Hole Poll: What grade would you give the Gophers 2021 football season?

Hole Poll: What grade would you give the Gophers 2021 football season?

  • A

    Votes: 8 4.4%
  • B

    Votes: 129 70.5%
  • C

    Votes: 45 24.6%
  • D

    Votes: 1 0.5%
  • F

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    183

MNVCGUY

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I went with a B. Was wavering between B and C. This Wisconsin game was obviously huge. A 7-5 season with no trophies is a very unimpressive season (especially if you don't win any trophies). 7-5 was matched or exceeded by Mason in 3 of his last 5 years before being fired, matched by Brewster in a 3.5 year tenure that was thought to be one of the worst in recent memory, and exceeded in 3 of the 4 years before Fleck took over. Being 8-4 and having one of those wins be Wisconsin makes it feel a lot better, but the fact that we were two awful performances at home against bad teams away from being 10-2, it's definitely closer to a C than an A.

You can say that this was better than a lot of recent seasons, but I'll note that 8 wins or better has been our regular season record in 5 of our last 9 seasons (5 of our last 8 if you exclude the COVID year where we didn't even play 8 games). For me to give an A, we would have needed to be packing for a trip to Indy, hold both Floyd and the Axe, or have a 10 wins season where we get edged for Indy (like 2019). Going back to 2006 when I started college, this team has seen a lot of Cs, Ds, and Fs, and the only A in that stretch was 2019.
I totally agree with the B grade.

But a few distinction that should be made about the 8 wins in 2021 vs. some of the other recent 8 win seasons are:

1. Season isn't over so 9 wins is still very much on the table
2. 6 of the 8 Wins were Big Ten games.

It is great to see though that winning at least 8 games is becoming a baseline for the program. Prior to 2012, 8 win seasons were not very common (Mason had a couple and that was about it during the modern era of 11 or 12 game seasons). So for the team to win at least 8 games in 5 of the last 8 full seasons shows that the team is on a solid footing and now just needs to take that next step up to true contender status.

13-5 in the last two full Big ten seasons is still the thing that stands out the most to me. You have to go back a long way to find a 2 season Big Ten Winning percentage like that (1967-68), heck even if you expand it to 2 of 3 seasons you can't find a comparable winning percentage without going back to the 60s.
 

FormerFatOL

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I went with a B. Was wavering between B and C. This Wisconsin game was obviously huge. A 7-5 season with no trophies is a very unimpressive season (especially if you don't win any trophies). 7-5 was matched or exceeded by Mason in 3 of his last 5 years before being fired, matched by Brewster in a 3.5 year tenure that was thought to be one of the worst in recent memory, and exceeded in 3 of the 4 years before Fleck took over. Being 8-4 and having one of those wins be Wisconsin makes it feel a lot better, but the fact that we were two awful performances at home against bad teams away from being 10-2, it's definitely closer to a C than an A.

You can say that this was better than a lot of recent seasons, but I'll note that 8 wins or better has been our regular season record in 5 of our last 9 seasons (5 of our last 8 if you exclude the COVID year where we didn't even play 8 games). For me to give an A, we would have needed to be packing for a trip to Indy, hold both Floyd and the Axe, or have a 10 wins season where we get edged for Indy (like 2019). Going back to 2006 when I started college, this team has seen a lot of Cs, Ds, and Fs, and the only A in that stretch was 2019.

I'll sound like Wren a little and quibble with prior year comparisons. A 6-3 Big Ten record is the best in-conference record since 2019 and then 1973.

It doesn't change the "what could have been" with an Iowa win this year. That said, there have been a handful of seasons since Mason where a key win could have put them in the championship game or resulted in a tie for the BG10 title. 2021, 2019 (even though tied 1st for the BG10W), 2014, 2003 and 1999. Close but no cigar (yet).
 
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Otis

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Judging from what i expected preseason i gave it a C.
Of course we lost Mo then Potts, then Williams so NICE RECOVERY! But let’s look at the schedule:
OSU- loss - expected and considering we lost Mo, 14 Pt’s is ok.
Ohio - unimpressive win. First sign of WTF Offense.
@Colorado - impressive win. First sign of OMG Defense.
Boiling Green - loss. Losing at home to 33 Pt resident of ESPN Bottom Ten is inexcusable and pretty much justifies a C grade all by itself.
@Purdue - win
Nebraska- win
Maryland - win
@Northwestern - win
Illinois- loss. Inexcusable? No. But you have to win the games your supposed to win right? At least this got rid of Sanford.
@iowa - loss. But this could have been a win very easily.
@Indiana - win
Wisconsin - WIN! Definitely worth two wins! Freaking hate the Badgers!

