Pawielski has surgery on broken leg, should return by spring practice

Aaron Blake

Minnesota football safety John Pawielski had surgery for a broken fibula Tuesday but should be back in time for spring practice, Gophers coach Glen Mason said.

The junior was injured during the second quarter of Saturday’s 29-27 loss to Iowa at the Metrodome. He became the fourth of four Minnesota (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) starting defensive backs to miss time this season.

“I hate to see him get injured, with him being a starter,” Mason said. “If there was bad place to have an injury, it was there. We’ve had to juggle guys back and forth.”

Starting cornerback Trumaine Banks and starting safety Justin Fraley both missed the Illinois and Indiana games Oct. 23 and 30, respectively, and starting cornerback Ukee Dozier missed some of the game Saturday.

The Gophers’ bye week on the final Saturday of the Big Ten season gives them the unique opportunity to have an extra week off before preparing for a bowl game – assuming they are invited to one.

Mason said that the team isn’t practicing this week because it would be “counter-productive.” But he said he would be excited to get back on the field in preparation for a bowl game.

“Bowl practice gives you those extra practices,” he said. “When you’re successful, you get that extra advantage.”

Non-Big Ten bowls call

Mason said Tuesday that the Gophers have been getting calls from non-Big Ten bowls that might have openings if the conferences they are tied to don’t have enough bowl-eligible teams and the Big Ten qualifies more than its seven tie-ins.

The Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, The Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif., and the Las Vegas Bowl have surfaced as possibilities.

“Nationally, I think there’s going to be more slots open than eligible teams,” Mason said. “We just need to sit back and wait and see how our Big Ten teams play.”

Michigan-Ohio State big

Despite a subpar season and recent allegations of impropriety within his football program, Buckeyes (6-4, 3-4) coach Jim Tressel said his team is just excited to play Michigan in the 101st matchup between the two teams Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

“It’s an exciting time on our campus and on Michigan’s campus,” Tressel said. “People choose to go to Ohio State and Michigan, I think, in part to be a part of this game, this spectacle with all eyes in the football world on you.

“I would have to say that it’s a real plus that that’s what’s going on at this moment.”

Plenty is on the line for the Wolverines (9-1, 7-0), who would win an outright Big Ten title with a victory.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said he is happy corporate sponsorship won’t overshadow the significance of the game.

An agreement had been reached in late October in which the schools would get more than a combined $1 million for the naming rights to the game. It would have been called the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic.

But just days later, the agreement was dropped.

“I was very happy that (the sponsor) ended up not being a part of this game,” Carr said. “One of the issues that we’re constantly faced with in intercollegiate athletics is the influence of the corporations and the money, and all of the things that are attached to those issues.

“I just think that, in my own judgment, the pressure that is being placed on particularly the young people who play the game of college football is (too high).”