Things are looking up for Williams Arena!
I attended the University of Minnesota for just under three years before transferring to Franciscan University of Steubenville, and I had student season tickets each one of those three years. While the basketball teams those years ('92-'93 to '94-'95) weren't quite the '96-'97 that (now unofficially) won the Big Ten title and made it to the Final Four, they were still fun to watch: Ariel McDonald, Randy Carter, Townsend Orr, Voshon Lenard, et al. From those years to the peak years of that '96-'97 team, Williams Arena was a hot ticket in Minneapolis.
Then, scandal. Faced with the pressures of winning in a major conference, Clem Haskins recruited some guys with solid talent but less-than-solid character and academics. And it caught up with him. Just two years after taking his team to the Final Four, Haskins was forced out and the team was placed under severe penalties by the NCAA.
Dan Monson replaced Haskins, and cleaned things up off the court, but on the court, they turned ugly, and quickly. While some of the blame must fall on the sanctions, Monson simply wasn't able to recruit and coach the kind of talent needed to win in the Big 10. And so he was fired just seven games into this season, and ten years after making the Final Four, the Golden Gophers finished 9-22, setting a school record for most losses in a season. Tickets that once couldn't be found now couldn't be unloaded quickly enough.
Today, none of that matters.
At a noon press conference, Tubby Smith will be introduced as the new men's basketball coach for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the last ten years of misery will soon be forgotten.