A couple noteworthy firsts accompanied the University of Minnesota's 31-26 victory over No. 4 Penn State on Saturday. It was the first time the Gophers had defeated a top-five-ranked opponent at home since 1977, and the win landed the team at 9-0 for the first time since 1904.
With talk turning to the potential for Minnesota's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1962 comes speculation of what impact beyond the field the Gophers' good fortunes this season might carry.
“At the bar, at the water cooler, everybody is talking about the University of Minnesota,” university director of public relations Jake Ricker told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We are seeing a lot of positivity and attention. This is a program that has waited awhile to take its turn at the top, and it’s taking its turn right now.”
At of Tuesday morning, the football team’s Twitter account had seen 9.2 million impressions — the number of times a tweet showed up in a user’s timeline — 18,700 retweets and 133,600 likes on Twitter in the previous seven days. For the entire month of September, the account had 10.3 million impressions, 7,600 retweets and 76,800 likes on Twitter.
GopherSports.com saw about 75 percent more visitors than the previous week and the football page within the site saw more than double the number of page views as the previous week, the University of Minnesota Athletic Department said.
When a school rises from mediocre to great on the gridiron, applications increase by 18.7 percent, Richard Chung of the Harvard Business School wrote in the paper, “The Dynamic Advertising Effect of Collegiate Athletics,” published in the 2013 edition of Marketing Science.
For example, Big Ten Conference rival Northwestern University, long regarded as a league doormat, found that its number of applications rose 21 percent after winning the Big Ten Championship in football in 1996, according to Chung's study.
Ricker told the Star Tribune that it will take time for the university to see any tangible results from this season's football success in terms of increased interest, applications and donations.
But one thing is certain, according to Katy Briggs, who is majoring in communications and theater arts: “It will put us in the map.”
In the meantime, the Gophers, currently ranked seventh, still must face two top-25 teams — at Iowa this Saturday and Wisconsin on Nov. 30. In between, Minnesota travels to Northwestern.