History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

U of M sports popularity has lapsed

The baseball strike in 1994 pretty much took care of my interest in that sport. My interest today is only passing. So I'm not riveted on what the heck "bilateral leg weakness" is. It's the curious malady of Joe Mauer.
Sounds like a good excuse for me in terms of not resuming jogging.
The strike killed a golden goose for many. A sport where I once felt emotions became distant.
Whatever interest I show in baseball in the future, it will not be emotional. It will be occasional curiosity.
There is a parallel of sorts with U of M Gophers athletics. The problem here is that our family has Mediacom TV cable. For a long time now, we only occasionally get the opportunity to see the Gophers men's basketball and football teams.
These servings are so scant, we essentially have "moved on" and don't watch the schedule to see when an ESPN channel might toss us a scrap.
This feeling of indifference set in slowly. Would it help if finally we could get the Big 10 Network? It might be too late.
As with the '94 baseball strike, the scarcity of the Gophers on a major cable provider spells bad news for fan interest. When it subsides, it can be hard to revive. It's like I have gone through "withdrawal."
The lack of competitiveness might well be a factor. The University of Minnesota is in the news in a curious way now, with an outgoing athletic director being treated in a sort of royal way. It's a way not merited by the track record. The "retiring" Joel Maturi has gotten a plum one-year appointment that will compensate him in a way that makes most of us salivate.
Maturi will be a special assistant to the U president, Eric Kaler (the man from Stony Brook). Kaler has waded into controversy in his still-young tenure. Maturi's package has been decried as the classic "golden parachute." A legislator has trotted out that description.
Why would the AD wish to "parachute" from a flaming wreckage of a situation? And if so, why will this vague one-year gig net him such a fortune? If the U is to be an institution of the people, in these austere times, is this arrangement not disastrous?
Once again I'm reminded of a nugget that Jesse Ventura gave us. In his wrangling with then-U head Mark Yudof, the wrestler/governor stated "for the amount of money you're asking for the University, maybe I should run it."
I realize Maturi's compensation comes from some sort of special fund, so it's not like the taxpayers are cutting a check per se. But the U's assets ought to be viewed in sum. If you can't sell a fund as being worthy of taxpayer input - if you have to scratch and claw to rationalize it - there's a problem.
I guarantee you Ventura wouldn't stay mum on this.
I'm viewing this spectacle as a boomer. Because of that status I nearly want to weep with nostalgia when I think back to the Bill Musselman era in U of M basketball. It was intense and caffeinated and ended in a fireball of problems. But boy, did we ever pay attention.
Coach Jim Dutcher gave us a pretty good dose of excitement and success in hoops. Women's basketball had its day with Lindsay Whalen, although considering that team's personnel, I can't imagine how they came up short of a national title.
Football under Lou Holtz gave us a glimmer of what it's like to be really big time.
Success has often been accompanied by problems. The Clem Haskins era ended in a fireball of problems.
It's easy to decry big time college sports as dysfunctional, as it's quasi-professional under the guise of academia's purity. Purity shmurity. Now we have the mess at the U with Maturi's rather disturbing compensation package, and this mess wasn't even an offshoot of winning. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
Kaler has declined an interview request by the Star Tribune. That shouldn't stop the media. Just do an "ambush interview" of the type crafted by Fox News. The O'Reilly show did this to the head of Syracuse University once, in one of the most pathetic displays of this technique. Some obscure Syracuse academic had criticized O'Reilly.
It appears the current U of M kerfuffle, where even state legislators are speaking critically, warrants such attention and skepticism now.
A U of M spokesperson, not Kaler, has stated that Maturi's compensation package "reflects the market for someone with his skills and experience."
Part of that experience is leaving the U on the hook for expensive contract buyouts. Glen Mason, Tim Brewster and Dan Monson were told to just mosey on down the road. With pockets bulging of course.
Which points to what is perhaps the crux of the problem here. I didn't come into town on a turnip truck. I'm boomer-age and I used to write sports. I understand that community and culture. We're talking "good old boys" here.
When you're in the fraternity, you'll be taken care of. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. The U speaks bureaucratise in laying out the Maturi package. We hear that Maturi is "a terrific human being." We hear about that nebulous "market" dictating what's right for this individual.
Smelling around, I suspect that maybe Maturi knows where some bodies are buried. His compensation package is close to $470,000, according to the Star Tribune which Kaler seeks to slam the door on. Legislators have said the arrangement could hurt the U for state funding.
The Kaler honeymoon must be over now. It's an issue of relevance out here in West Central Minnesota where we have the U's jewel in the crown: our UMM. Regardless of what Kaler does, he'd be treated like royalty out here.
It's much more critical how he'll be perceived under the capitol dome. A golden parachute, bestowed with a windy and bureaucratic explanation, to a failed AD, making him look like one of the "one per cent," is the last thing the U should be doing now.
We can't even beat the boys from Vermillion (SD) in football now. Or the Bison of NDSU, who proved their first win over us wasn't a fluke. Fargo and Vermillion are supposed to be minor league compared to us. Their games should almost be scrimmage-like.
Can we not see the forest for the trees? I guarantee you, Ventura would.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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