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On Friday, Gophers safety Tyler Nubin announced, "I'm not done yet,'' opting to return to the team in 2023 rather than declare for this spring's NFL draft.

On Sunday, another Gophers safety, Michael "Flip'' Dixon, announced he's out of here, choosing to enter the transfer portal.

Coach P.J. Fleck might not have wanted the latter portion of this safety dance, but that's the reality of the transfer portal, which has a window opening Monday for players to leave programs. So far, six Gophers have indicated they're taking that option. Five were reserves who hadn't played extensively, but in Dixon, the Gophers are losing a versatile, athletic 6-2, 210-pounder who figured heavily in their 2023 plans. Dixon played 12 games this season, starting the regular-season finale in place of an injured Nubin. Dixon, a Statesboro, Ga., native, has two years of eligibility remaining.

"With the portal, every team in the country is going through this right now,'' Fleck said Sunday. "You look at Nubin's announcement and think back to last year. Mohamed [Ibrahim] announced [he was returning], and two running backs left. It's just part of college football.''

Last offseason, freshman running backs Mar'Keise Irving and Ky Thomas transferred after Ibrahim, who was lost for the season because of a torn Achilles' tendon, said he'd play for the Gophers in 2022. Thomas made his move, eventually to Kansas, less than a week after he was named offensive MVP of Minnesota's Guaranteed Rate Bowl win. Irving left in April, settling on Oregon.

Fleck knows there's no putting the genie back in the bottle regarding transfers.

"Fans of college football, especially here in Minnesota, need to just wrap our heads around it a little bit that the game has changed,'' Fleck said. "Recruiting has changed. Transferring has changed. Transferring use to be like, 'Oh, man, what's wrong?' It just happens [now].''

House of (baseball) horrors

By playing in the Pinstripe Bowl, the Gophers will have a chance to win in a venue that hasn't been kind to another Minnesota team in the postseason. The Twins are 2-8 all-time in playoff games at Yankee Stadium, including an active seven-game postseason skid against the Bronx Bombers.

Presumably, the Pinstripe Bowl's officiating crew won't include MLB umpire Phil Cuzzi, who in Game 2 of a 2009 playoff series infamously called Joe Mauer's would-be ground-rule double in the top of the 11th foul when the ball tipped off left fielder Melky Cabrera's glove and clearly landed in fair territory. The Twins lost that game 4-3 in 11 innings.


  • Fleck said Nubin (hand injury) will be available to play in the Pinstripe Bowl.
  • Quarterback Tanner Morgan, who suffered a concussion on Oct. 15 at Illinois and was reinjured Nov. 5 at Nebraska, was expected to practice Sunday. "He's still under the medical care, but he's back to practicing at different levels,'' Fleck said.
  • This will mark the second consecutive bowl game Minnesota has played in a baseball stadium. Last year, the Gophers defeated West Virginia 18-6 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
  • The Gophers have appeared in 22 bowls in their history, posting a 10-12 record. They're on a five-game bowl winning streak, with the past three under Fleck.
  • Syracuse is appearing in the Pinstripe Bowl for the third time, most of any team. The Orange beat Kansas State 36-34 in the inaugural game in 2010, then topped West Virginia 38-14 in 2012.