Most of the country has long forgotten about Sarah Palin, leaving her to a quiet life of closely monitoring Russia, bravely leading the Alaska National Guard, and still searching for the country of Africa on a map. But could it be that the ramifications of Palin's 15 minutes of fame are still being felt throughout the college world?
On the campaign trail, Palin came into close contact with two college hockey programs. On September 20, University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia spoke at a rally attended by Palin, in which he openly endorsed the candidate. On October 6, she accepted a University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks hockey jersey at a rally in Omaha.
The results, much like Palin's own vice presidential candidacy, were positive at first, but quickly turned into a complete disaster.
Minnesota started out the season without taking a loss until November 22, their 12th game of the season. Since then, they are 5-9-1 on the season, and 2-6-0 in league play in the new year. To make matters worse, Lucia was was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammation in his brain. The Gophers went from playing for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, to being on the outside looking in for the tournament.
The UNO Mavericks started the season with their best start in school history. They were 9-2-1 to start the season. Since then, they are just 4-9-6, including just one win in their last 12 contests. UNO was competing for a top four spot in the CCHA tournament, and a first round bye in the CCHA tournament, to limping into home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
Palin's reach may extend even farther. What about college hockey's other Mavericks from Minnesota State? They started the year 8-3-3. Since then, 5-10-0. The teams from her home state of Alaska haven't been immune either. Alaska had just 4 losses in their first 17 games, and now 6 losses in their last 11 games. Alaska-Anchorage had 7 wins in their first 13 games, and just 3 wins in their last 13 games.
The only teams that seem to be having any real success this year are the teams from Indiana and Ohio, two states that went red in 2004, but blue in 2008. Notre Dame is the top team in the west, with an impressive 21-5-3 record. Miami of Ohio and Ohio State both look to be in position to make the NCAA tournament this year. The only Ohio school struggling this year is Bowling Green, who is in last place in the CCHA. Though Bowling Green is a mere 20 miles from the hometown of Joe the Plumber, so they're working through their own poor karma.
Perhaps this goes to show that college hockey programs should be a little more careful about who they associate with.