MINNEAPOLIS — Oddities for 500: A famous game show host who received a signed oar encouraging him to keep fighting through a cancer diagnosis, and in the process, became a Gophers fan.
Who is Alex Trebek?
When the "Jeopardy!" host was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019, Minnesota players signed an oar and sent it to Trebek. He replied with a letter.
"It was a really nice, hand-written, thoughtful letter of him researching Row the Boat and him saying he’s going to Row the Boat and he’s a big fan of the Gophers now," Fleck said on his KFAN show this week. "I have that framed on my wall just to remind us that it’s way bigger than the wins and losses."
Trebek passed away Sunday at the age of 80, and that letter became a subject on Fleck’s weekly radio show.
"It doesn’t matter if you know them or not," Fleck said. "We are going to be here for people that are fans of us, people who don’t know us."
Another example of Minnesota’s program reaching out came this year when each Gophers player sent a hand-written letter to Ted Morgan, the father of Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan, who has been battling brain cancer in Kentucky.
Rashod Bateman, the 2019 Big Ten receiver of the year, has been targeted on 45 percent of Morgan’s 77 pass attempts this season.
Bateman has caught 24 of the 33 targets for 302 yards, one touchdown, and he was in Morgan’s sights on both of his two interceptions this season.
Like the Minnesota high school hockey state tournament, the Gophers football team is producing its own all-hair team.
Right tackle Blaise Andries said he has been working on his wavy locks since last July and also got highlights. Right guard Conner Olson "tried to one-up me," Andries said, and got his hair bleached and cut into a mullet. Left tackle Sam Schlueter also has a mullet, while backup guard Austin Beier has long hair, too.
Andries said he jokes with Beier: "Next time I go to get my highlights, he’s coming with me."
Not mentioned was tight end Ko Kieft, who has shoulder-length red hair and wore big polarized sunglasses before Saturday's game at Illinois. He looked more like a pro wrestler than a college football player.
Green line airborne
Gophers offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. said last week he wants to get Seth Green more involved in the passing game.
The regular wildcat quarterback from Woodbury received his first receiving target of the season in the Illinois game, but the pass was incomplete. It could be a sign of things to come for the senior.
In his regular role, Green has four rushes for eight yards and a touchdown this season.