Archived Story

Column: A bleak landscape for fall sports in Minnesota

Published 12:00am Thursday, September 27, 2007

By Jon Laging, Talking Sports

Recently I read a book by Cormac McCarthy called &8220;The Road.&8221; It is a highly acclaimed book by a distinguished author, receiving praise from many critics.

It is a story about the apocalypse, the immolation of Earth and a father and his son&8217;s attempt to cope with what remains. All things are gray, the waters, the land and the sky. Even the oceans are gray. The father and son wander the land, not really expecting anything other than grayness. They endure, keeping away from desperate bands of humans, especially hungry ones.

The book is kept bearable by the love between father and son and in the end the father dies. It is set in a land of bleak unending gray. There is no brightness, no sun and no hope. Kind of like our Minnesota sports scene.

Our Minnesota Twins continue to play in the same dreary way they have perfected this past year. The media&8217;s favorite player is manipulating the reporters to get every cent he can from free agency. Torii Hunter, (the face of the Twins), and their best player according to some, will be forced to leave because of lack of money. I have now reached the point of saying: If he wants to leave, let him go. The Twins can&8217;t afford him, not when it means losing the more valuable Justin Morneau and Johan Santana.

More about the Twins and the 2007 campaign in the future. However, I will say that they finished third in the division because they didn&8217;t play well. That sounds simplistic, but I&8217;d like to expand on that theme in one of the forthcoming columns.

Our Minnesota Vikings under second-year coach Brad Childress and new quarterback Kelly Holcomb took on a bad team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and lost to them. Losing to the Chiefs is a long tradition, beginning with the fourth Super Bowl ever played.

The position of quarterback is said to be overrated by quite a few football experts including Denny Green who took an unseasoned quarterback, Duante Culpepper, and had a successful year. He did that, because he had perhaps the finest receiver of this era in Randy Moss. Once Moss left, Culpepper was proven to be a one-dimensional passer.

A team can do well with superb lines and defense and a below average quarterback. Look at the Chicago Bears and Rex Grossman. However, no team ever wins the Super Bowl without a Tom Brady or Brett Favre.

Now the Vikings, while a good defensive team are far from being superb and with a sub-par inexperienced quarterback like Jackson, they cannot win on a consistent basis. You would think that coach Childress, NFL veteran that he is, would understand that. Yet he took the Vikings into the NFL wars with a Lieutenant Junior Grade. I have a suggestion for coach Childress: Leave Kelly Holcomb in charge, a proven NFL quarterback, to become accustomed to his team and let Jackson study the game and learn by example.

A glimmer coming through the gray is the Minnesota Gopher showing against Purdue. They never quit and with a couple of breaks could have made it a very close game. The offense looked potent with two freshmen, quarterback Adam Weber and running back Bennett showing good potential. The defense was not up to Big Ten standards, but what&8217;s new about that? Glen Mason was known for his offensive running game and poor defense. Nothing has changed, and given the Gophers showing to date, Maturi may have done Mason a favor by firing him. However, the Gophers did look like they belonged on the same field as Purdue which was a relief after their first three games. Coach Brewster has a lot of work ahead of him, but improvement is beginning to look possible. Unlike &8220;The Road,&8221; there may be hope.

Jon Laging writes a regional sports column from his home in Preston.