Gophers old and new hope to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe in Minnesota

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Paul Bunyan's Axe has called Wisconsin home since 2003, but it will now reside in Minneapolis.

The axe received a grand welcome late Saturday night and the royal treatment at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday.

Fox 9 talked to a player who was on the 2003 team when they last won and he pointed out they didn't even have social media then. In fact, he was still using a flip phone.

The Gophers had a lot to celebrate Saturday in a celebration that lasted the four hour drive home and greeted fans back in Minnesota.

“It's about changing people's minds, perspectives and ideas of what we can become as a university, what this football program can become,” said Coach PJ Fleck at the pep rally late Saturday night.

The last time the Gophers were celebrating a win against Wisconsin was in 2003, a memory that has been replayed time and time again as fans wait for the axe to come home again.

"I remember as soon as it left my foot,” said Rhys Lloyd, a former Gopher kicker. “I didn't even need to look up, I was gone."

Lloyd kicked a 35-yard field goal to win against the Badgers fifteen years ago. He is now 36 years old, living in Florida, and long past his football career.

“I mean, I’ve got a wife, three kids, a dog, a house, bills to pay, gray hairs coming in—its all added up, fourteen years,” Lloyd said of his new life.

Needless to say, Lloyd says it's past time that the axe come home.

“I hope Wisconsin has to wait this long and then they can find out what it feels like because it sucks,” Lloyd said.

As the celebrations continue in Minnesota, the axe made its way to the next Wisconsin - Minnesota matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium as fans celebrated what they hoped was just the first of two victories over Wisconsin this weekend.

“This wasn't just for this football team, this was for every Gopher that's ever lived, who has ever played football, all the alumni. This is for them. That was a long fourteen fifteen years,” Fleck said of the win.

It's not yet determined where exactly the axe will be on display. It will be somewhere in the U of M’s new athletes village.

It's also not determined which bowl game the Gophers will play in, but coach Fleck says it's already time to get to work.