So, 9-4 with the bonus win for the axe. Still a C for having nearly a ton of 5th year offensive linemen and losing to a bottom of the barrel MAC action team and Illinois.
If we had beaten Iowa and lost to say, Maryland instead, I’d give them an A+! But that didn’t happen so there you go.
 

bleedsmaroonandgold

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I totally agree with the B grade.

But a few distinction that should be made about the 8 wins in 2021 vs. some of the other recent 8 win seasons are:

1. Season isn't over so 9 wins is still very much on the table
2. 6 of the 8 Wins were Big Ten games.

It is great to see though that winning at least 8 games is becoming a baseline for the program. Prior to 2012, 8 win seasons were not very common (Mason had a couple and that was about it during the modern era of 11 or 12 game seasons). So for the team to win at least 8 games in 5 of the last 8 full seasons shows that the team is on a solid footing and now just needs to take that next step up to true contender status.

13-5 in the last two full Big ten seasons is still the thing that stands out the most to me. You have to go back a long way to find a 2 season Big Ten Winning percentage like that (1967-68), heck even if you expand it to 2 of 3 seasons you can't find a comparable winning percentage without going back to the 60s.
Don't disagree with any of this. I definitely place a premium on Big Ten games so that is noteworthy. Agree that 9 wins is still on the table. I was using regular win totals from past years as the comparison point, so it was apples to apples, but 8 regular season wins plus a bowl win would certainly be better than the years where we went 8-4 and then lost the bowl game (such as 2013 and 2014). And 9-4 including a bowl win and the Axe would trump 2016 when we won the bowl game to go to 9-4 but were left with an empty trophy case.
 

caliGopher

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5 years in we have the same record as 2016. Against a much weaker conference schedule.

In 2016 we lost to Penn State by 3 in OT, Iowa by 7, Nebraska by 7, and Wisconsin by 14.

those teams finished the regular season ranked 5, 8, 21, and 24 respectively in the AP poll.

the team talent as measures by 24/7 sporys was 12th in the big ten.

in 2021 we lost to Ohio State, Bowling Green, Illinois, and Iowa.

those teams were ranked 7, nr, nr, 15 at the end of the regular season AP poll.

sagarin ratings for all teams had Illinois 71 and Bowling Green 149

the team talent again accordimg to 24/7 Sports has us at 10th in the Big 10

fleck was hired with a lot of hype around recruiting and results.

recruiting is marginally better as compared to the rest of the Big 10.

2019 was an improvement, but the two years since then have been anything but. At best we're getting the same results for significantly greater cost 5 years in.

If we're grading on Gopher history, sure, a C+/B- based on ruining Wisconsin's season.

if we're grading on taking the next step, are you happy with this season?
 


A_Slab_of_Bacon

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I'll give them a B.

Sometimes overcoming adversity is half or even more of the battle.

PJ's teams continue to impress me with their ability to adapt, and recover ... other gopher teams would have melted into a puddle.
 

MaxyJR1

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I don’t have a clue how anyone who’s watched this team for more than 3 years can say this is anything less than a B.

Saturday was the 7th time we’ve won the axe in my lifetime. I’m 31. And we did it while winning 8 games and keeping Wisky out of the B1G championship game.
That alone warrants at least a B, but when you consider we are 2-2 against Wisconsin and should have beaten them last year. Also we have the same overall record as them over the last 4 years.

Considering the way we lost to Illinois and BG, I went C.
 

MaxyJR1

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5 years in we have the same record as 2016. Against a much weaker conference schedule.

In 2016 we lost to Penn State by 3 in OT, Iowa by 7, Nebraska by 7, and Wisconsin by 14.

those teams finished the regular season ranked 5, 8, 21, and 24 respectively in the AP poll.

the team talent as measures by 24/7 sporys was 12th in the big ten.

in 2021 we lost to Ohio State, Bowling Green, Illinois, and Iowa.

those teams were ranked 7, nr, nr, 15 at the end of the regular season AP poll.

sagarin ratings for all teams had Illinois 71 and Bowling Green 149

the team talent again accordimg to 24/7 Sports has us at 10th in the Big 10

fleck was hired with a lot of hype around recruiting and results.

recruiting is marginally better as compared to the rest of the Big 10.

2019 was an improvement, but the two years since then have been anything but. At best we're getting the same results for significantly greater cost 5 years in.

