|Winning nonconference games is a lot more fun for Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill. (US Presswire)|
As a college football fan, I wasn't happy to learn that Minnesota on Tuesday announced it bought out of its scheduled home-and-home series with North Carolina. The more games that I can get between major conference schools in September, the better.
Conversely, I find it hard to blame Minnesota for making such a move. Sure, Gophers fans and students probably don't like the idea of seeing another cupcake on the schedule in September. But given where Minnesota is as a program, this is the right move.
To Minnesota's credit, it's not trying to pretend this decision was anything other than what it is, either.
"If we want to win, we're going to have to do some things that squeeze us," said athletic director Norwood Teague. "We're going to make some decisions that don't really look good on paper at times, because of where we are. I know it doesn't always settle right with our fans, but it's what's got to happen."
Since 2009, Minnesota has played nonconference games against USC, Syracuse and California. The Gophers were 2-3 in those games. They also haven't played in a bowl since 2009's Insight Bowl, which they lost to Iowa State to finish 6-7.
The last time that Minnesota finished a season with a winning record was in 2008. It's nonconference schedule that season consisted of Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic. In 2003, Minnesota finished 10-3 -- beating Oregon in the Sun Bowl -- and played Tulsa, Troy, Ohio and Louisiana-Lafayette.
In fact, in the seasons during which Minnesota has qualified for a bowl since 2002, it has gone 24-2 in nonconference games, with both of those losses coming against California. It might not be an exciting formula for fans, but it's obviously a successful one for the Minnesota program.
If Minnesota ever wants to become a program that is a consistent threat in the Big Ten, consistent bowl appearances are a major step toward getting there. If that means scheduling more South Dakota States than North Carolinas, fans will just have to accept it.
Sometimes you have to feast on cupcakes to get yourself healthy.