, fans in Duluth serenaded Minnesota forward Dave Spehar, who went to Duluth East High School, with the obligatory “Spehar Sucks,” ad nauseam.
Convinced they could take their scintillating wit to a whole new level, the fans first ran a spell-check, then stacked the DECC with T-shirts for the teams’ WCHA playoff series in March. The shirts read — are you sitting down? — “Spehar sucks!”
Today, T-shirts. Tomorrow … sweatshirts?
Reggie White Award: No one affiliated with University athletics said anything that offended as many people as White did with his comments to the Wisconsin Legislature.
In fact, the only person who was offended by any quote was Gophers men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins. He was not amused when voluble forward Miles Tarver said after Minnesota’s sixth straight Big Ten loss in January, “I don’t know who’s sinking faster, us or the Titanic.”
As it turned out, the answer to that question was Tarver’s opportunity to speak to the media. Haskins banned him from press conferences and the like until the Big Ten tournament in March, when Tarver’s loquacity again became part of grateful reporters’ lives.
Defibrilator Award: Yes, we tried to highlight some of the positives of the year. This award recognizes the best heart-stopping moment of the year. We had a tie in this category.
For visibility, it was tough to beat the Gophers men’s basketball team’s victory 73-71 victory over Marquette in the National Invitation Tournament at Williams Arena. Hometown hero Sam Jacobson scored the winning basket with less than 30 seconds left, and Minnesota survived a three-point attempt at the buzzer. The win got the Gophers to New York for the second-fiddle Final Four.
The fans treated the game as if a real Final Four berth were on the line. They were as noisy as many observers could remember, and ran on to the court after the win.
Gophers wrestler Shelton Benjamin also gets a nod for his drama work at the National Duals in Iowa City. Wrestling the last match, he needed to pin his Iowa opponent to give Minnesota the victory. He did just that, the first time the Gophers had ever won at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
David Misfires the Slingshot Award: The Gophers football team claims this one for its near-upset of then-No. 1 Penn State in October. Minnesota led 15-3 at State College, but collapsed late and lost 16-15, thanks to a questionable pass interference call and a Thomas Hamner fumble deep in his own territory.
Journalism Ain’t Easy Award: Sometimes even the most venerable in the business can’t catch a break.
Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman was inducted into the Gophers Sports Hall of Fame this year, but he had a hard time enjoying it. When he was introduced on the field during a half time ceremony at the Minnesota-Purdue football game at the Metrodome, Hartman was unceremoniously booed by a healthy contingent of fans.
When he got back to the press box after the ceremony, another Twin Cities columnist tried to cheer up his downcast colleague.
“They weren’t booing,” the consoling columnist reasoned. “They were chanting, ‘Sid! Sid!'”