TCF Bank Stadium

Gophers have $3 million reasons to share with Vikings


As the Minnesota Vikings and the state’s legislature continue to haggle over public money and how it will be used to finance a new stadium, the NFL club has reached a tentative agreement that will fatten the coffers of its in-state football sibling.

In a press release sent out late Thursday night, the University of Minnesota announced that it had “agreed to a Letter of Intent which allows the Vikings’ use of TCF Bank Stadium during potential construction at the current Metrodome site of a new stadium for the National Football League franchise.”

The school’s Board of Regents will meet tomorrow and likely rubber stamp the LOI, and president Eric Kaler is expected to sign the deal in the next few days.

“The Minnesota Vikings are an important asset to the state and we were pleased to work with them on reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement to host them on our campus,” Kaler said in a statement. “The Vikings will remain part of the Twin Cities region during construction of their new stadium, while the proceeds from this arrangement will be invested in our athletic department to enhance Gopher sports.”

Money is also an important asset to the state’s flagship university, and the Gophers will be paid handsomely to play host to the NFL club.  Per the release, the university will be paid $3 million annually for allowing the Vikings to play eight regular season and two meaningle$$ preseason games.  The breakdown is as follows:

Under the agreement, the Vikings will pay the university a fixed fee of $250,000 per game.  In addition, concessions, sponsorship and advertising dollars will be divided between the parties under the terms of the Letter of Intent, said university General Counsel Mark Rotenberg. He stated that the additional revenue to the university is expected to be $50,000 per game…

The agreement also states that “[t]he Vikings may lease TCF Bank Stadium for up to four consecutive NFL seasons anticipated to start in 2013; or, they can play at the facility for all or part of one NFL season, anticipated to be the 2015 season.”  During whatever period it is that the Vikings utilize TCF Bank Stadium, the team will be permitted to play only one weeknight game per season, with that date subject to approval by the university.

The home of the Gophers is an open-air stadium that was completed in 2009.  If all goes as planned, this will mark the first season the Vikings have played a full year of games outdoors in nearly three decades.

It won’t be the club’s first rodeo in TCF Bank Stadium, however.  In December of 2010, the inflatable roof of the Metrodome collapsed, and the Vikings were forced to play its Dec. 20 game against the Chicago Bears at the university’s stadium.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian
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Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.