Carlson is an athlete from Southeastern Minnesota who made big waves coming down the stretch of his prep career. He is of interest to Morris residents - that's because he's the great grand nephew of Truman Carlson. There's a good chance you had Truman for a biology class at Morris High School.
These days the retired Carlson is most pleased to follow athletic prodigy Noah. Noah plays for Rushford-Peterson in the shadow of Magelssen's Bluff. I had the pleasure once of covering an MAHS Tiger football game at R-P during our climb to Prep Bowl. That was many moons ago. Jerry Witt was the coach of our Tigers.
Noah Carlson might fit in with the much-ballyhooed new football regime at the U of M. Let's stress that the young man has not yet made a commitment. It appears there's no guarantee he'll even commit to football. His track and field credentials are absolutely stellar.
John Casper of the Winona Daily News feels the U ought to court Carlson. Casper wrote his column before the new coach was named at the U. We are again digesting a pile of hype about a new coach in a high-profile sport at the U. We're always supposed to think the new coach is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The Star Tribune publishes sensational splashes. We got this for Jerry Kill too. Then reality sets in.
With Kill, the new reality is that he turns thumbs down on the U of M and is personally boycotting our stadium. He's coaching for fellow Big 10 member Rutgers now. Rutgers is creeping along from a weak position but it could be a sleeping giant - it's in the New York City market which is why the Big 10 coveted getting them. Coach Kill walked away from the U with a wheelbarrow full of largesse money, and now he's coaching against us!
Casper publicly encouraged the new coach to get on Highway 61 and go south. Casper noted that Highway 52 would actually be faster "but you can't beat those views, even in the winter." The writer advised "plug the address of Rushford-Peterson into your GPS. Find Noah Carlson. Offer him a scholarship. And don't leave until he says yes. Four or five years from now, you'll thank me. I know it."
The writer advised that Carlson would have a steadying influence at the stew of turbulence which has become the U of M football program. Tracy Claeys is the departed coach. We all know what happened with the sensational reports of personal behavior, the suspensions and that stupid threatened boycott. On the morning that the "boycott" was withdrawn - about two hours before the deadline - I read the headline and shuddered. If the players were not going to have the courage of their convictions - if they cold not buttress their actions with a firm factual background - they should have just shut up and gotten ready to play their game against Washington State.
The U of M was dealt a black eye of embarrassment and humiliation. Is it anyone's fault? Oh, listen to all those violins being played by "administrative" people. What a tangled web we weave. And now this morning (Wednesday), as I passed by the Star Tribune vending machine in front of DeToy's Restaurant, I peered through the darkness (and snow) to see a headline about the U of M wanting a ton more money. It's knee-jerk. It's the way these creatures operate. But wait, I thought that MnSCU (or whatever it's called now) has proclaimed a "financial emergency." Won't the state have to take care of them?
My personal view is that our society needs to start getting ready for the phasing-out of all bricks-and-mortar campuses of "higher education." We will be relieved of all those sexual assault episodes and controversies. I think young adults could stay at home for 3-4 years after high school, contributing to the family welfare while gaining knowledge for a career with the use of online. But until then, we have the quasi-professional phenomenon known as Division I college football. And every day we take another bite. The players get beat up.
Noah Carlson has already gotten nicked by injury. Memo to Noah: Take care of your body. Maybe you should have refused to play "both ways" (offense and defense). The coaches are paid to win, not to take care of you.
Noah for his part probably feels the "invulnerability of youth." He was full-go physically for the state semis and sprinted all over the place. He rushed for 236 yards and scored four touchdowns, and by the way, this was all in the first half!
In the state championship game, when R-P finally came up against a foe of truly superior caliber, the physical toll was too much for the young man. A two-point conversion play saw him take a hard fall, the result of which was a hairline fracture of his tibia and partial tear of his meniscus. He missed two plays and then came back. He came back to be involved in all phases of play: offense, defense and special teams.
Casper talked about Carlson's pained look as he realized a loss was about to happen. This loss will be quickly forgotten. What's important now is that Noah gets his physical problems patched up. Heck, some of the top college football stars are passing on their bowl game so as to stay healthy for the NFL draft - that's how cautious these young men become. Carlson should be no different. No pat on the back is called for, for "playing hurt."
Noah was the state AP Player of the Year. He took five gold medals at the state track and field meet. As a sophomore he was part of a state basketball championship. I just hope and pray he hasn't over-taxed his body. He has scholarship offers from South Dakota State and North Dakota State. But what about the University of Minnesota? Is that the environment he would really want to step into?
The new coach comes here buried under an avalanche of money. The figures end up having no impact on us anymore. They are just wildly high. Double them. Triple them. Would it really matter? I sense this pattern is almost getting into Sodom and Gomorrah territory. Will God punish us for our misplaced priorities?
It's hard to turn away from big-time football. You could argue it's a societal disease. But the norm continues. The legislature should impose restraint and austerity on the U of M. As for MnSCU or whatever it is, maybe it should just be allowed to die on the vine. Countless young people could be spared the temptation to engage in "binge drinking."
I hope Noah Carlson takes care of his body above all else.