If we're grading on Gopher history, sure, a C+/B- based on ruining Wisconsin's season.

if we're grading on taking the next step, are you happy with this season?
Kill year 5 was 5-7 and got a bowl victory over Central Michigan. Let's see what year 6 looks like for Fleck.
 




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I'm in the distinct minority--I gave them an A because A- wasn't an option. The grade is based on my preseason/early season expectations.

Some background at the time.

Pro Football Focus had Mo on its 1st team preaseason squad, in fact they had him as the #1 player in the B1G overall. CAB was on their 2nd team, as was Blaise. Olson and JMS were 3rd teamers while Tanner and Big Dan were HM. PFF gave us no 1st teamers on defense, Mafe was 2nd team, Durr was on the 3rd team, and Harris was HM.

The B1G media picked the Gophers to finish 4th in the West. SP+ had us 3rd. Several other outlets pegged us as the "darkhorse" in the West, but no one picked us to win it (that I recall).

I predicted the Gophers would finish 9-3, with losses to OSU, wisconsin and iowa. I saw a possibility of 10-2 with a split against our rivals, but also a chance of 8-4 given that Indiana was a preseason top 20 pick and the game was in Bloomington.

Then CAB got hurt and missed significant time, and Mo was lost for the year. As I walked out of the Bank after the OSU game, I no longer believed 9-3 was possible, instead, I thought 8-4 would be the best we could hope for.

And here we are: 8-4.

A tortured path to be sure. In retrospect, Indiana turned out to be a lot worse than everyone expected, while llinois turned out to be a lot better. And yes, the BGSU game was inexplicable, but we have the Ax!
 

cjbfbp

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Kill year 5 was 5-7 and got a bowl victory over Central Michigan. Let's see what year 6 looks like for Fleck.

Yes, but we had a very difficult schedule that year. Final AP rankings in parenthesis: TCU (#7), Ohio State (#4), Michigan (#12), Iowa (#9 and undefeated regular season), Wisconsin (#21), and Northwestern (#23). We had little room for error that season. However, in addition to losing to all of those teams, we did lose to a not-very-good Nebraska team and that prevented us from having a .500 record. Still, I think that team was better than its record.

According to the ranking indexes, we have either the weakest or one of the weakest schedules in the conference this season.
 

FredCoxRocks

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5 years in we have the same record as 2016. Against a much weaker conference schedule.

In 2016 we lost to Penn State by 3 in OT, Iowa by 7, Nebraska by 7, and Wisconsin by 14.

those teams finished the regular season ranked 5, 8, 21, and 24 respectively in the AP poll.

the team talent as measures by 24/7 sporys was 12th in the big ten.

in 2021 we lost to Ohio State, Bowling Green, Illinois, and Iowa.

those teams were ranked 7, nr, nr, 15 at the end of the regular season AP poll.

sagarin ratings for all teams had Illinois 71 and Bowling Green 149

the team talent again accordimg to 24/7 Sports has us at 10th in the Big 10

fleck was hired with a lot of hype around recruiting and results.

recruiting is marginally better as compared to the rest of the Big 10.

2019 was an improvement, but the two years since then have been anything but. At best we're getting the same results for significantly greater cost 5 years in.

If we're grading on Gopher history, sure, a C+/B- based on ruining Wisconsin's season.

if we're grading on taking the next step, are you happy with this season?
This is a weird take and one I always hear from the Kill/Claeys loyalists.

Anyway...I'm not unhappy.
 

short ornery norwegian

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If the poll allowed for +/- grades, I would have gone with B-. Given the importance I place on trophy games, the win over Wisconsin saved it from a "C" grade, but sorry, I still can't forget the putrid loss to Bowling Green and a bad offensive showing vs Illinois.

so, B- for me - while acknowledging that it could have been an "A-" season with a win over Iowa.

The bowl game hasn't happened yet, so I can't take that into account.

But, if there is a new poll after the bowl game, that could impact my grade depending on who the Gophers play and how they look. An impressive win over a quality opponent and I would move from a B- to a solid B. An ugly loss to a mediocre opponent and it drops down to a C+.

(FWIW) Iowa is in 13th place in the new CFP ratings - and that was a game the Gophers definitely could have won. I won't say should have won - but certainly could have won. That just points out the odd nature of this season - so good at times and so bad at times.)
 



MNVCGUY

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If the poll allowed for +/- grades, I would have gone with B-. Given the importance I place on trophy games, the win over Wisconsin saved it from a "C" grade, but sorry, I still can't forget the putrid loss to Bowling Green and a bad offensive showing vs Illinois.

so, B- for me - while acknowledging that it could have been an "A-" season with a win over Iowa.

