P.J. Fleck, best known for his "row the boat" mantra, was able to bring that with him to Minnesota from Western Michigan (albeit after some legal wrangling). He wanted to build on that mantra and generate some interest among the Minnesota fans by encouraging them to bring oars to the spring game to turn into, apparently, locker room "art."
Minnesota fans responded.
Its use for program "art" seems like misspent energy since there appear to be enough oars to row actual boats for every player on the roster.