The annual rash of blowout victories in the opening round of the state football playoffs has brought on renewed calls for limiting the entry to post-season play.
Unlike most states in the country, Minnesota still adheres to the "everybody goes" theory of post-season play and removes much of the meaning of the regular season.
Many states limit the post season to teams with .500 records or better. Minnesota began the grid playoffs with only conference champions admitted along with independents meeting criteria.
That was soon abandoned, stretching the playoffs several weeks and setting up mismatches.
This year, for example, first and second-seeded teams went 66-2 over the 7-8 seeds with numerous games ended before the first quarter was done.
Four and five-touchdown leads were commonplace by the quarter as were 40 to 50-point spreads by halftime. Two eighth seeds forfeited.
Last year, the No. 1-2 seeds went 60-1 in the first round with the lone lower rated team to win, Duluth Central, demolished at Bemidji 40-0 the next week.
This year's two upset winners, Bagley and Fertile, were both seeded seventh.
In northeastern Minnesota, the first round scoring differential in the opening round was 606-55. One of the losing 17 teams scored 18 of the 55 points. Ten others were blanked.
Scores in the state ranged as high as the 70-0 setback sustained by once powerful Minneapolis Roosevelt.
New league named
The newly formed athletic conference in the St. Cloud area will be called the Granite Ridge League.
The name was chosen at a meeting of the seven league teams.
The name was chosen over River Lakes or North Star with the former conflicting with the Rocori, Paynesville, Albany hockey co-op and the latter already in use in the area.
Members of the new circuit include Little Falls, Foley, Milaca, Mora, St. Cloud Cathedral, Princeton and Zimmerman with Becker still considering an invitation to be the eighth team.
That school's executive committee and coaches have voted overwhelmingly to make the switch.
Meanwhile the Central Lakes is considering its options if Duluth East and Central and Grand Rapids are adjoined to that league by the MSHSL as is Bemidji and Moorhead at the present time.
St. Cloud Tech and Apollo, Sartell and Sauk Rapids are also considering joining members of the Mississippi 8 Conference in forming another new league with Rocori as a fifth potential CLC member. It would cut travel costs appreciably for the five nearby schools.
It might also open the door for Bemidji and Moorhead to finally become full-time members of the Central Lakes with Brainerd, Alexandria, Fergus Falls and Willmar and perhaps the three Section 7 teams.
The University of North Dakota has finally found a new home.
UND and Southern Utah have accepted membership in the Big Sky Conference in all sports.
Earlier, the Sioux had called off a visit from the Summit Conference where UND had applied for membership. That league, however, does not sponsor football.
The Sioux will become a Big Sky member July 1, 2012 but will begin work on scheduling conference opponents immediately.
South Dakota was also rumored ready to join the league.
But USD voted instead to join the Missouri Valley Conference for football and the Summit League for all other sports.
The Summit does not sponsor football.
The switch will reunite USD with SDSU which is a member of those two circuits.
UND, since its move to Division I in 2007, has competed independently except for its membership in the Great West football conference which will fold after this year.
UND will have to add a men's tennis program to meet the Big Sky's 14-sport requirement.
League members include Montana, Montana State, Idaho State, Eastern Washington, Portland State, Weber State, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State and Northern Arizona
UC-Davis and Cal-Poly have also recently joined the league for football only.
Good friend lost
Bemidji baseball lost a good friend and strong supporter with the death of Tim Murphy of Longville in a one-vehicle crash.
The 52-year-old retired highway patrolman and Longville city employee, is the father of Brian and Kevin Murphy who played VFW and Legion baseball at Bemidji and were members of the Mudcats last summer.
Both played their high school baseball under former Bemidji coach Tim Vagle.
Brian began his collegiate career in football at St. Thomas but transferred to BSU last season to play baseball. His younger brother is expected to join him with the Beavers next spring.
Niles sets mark
Grand Rapids' Kelly Niles set a new single season school record for kills during the Rapids 3-0 win over Coleraine in the Iron Range Conference tournament's title game.
She ended the night with 348, besting the former mark of 340 held by Brynn Joki set in 2009.
Joki, the daughter of former Rapids coach Beth Joki, is now at UND.
Niles has her sights set on playing for BSU next fall to continue her volleyball career.
She began her varsity career as a freshman.
Brainerd's opening playoff win and the loss by Verndale of its opener lifted Ron Stolski of Brainerd into first place as the state's all-time leading football coach.
It was win No. 328 for Stolski, one above Mike Mahlen of Verndale.
The Warriors completed their third unbeaten grid season this fall and Stolski's third outright CLC title in his 36 years at the Brainerd helm.
Hanson hits 1,000
Nevis' Riley Hanson recently recorded the 1,000th kill of her career in the Tigers volleyball win over Kelliher-Northome.
She had 22 attacks, 15 kills and five aces in the three-game sweep.
Apple Valley's boys and Eden Prairie's girls won Class 2A soccer titles as did Prairie Seeds Academy's boys and Rogers' girls in Class A.
Northern Minnesota was again shut out with St. Cloud Cathedral taking third in the 1A boys' meet. Duluth East's and East Grand Forks' girls and Proctor's boys bowed in the quarterfinals.
Earning All-Tournament honors were Brody Morin of Proctor, Ben Kemper, Mike Schuweiler and Bret Schwinghammer of Cathedral, Andrea Hyduke of Duluth East and East Grand Forks' Jaclyn Scanlan.
Edina and Rochester Lourdes won state tennis titles, Edina taking its 14th straight (29th overall) 5-2 over Mounds View and Lourdes its 12th in 14 years in Class a, edging Staples-Motley 4-3 in the title match.