The bowl game hasn't happened yet, so I can't take that into account.

But, if there is a new poll after the bowl game, that could impact my grade depending on who the Gophers play and how they look. An impressive win over a quality opponent and I would move from a B- to a solid B. An ugly loss to a mediocre opponent and it drops down to a C+.

(FWIW) Iowa is in 13th place in the new CFP ratings - and that was a game the Gophers definitely could have won. I won't say should have won - but certainly could have won. That just points out the odd nature of this season - so good at times and so bad at times.)
Fleck mentioned after a few weeks that this was one of the most inconsistent teams he had coached. I remember thinking after game 4 we really had no clue what this team really was.

Ohio State - Gave them all they could handle
Miami Ohio - Won but not in dominant fashion
Colorado - kicked the crap out of power 5 team on the road
Bowling Green - WTF

So after those 4 games the team goes on the road to Purdue, wins and then strings together 3 more conference wins. Nothing from those first 4 would have led anyone to believe a 4 game winning streak was coming. Just such an odd year overall, definitely one we will look back at what could have been but at the same time it will be a year that is celebrated for the way the regular season ended with a home victory over the Badgers.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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5 years in we have the same record as 2016. Against a much weaker conference schedule.

In 2016 we lost to Penn State by 3 in OT, Iowa by 7, Nebraska by 7, and Wisconsin by 14.

those teams finished the regular season ranked 5, 8, 21, and 24 respectively in the AP poll.

the team talent as measures by 24/7 sporys was 12th in the big ten.

in 2021 we lost to Ohio State, Bowling Green, Illinois, and Iowa.

those teams were ranked 7, nr, nr, 15 at the end of the regular season AP poll.

sagarin ratings for all teams had Illinois 71 and Bowling Green 149

the team talent again accordimg to 24/7 Sports has us at 10th in the Big 10

fleck was hired with a lot of hype around recruiting and results.

recruiting is marginally better as compared to the rest of the Big 10.

2019 was an improvement, but the two years since then have been anything but. At best we're getting the same results for significantly greater cost 5 years in.

If we're grading on Gopher history, sure, a C+/B- based on ruining Wisconsin's season.

if we're grading on taking the next step, are you happy with this season?

How good would have the 2016 team been if Rodney Smith only played 3 quarters and Carlton Djam was the starting RB for half the season?
 

MplsGopher

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B+ , but wasn't an option.

With 4 losses and the 2 unfortunate ones ... couldn't go A.


But definitely satisfied with the season, and hoping for a bowl win despite some of the players that won't be participating.
 


SuperMeat

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C.
Two unacceptable losses, very poor QB play given Tanner's experience and the OL was disappointing for how experienced they are. Yes, we beat WI, but we should have also beat Iowa.
 

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C.
Two unacceptable losses, very poor QB play given Tanner's experience and the OL was disappointing for how experienced they are. Yes, we beat WI, but we should have also beat Iowa.
Great first post. Looking forward to more great stuff in the future.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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I can understand a C based on the expectations coming into the season and the frustrating losses. I expected this team to win 10 games and the west.

But those expectations came thinking this would be a mostly healthy roster. What would have been everyone's expectations if they knew we would only have Mo for 3 quarters of the first game, started our 5th/6th string RBs for half of the season, and had every projected starting WR miss multiple games including Autman-Bell?

Knowing that, I think most everyone would have been very happy with 8-4/6-3 and a win over Wisconsin. Solid B.
 

FormerFatOL

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I'm in the distinct minority--I gave them an A because A- wasn't an option. The grade is based on my preseason/early season expectations.

Some background at the time.

Pro Football Focus had Mo on its 1st team preaseason squad, in fact they had him as the #1 player in the B1G overall. CAB was on their 2nd team, as was Blaise. Olson and JMS were 3rd teamers while Tanner and Big Dan were HM. PFF gave us no 1st teamers on defense, Mafe was 2nd team, Durr was on the 3rd team, and Harris was HM.

The B1G media picked the Gophers to finish 4th in the West. SP+ had us 3rd. Several other outlets pegged us as the "darkhorse" in the West, but no one picked us to win it (that I recall).

I predicted the Gophers would finish 9-3, with losses to OSU, wisconsin and iowa. I saw a possibility of 10-2 with a split against our rivals, but also a chance of 8-4 given that Indiana was a preseason top 20 pick and the game was in Bloomington.

