It's often overlooked but fan still stands for fanatic. Fanatic means obsessive interest, and obsession at times lacks perspective & objectivity. I think that describes the average sports fan to a T. So after a night and day like Monday for those in the Northern Heartland, it's important to point out that the Sun still rose. That no one that I know of lost their life over the sporting related events of Monday. In case you have internet but live under a rock, let me break down just exactly what happened yesterday.
The first bomb to drop was the agreement by NDSU's head Football coach Chris Klieman to take the job at Kansas State.
In the evening the Vikings closed out the first round of the Fantasy Football playoffs in Seattle with a loss.
And for good measure the Timberwolves played at full strength against the reigning champs of the NBA.
So that's the short of it. Now check out the long!
A December Basketball game doesn't move the meter too much, even for me, but I was interested to see how the team would stack up in it's current form against the class of the NBA. The positive vibes and boundless enjoyment that was palpable over the first couple weeks post drama seems to have worn off. With it has gone the iron fisted defense that they were employing against their opponents. But then again, the kind of defense that they were playing probably isn't sustainable over 65 games and Golden State & Portland are both amongst the best in the Western Conference. It's just a bit disheartening cause it wasn't even a week ago that this team seemed on the fast track to the playoffs. I don't think that's changed but it's a bit disheartening that they dropped the last two games like they did.
But the Timberwolves outing paled in comparison to the ineptitude of the Vikings last night. The defense has returned to the form of last season, and they've been at that level for a few weeks now. The offense looks as bad as a Christian Ponder lead operation. The record setting passing offense of the early season is dead & buried. Partly due to injuries. Partly due to adjustments by defenses. And partly due to the fact that they are trying to force feed a running game. I like Dalvin Cook, he has high upside and Latavius Murray can be a quality compliment from the backfield. But with the offensive line struggling yet again, forcing the running game to be the principle facet of the offense is not going to work. But there's also the fact that Cousins may be shell shocked by all the hits he's taken over the last month. And actually, over the whole season, he was just able to deliver the ball so well under pressure earlier in the year.
Want some good news?
I don't have any.
But I do have more bad news. The team is in a no win situation. Even if they lose out the Vikings will finish around the 15th spot. The front office has shown an ability to find talent at every point of the draft but that would be like salt in the wound of a terrible season.
The alternative is to win enough games to make the playoffs and see what happens. Probably a first round knockout by the Bears but maybe they would get Dallas. Getting to the second round after the way the year has spiraled would be miraculous.
So that's what lies ahead of us for the Vikings. It doesn't really do anything to ease the headache that I have but maybe the final piece of the three piece puzzle will do some good.
Let me be clear from the jump, the departure by Chris Klieman from NDSU is a loss for the program. He's always come across to me as a quality man, above & beyond his excellence in recruiting & coaching. It's a loss but it may also be a gain.
We live in Fargo. We live in the shadow of the Twin Cities. We don't even have a program like what Grand Forks has with their men's Hockey team at that university. Like it or not, the FCS will always be marginalized nationally and that's what the local sports scene chooses to hang it's hat on. So getting a coach who, after only a handful of seasons, is able to jump from the FCS to a program that can annually be ranked in the top 25 is a massive boon for NDSU and the FCS at large.
It will be imperative for the next coach to smoothly transition into the next era. Imperative for the players that are under scholarship for next season & beyond but also for the roughly two dozen new recruits that will be charged with continuing the success of the last decade. There are a few names that have already begun to rise to the top amongst the fanbase.
But from a Monday that potentially featured nothing but negativity for fans in this area, it's not all doom & gloom. It was all losses, but there are also a gain from what unfolded yesterday. It may seem like pittance in comparison but the thing that people most loudly obsess about around here has the positive so don't lose sight of that!
And the sun rose once again so 🙂