DESPERATE TO REGAIN THE AXE? The University of Minnesota (motto: ten thousand ways to surrender the Axe) did defenestrate football coach Tim Brewster, and hiring Jerry Kill from Northern Illinois, another team that ran the ball 'round Minnesota. One way to improve your team is to bring in better people.

"I look at things as you could either be a launching pad or a graveyard," [Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff] Compher said. "I'd rather be the launching pad.

"I think it says our program is being recognized as a national level program, that you can come here and you can win."

Despite a hiccup in Detroit, Northern Illinois is headed to the blue fields of Boise for a dog fight in the uDrove [c.q.] Humanitarian Bowl. A Mid-American also-ran, Toledo, gets the bid for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (burp) to be played in Detroit. (Didn't I say second place, a week in Detroit?) The Detroit bowl had first pick of Mid-American teams and went for the commuters. (But it's amateur sports, and it has nothing to do with money).

As for Jerry Kill, we will be keeping track of the Axe. The keepers of the Axe are headed to the Rose Bowl.

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