During the third quarter of Minnesota’s 43-24 loss to Iowa on Saturday, Gophers defensive tackle Jerome Davis aggravated a nagging groin injury. As it turned out, the injury was career-ending.
Davis, one of 15 Gophers seniors taking part in his last game, tried to go back into the game, but the pain was too severe. After the game, he and his teammates reflected on their careers at Minnesota. They were uniformly positive on the experience — despite all the aggravations.
“That was real frustrating, not to be able to play in your last game,” Davis said. “When we came off (the field), I just started thinking about all the hard times we’ve been through together — from our first practice when we used to get killed — and how much we’ve matured and grown together. It means a lot to me to play with these guys.
“It’s going to be hard not being able to sit around the locker room and do our little chit-chat and have fun. We’ve become a family. That’s something no one will ever be able to take from us. We could’ve won all our games, but I’d never trade playing with these guys for anything.”
Offensive lineman Gann Brooks, a senior from Alvarado, Texas, echoed Davis’ words.
“It’s hard for me and all the seniors because for most of us it’ll be the last game we ever put on a pair of shoulder pads,” Brooks said. “It’s just rough. You spend so much time with all these guys in the weight room working out, practicing, in the computer room — you spend all your time together. Seventy percent of my life is fixing to come to a screaming halt tomorrow. It’s really sad for the seniors.”
Even the players who will be back next season were a bit shaken after the game.
“I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet,” junior Cory Sauter said. “It’s just weird. The fact that they’re leaving hasn’t really struck me yet. I’ll probably feel it a little more in a couple weeks, but right now it’s like they’re still gonna be there. It’s just hard to explain.
“But we’ve got a good nucleus coming back next year, and we’re excited about what we can do. So there’s no reason to get down now.”
Iowa fans come out
Like every year when Iowa comes to the Metrodome, the Buckeyes bring along their fans. A sea of people wearing black and gold occupied the north and west sides of the stadium Saturday, and helped give Minnesota its largest home attendance of the year: 53,349.
Ken Buell, the Gophers ticket manager, estimated that between 20-25,000 Iowa fans bought tickets for the game. He thought many fans didn’t make the trip, however, because of the winter weather.
Give and take
In Jim Wacker’s final week as Minnesota’s head coach, Wacker said he received several gifts, letters and phone calls from people wishing him well — including a call from Alabama coach Gene Stallings and a card from Nebraska’s Tom Osborne.
But Wacker also did some giving this week. Noah Reedy, a 14-year-old fan from St. Paul with a history of medical problems and learning disabilities, visited Wacker on Friday for the first time since his announced resignation Nov. 12.
Reedy’s father, Hank, said Wacker took off the Gophers sweat shirt he was wearing that day and gave it to Noah as a gift, along with an autographed football.
Head coach search
Associate men’s athletics director Jeff Schemmel said Saturday that the University has either contacted or been contacted by about 50 candidates for its football coaching vacancy. Schemmel said the department will next cut that number to a short list of about two to six people, and hopefully make a hire within three weeks.