Then CAB got hurt and missed significant time, and Mo was lost for the year. As I walked out of the Bank after the OSU game, I no longer believed 9-3 was possible, instead, I thought 8-4 would be the best we could hope for.

And here we are: 8-4.

A tortured path to be sure. In retrospect, Indiana turned out to be a lot worse than everyone expected, while llinois turned out to be a lot better. And yes, the BGSU game was inexplicable, but we have the Ax!

Good post. I walked out of the Miami game thinking this was an 8-4 team at best (I think I posted it somewhere). At that time, I questioned the ability of the defense to hold up against good teams, the inconsistent O-line play despite their experience/talent, whether the backup running backs could be effective, whether the receiver corps would be healthy and/or effective, whether Tanner could get things done, and most of all, whether the offensive play caller would pull his head out of ass. Despite all those questions, it was obvious this team had enough talent to go 8-4 if they pulled it together. The D was better than I anticipated while the passing game was worse than anticipated (or simply not used) until the end. The freshmen RBs were a pleasant surprise. Here we are. 8-4.
 
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corcorangopher

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I’m saving the ‘A’ grade for winning the West.
Gophers did go into the last weekend with a chance to win the West. So if winning West is an A, knocking on the door seems like a ‘B.’ Had a blast at Colorado. Enjoyed beating Frosty and Purdon’t. Did the Jump Around on Wisconsin. I remember at the U having a physics quiz every Friday and then you got to throw out the two low scores from the quarter. Gophers wasted two of their easy quizzes (BG, IL) and then messed up the IA quiz. In physics I couldn’t get to an A tossing out more than two quizzes. I tried. I blame Foul Play. Or Big Ten. Or Stubs.
 

Buck_Buchanan

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I chose A - probably should’ve gone with B (initially wanted to). Thought an exceptional year would be 9-3 and disappointing year 6-6. Gophers won games I didn’t think they’d win and lost games I thought we’d win. I’m confident the national publications will have them pegged for 5th in the West next year because - well, that’s what they do.
 


everybody knows my name

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I expected 8 wins this year; treated that number as a baseline. I think probably most of us did. So we finished 8-4 after losing inexplicably, inexcusably, to an inferior team in Bowling Green. We also lost to Illinois, which finished 5-7 for the season, but I consider that excusable, as we weren't the only team Illinois shocked. They also beat PSU, which has substantially better raw talent than the Gophers.

But give us those two expected wins, and we're 10-2 and probably division champs.

How could I rate that anything better than a C?
 

TNGophfan

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I expected 8 wins this year; treated that number as a baseline. I think probably most of us did. So we finished 8-4 after losing inexplicably, inexcusably, to an inferior team in Bowling Green. We also lost to Illinois, which finished 5-7 for the season, but I consider that excusable, as we weren't the only team Illinois shocked. They also beat PSU, which has substantially better raw talent than the Gophers.

But give us those two expected wins, and we're 10-2 and probably division champs.

How could I rate that anything better than a C?
As I'm sure others will point out ad well, 10-2 in your scenario still leaves us 2nd in West as Iowa would win tie-breaker. Had to beat Iowa or have Nebby beat them.
 


everybody knows my name

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As I'm sure others will point out ad well, 10-2 in your scenario still leaves us 2nd in West as Iowa would win tie-breaker. Had to beat Iowa or have Nebby beat them.
Fair enough, and I even realized my error after I posted, but I was too lazy to fix it.

But 8-4 with losses to BG and IL is a C and no better.
 

caliGopher

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This is a weird take and one I always hear from the Kill/Claeys loyalists.

Anyway...I'm not unhappy.
This isn't an argument for Kill/Claeys. They are the starting point from which we were building from.

in 5 years, we haven't gone very far. This season was maddening. 8-4, beat Wisconsin. Not bad.

significant progress as a program? The results don't say yes.
 

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This isn't an argument for Kill/Claeys. They are the starting point from which we were building from.

in 5 years, we haven't gone very far. This season was maddening. 8-4, beat Wisconsin. Not bad.

significant progress as a program? The results don't say yes.

I think it's fair to say that each one-game improvement in a team's record is more difficult to achieve. By that I mean it's far easier to bump a team's record from 4-8 up to 5-7, than it is to bump a team's record from 8-4 up to 9-3.

The former only requires you to beat some also-ran team, while the latter requires you to most likely beat a very good team--like Iowa on the road. Going from 9-3 to 10-2 is even more difficult.

If it was simply an arithmatic progression, then yeah, maybe Fleck hasn't made significant progress compared to Kill/Claeys. But I don't think it's that simple.
 




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