Minnesota Football Is A Mess
[lead align=”default”]In case you hadn’t noticed, the Minnesota football program (college, not NFL) is a trainwreck. Okay, the NFL one kind of is, too, but this is about the college team.[/lead]
On Tuesday, the team fired head coach Tracy Claeys after a wild few weeks before and after the Holiday Bowl.
How Minnesota Football Got Here
Claeys was the coach since 2015, when Jerry Kill resigned because of ongoing health issues. Early in his first full season at the helm of the Golden Gophers, ten of his players were suspended because of an alleged sexual assault. Nobody was charged, but the university maintained an indefinite suspension.
The Golden Gophers went 8-4 in the regular season and qualified for the Holiday Bowl. A few weeks later, Minnesota announced the suspensions of the ten players allegedly involved. This then led to the players on the Minnesota football team announcing a boycott. Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky announced that until “due process” came into play, the team was not interested in football.
This went on for two days, during which the school met with the players. The boycott was lifted, and still, somehow, Minnesota won the Holiday Bowl.
Yesterday, Minnesota dismissed Claeys. He tweeted support for his players during the boycott, which didn’t make him many friends.
Now What For Minnesota Football?
There are clearly two sides to this story. You might be in the camp of Mark Packer of SiriusXM Radio, who said on his show Tuesday that if you read the report on the sexual assault, (paraphrased) you would understand why things happened how they did. Or, you may side with quarterback Mitch Leidner, who ripped the school administration and predicted players would bail.
When you fire a coach, have a big to-do about an alleged horrible crime, and manage to piss off everyone involved, it’s an issue. If Leidner is right and the players dislike the administration, that could undermine the credibility of the athletic director. As for the president, well, it takes a lot to oust one of them. The Jerry Sandusky scandal did it at Penn State, but this isn’t that situation.
Nevertheless, it’s a mess. No coach, angry players, an embattled administration, and a sex scandal. Minnesota football will be back, but there will be some pain first. Their top priority now should be hiring a coach who can heal the rift between players and administration. Whether or not he exists is another matter.