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MOUNT ROYAL…. The UMD Bulldog football season came to an end on Saturday as the Bulldogs lost out on their bid to successfully defend their NCAA Division II National Championship from last season, losing to Wayne State University by a 31-25 final. But even within a game where they had established a time of possession superiority in the first half, the Dogs were basically playing catch-up all afternoon. A final hail mary play late in the 4th quarter went for naught and Wayne State, from the Detroit area, advances to the DII semifinals this weekend.
Another group of seniors has played in their final collegiate football tilt, and this group may have been one of the most successful in UMD football history, going 52-5 over four seasons and winning two National Championships. And if my math is correct folks, that is a .961 winning percentage, which is just about all but unheard of in team sports competition. Whether football is your sport or not, and whether the Dogs are your team or not, that is excellence personified. My hat is off to you guys and to you Coach Nielson, you are all top notch….
Saturday wasn’t the only loss suffered by UMD football over the weekend as coaching legend Jim Malosky passed away on Sunday from respiratory failure at the age of 82. If Coach Nielson is the guy who is placing some stars on the UMD football map, Malosky is the guy who got them on there to begin with. I had arrived on the North Shore to live in the late eighties as Malosky was embarking on what would be his fourth and final decade of UMD football.
As a person who took in all kinds of sports action and information, I immediately could see that Malosky was one of those guys that you took notice of. Not because DII football was all over the national media spotlight, or that the Dogs competed against some metro area schools and got some press in the Twin Cities, or even because a famous alum, Ted McKnight, made it into the NFL and held his own for 6 seasons. I mean, here is my perspective for you: For almost 30 years of my life I got to see upwards of 150 major sporting events per year between the NFL, MLB and the NHL and DI sports contests, not including televised events. I saw Muhammad Ali once from 10 feet away telling Larry Holmes how he was going to whup him, once walked into the Met Stadium press entrance behind Howard Cosell and Terry Bradshaw, I saw the Montreal Canadiens in their heyday, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe and so on. So what would the fascination with Jim Malosky be?
The fascination was with a person who toiled OUT of that kind of spotlight and never took his focus away from always performing in a manner of excellence. The guy who had a body of work spread out over five different decades from the fifties to the nineties and NEVER missed a day of work, ever. You know that saying, the one about how the mark of true character is how you act when no one is watching you? That was Coach Malosky. He only knew one way to do the things that he did, the right way. He was a builder of young men with character and discipline.
Another remarkable thing about him that I had found out was that he had made the Gopher football team as a 17 year old freshmen in an era where the Gophers were one of the kingpins of collegiate football. Even more amazing to me was in examining the rosters of the teams he was on and seeing the absolute star power, the accomplishments of
his teammates both on and off the field. Guys like Bud Grant, Billy Bye, Verne Gagne, Clayton Tonnemaker, Leo Nomellini, Gordie Soltau, Cal Stoll and more. These teams were great because of the character and talent of the young men upon them and Malosky was right there in the mix.
In a day and age where we see the troubles and woes of major sports in print and on our screens on a daily, even hourly basis, Malosky’s era and teams, and even Malosky himself were a refreshing oasis of truth, unrelenting hard work and commitment, respect and dignity, which carries forth today. Coach, many family and friends will personally miss you as you are gone from us now, gone to a better place, many more will miss you because of what you were and represented…. PEACE
MFAN SHORTS; In the latest USCHO DI Men’s Ice Hockey rank, the UMD Bulldogs have regained the number one spot, and in the number two spot? The Golden Gophers! I think this is incredible and fantastic at the same time. And since my memory is fairly lousy at this point in time, anyone out there in the Northland know if these two clubs have ever been ranked in this fashion before? My memory says no, but I’m not sure!
I wrote last week of the Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau being fired Monday morning, then he was hired by the Anaheim Ducks early Wednesday morn after they fired long time Head Coach Randy Carlyle! Good for BB, too bad for Carlyle…
MFAN NFL PICKS FOR WEEK 14;
(HOME team in CAPS)
PITT over Cleve
T-bay over JAX
Pats over WASH
Hous over CINCY
J-E-T-S over Chefs
LION over Vikes
Saints over TENN
MIAMI over Philly
CHEESE over Oak
BALT over Indy
CARO over Atlanta
DEN over Bear
San Fran over CARDS
Buff over SAN-D
SEATTLE over StL
Giants over BOYS
FINAL RESULT FROM WEEK 12; 12-4
FINAL RESULTS FROM WEEK 13; 10-6
SEASON TOTAL; 125-67 OVER & OUT!!
Marc Elliott is a free lance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County Chronicle for the past ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710 AM in Duluth.