The headline story in today’s Star Tribune sports section is, “So what’s wrong with the Gophers(hockey team)?” The Star Tribune has helped hide the problem by burying the stories of the Gophers lousy performances deep in the paper. I guess they were trying to cover for the coach, Don Lucia?  The paper finally has to start telling the truth. From today’s story, there appears to be a lot of questioning about the program from supporters, season ticket holders, former players, current players, and yes, even Wally Shaver, the radio voice of Gopher hockey. What has taken so long? My guess is the glaring failures that continue with the Gopher football program has taken the heat off Lucia.

    I started seeing this slide in the 2007-2008 season. There has been a smugness around this program and coach that seemingly is baseless. There has been a complacency with the hockey team since the mid-point of ’07-’08. The coach, Lucia, has let this thing get away from him and doesn’t seem to have a clue how to fix it. He came from Colorado College, where he built an NCAA hockey elite program. But, at that time, the Minnesota job was considered the top job in the country! He took the job, believing recruiting wasn’t necessary because the high school blue chip players begged to play for Minnesota. With that being said, coaching would be less stressful because how can you not win national titles galore with the top recruiting classes every year? Thus the program has lost it’s teeth and complacency is now the norm. Lucia has grown to be a weak leader and a lousy recruiter. Yes, recruiter. Today’s article cites players on the first line of this year’s team, would be no better than third line on most WCHA teams.

   With Don Lucia at the controls this program will continue to flounder. It needs a shot of quality coaching and a renewal of  swagger that goes with a champion team. The Gophers desperately need a change.  The athletic director, Joel Maturi, can not drag his feet, this must be done, even prior to the end of this season! The high school players and blue chippers playing Juniors need to see this. This season is lost already, and without a change, next season is lost too.

   Jim Souhan, a writer for the Star Tribune, wrote a story the other day about the Coach Brewster led problems of the Gopher football program. Maturi is under the gun to make that change as well. He has a history of playing it too cautious when it comes to making coaching changes.  The Gophers have a beautiful brand new on-campus stadium. The students have already stopped showing up for games! Why can’t anybody at the “U” see this? Dump Brewster and bring in a big name coach, and yes pay for it!

   That brings us to the crux of the problem at the University of Minnesota. The administration, the faculty, and the alumni simply don’t care. I understand this is a major hurdle for Joel Maturi to get over regarding his whole department. The top revenue generator for every D-1 school is football. I don’t get why the powers that be at the “U” insist on ignoring this reality and want to believe the “U” is a major academic and research institution. The “U” is already that leading academic and research institution, so now they need to focus on athletics. Get off the high marble perch and please open your eyes and accept reality.

   I will continue to bang the drum for improved athletics, major sports, at the “U”. The school has the largest single campus student population of any school in the country. Take advantage of that resource and grow a powerhouse in football, basketball, and hockey! Thank you.

Cam Obert


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