Follow Noel on Twitter –> @N0ELTHOMPSON
For the third time in four years, the Minnesota Gophers football spring game will not be open to the public and will be held inside. The game is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. in the Gophers indoor practice facility at the Athletes Village. Along with the game at Huntington Back Stadium, the Gophers were going to have a diaper drive and their annual oar collection. Both of those have been postponed to a later date in training camp. In a statement, head coach P.J. Fleck mentioned ongoing rain, inclement weather, and the scoreboard being under construction as reasons to move the game inside. Fans can watch the game on the Big Ten Network and on the radio.
What is the forecast for the spring game?
As of Thursday, April 20th, the high on Saturday is supposed to be around 40 degrees, with a 21% chance of rain, according to The Weather Channel. It does appear that it will be a little windy, as the forecast says to expect 16mph out of the northwest.
It won’t be the most beautiful spring day if Saturday turns out like what is forecasted to be. But you never truly know what you are going to get this time of year in Minnesota. It could snow inches one day and then turn into 80 degrees the next. Even looking at the weather records for April, the record high is 101 degrees, and the record low is negative 22. Both of those records happened in consecutive years, 1979 and 1980.
Minnesota weather is incredibly consistent at being inconsistent. It’s not a problem that is simply going to go away anytime soon. The question is whether or not the university or the football program will adapt to it. While other programs are making their spring game into a fan festival, Gopher fans haven’t been able to attend three of the last four spring games due to weather and the pandemic. Wisconsin is expecting over 20,000 fans to attend their spring game titled “The Launch” this Saturday. The Badgers will also have discounted concessions along with giveaways for fans. Bucky’s locker room will have a clearance sale on the sidewalk outside the stadium. The high in Madison this Saturday is forecasted to be 44 degrees with a 17% chance of rain and 14 mph winds out of the northwest. Pretty similar conditions to Minneapolis. Sure, you can say the excitement of a new coach at Camp Randall is the reason why so many fans will be attending this weekend, but the reality is that the spring game is an opportunity for fans to get involved and buy into the football program. It’s also a great opportunity for the program to build its fan base, as the spring game and its festivities are fun and cheap.
Programs across the nation are investing more in their spring games. It’s become an event that accomplishes a lot for any program in one day. Players get to play in front of a crowd, fans get an up-close look at the upcoming team, the public gets involved in causes the team supports, it can be an effective or unique way to recruit, and it can be a fun family event that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It really is a bummer that Minnesota decided to move their spring game inside and close it to the public. It’s time for the program to get creative and figure out how to create a great “Spring Game Day” atmosphere for Minnesota fans. Creativity is not a problem with this current coaching staff; P.J. Fleck and his staff have shown to be creative in almost every other area when it comes to football operations. Could U.S. Bank Stadium be a possible hosting site? It sure would cost a lot, wouldn’t be on campus, and every seat definitely wouldn’t be filled, but you have to admit that it would be pretty cool.
Either way, Minnesota’s weather isn’t going away, and neither is the spring game. The new scoreboard under construction is not a big deal either. As someone reminded me on Twitter, the weather isn’t stopping the Gophers softball team this weekend as they face off against Iowa.
If our rivals, Wisconsin and Iowa, are keeping their events outside in similar weather this weekend, I think we should at least try and do the same.