The University of Minnesota's name for all of the sports teams is the Gophers. Often called the "Golden Gophers," the football team, led by coach Jerry Kill, wears maroon and gold. This tradition is so strong that fans proudly wear their maroon and gold in the stands, on their cars, and around town.
In fact, in 1934, in support of the Gophers football national championship team, the Minnesota State Patrol changed their colors from grey to maroon and gold -- and never switched back.
Here is a brief history of the Minnesota Golden Gophers name:
1) State of Minnesota's first name: Beaver State. This was not particularly popular.
2) First state of Minnesota name change: Gopher State.
3) What year did Minnesota change its name to Gopher State?: 1857
4) Why Minnesota was called the Gopher State: A cartoon depicting local politicians with gophers on their heads, pulling a locomotive was published, and the satirical depiction of the gophers stuck.
5) When the University of Minnesota began to use "Gophers" for its teams: No exact date was recorded, but a few years after the 1857 cartoon was published.
6) When the Gophers became "Golden Gophers": Legendary Twin Cities broadcaster Halsey Hall called the Gophers the "Golden Gophers" after observing the team's all-gold uniforms.
7) The reason the "Golden" name stuck: The team won a great deal of national championships and seven Big Ten titles between 1932-1941. its success was considered "golden."
8) The reason why the Gophers wear maroon and gold: In 1880, English instructor Augusta Smith chose the maroon and gold colors for the graduation ribbons that year. This color combination proved so popular that they continued that color combination afterward.
9) The "Golden" nickname for the school mascot: Goldy Gopher.
10) When the name "gopher" equals Minnesota: In the two University of Minnesota rousers -- "Our Minnesota" and "Go Gopher Victory" (Gopher "M") -- both use "Gopher" to mean Minnesota team.
Georgia Makitalo is an alum of the University of Minnesota, studying English, Art History and Classics and cheering on the Gophers!