Minnesota remains a hockey state

That is, until the football program gives fans something to cheer about.

by Josh Katzenstein

Minnesota: the state of hockey. ItâÄôs the only state to hold the distinction of being synonymous with a sport. California has never been dubbed the state of basketball despite the perpetual dominance of UCLA and the Lakers. The century-long dominance of the Yankees has never helped the state of New York become the state of baseball. There is also no state of football, and the way the Lombardi Trophy and AP crystal ball are passed around the nation, thatâÄôs unlikely to ever happen. Minnesota has not seen the AP National Championship Trophy since 1960 and, based on its two losses in 2009, the Gophers wonâÄôt be seeing it for a long time. Football is the ultimate determiner of collegiate bragging rights. While the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision may be less than the 344 that play for the NCAA basketball title, the number of fans that turn out and the fact that every game has bowl implications makes football dominant among college sports. A universityâÄôs football team is sometimes a factor in drawing recruits for other sports as well. Since it opened, Gophers head basketball coach Tubby Smith has used the recruiting room in TCF Bank Stadium to show Minnesota football to basketball prospects. Yet the new stadium hasnâÄôt helped the football team win any games and hasnâÄôt advanced the GophersâÄô national appeal. The players and coaches have said Minnesota finally has home field advantage again, but the advantage means nothing without results. Thus, here we are. The unranked Gophers are 3-2 on the season and 1-2 at TCF Bank Stadium in its inaugural year. Games against California and rival Wisconsin were both winnable, yet Minnesota came out on the losing end of both contests despite the home field advantage. A $280 million stadium hasnâÄôt changed a thing as many Gophers fans will undoubtedly turn to the menâÄôs hockey or basketball teams if they have any hopes of a âÄúbig-timeâÄù national title coming to Minnesota. With only 58 teams in NCAA Division I hockey , the bragging rights arenâÄôt that of football. However, unless top teams begin to lose games left and right and the Gophers find ways to win out, Minnesota football fans will again be left empty at seasonâÄôs end. The men took the ice Sunday and showed why hockey is king in Minnesota. A 6-1 victory for the Gophers over British Columbia gave thousands of fans at Mariucci Arena the kind of victory they want to see from a home team. The Gophers football team could learn a thing or two from the hockey squad. Year in and year out, the hockey team hopes and expects to make a run at the national championship. When Gophers head football coach Tim Brewster came to Minnesota nearly three years ago, he said the Gophers could compete at a top national level and even reach the Rose Bowl. They havenâÄôt. And as long as the GophersâÄô heartbreaking defeats continue on the football field, Minnesota will continue to be a state of hockey where roses donâÄôt bloom.