There was a little blurb in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune about yet another Gopher athlete in legal trouble. This is becoming such a regular bit of news here that it now only receives small back page notices. It’s like when I lived in the Washington DC area when the murder rate was off the charts and the Post would just do small posts in the back of the Metro section. It’s almost as if everybody becomes immune to it. Is that what is happening in Minnesota regarding Gopher sports?

The University of Minnesota has a recent history, since the mid-sixties possibly, of not being very supportive of its athletic programs. It is mind-blowing how the largest single college campus in the country, within a very vibrant and fast-moving urban setting and a charter member of one of the strongest conferences in the country, can not seem to put together strong athletics. By my observations, the “U” athletic department does not get support from the administration, the faculty, the alumni, or the student body. It’s as if the athletic director is constantly begging for help. Athletics, especially football, basketball, and hockey, generate millions of dollars per year in revenue. Athletics bring prestige to a university. The administration here wants the school to be better known for its academics. That is justifiable and admirable. I believe if a school is trying to attract leading teachers, scientists, and researchers, it would be easier with a successful athletic program. These people have after academic lives too! I believe they would also agree that a strong athletic department makes it easier to attract the best and brightest of high school graduates as well, witness Michigan, Stanford, Duke, etc. I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1977. I just missed the “glory years” of the Frank McGuire coached Gamecock basketball teams and the inclusion in the ACC. But the school retooled while an independent, and later joined the prestigious and powerful SEC conference. Go to http://www.gamecocksports.com to see what kind of expenditures are needed for a first class athletic program. Because of the success of the athletic programs as a support and attraction, the school’s Freshmen Honors program now enrolls the top high school scholastic achievers in the South. They are pulling kids that in the past would have gone to Duke, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, William and Mary, Virginia, or North Carolina. Success begets success!

Let’s get back to the Minnesota programs. University President Bob Bruninks has shown a strong interest in athletics, even spearheaded to drive for the new TCF Bank Stadium on campus. I think he still has a struggle with uninterested administrators and faculty. It’s time for Joel Maturi, the school’s athletic director, to start cracking down on the three largest revenue generating sports, football, basketball, and hockey. Maturi hired Tim Brewster a few years ago on the strength of Brewster’s great reputation as a strong recruiter. Statistically, Brewster’s first couple of recruiting classes did rank high nationally. We are still waiting for any results on the field. The Gopher football team was abysmal last year. They backed into a low-rent bowl game as a result of a cupcake preseason schedule. They were ranked last or near last, last season in every offensive category. When he took over the program, the school’s offensive statistics for several years were amongst the top in the country! On the surface, these results should be cause enough for close inspection by the A.D. and President, but instead they rewarded Brewster with an extension! Go figure.

The basketball program has made remarkable gains under the leadership of coach Tubby Smith. Since being here, Tubby has turned a losing program into a winner. I believe he’s done it by taking less than blue-chip players and forming them into a solid team. Things were going well until he started to move the team to the next level. The “U” basketball program was starting to get the attention from some high school blue-chippers! Unfortunately, not the right ones!

The hockey program has been in a slide for three years now. Unfortunately for Coach Don Lucia, the Gopher hockey program has by far the most rabid fans of any sport on campus. That should spell panic for Lucia. His excuse for failure don’t work with me anymore, and they certainly don’t work for the Gopher faithful. Lucia hasn’t changed his style or methods to stay competitive in a much more competitive sport. His time here should be done.

The coaches of these sports need to start cracking down on discipline. That starts with recruiting. Tubby was doing fine with the players he was molding, but the move to the next level has caused him to recruit some thugs and felons. After watching Xavier, Butler, and Northern Iowa enjoy great success in the post season, Tubby should know he doesn’t need borderline students or worse for the program. Brewster really just needs to go! His recruiting has resulted in many of the players ending up in the slammer for various thug related activities. This is a result of recruiting kids of low character, borderline students, and lack of tough discipline. Something is wrong at this school when we keep reading about student-athletes having run-ins with the law. Lucia needs to go because last year his team showed a strong lack of interest, enthusiasm, and discipline.

These coaches need to understand it’s tough enough at the University of Minnesota to get support from the administration, the faculty, the students, and the alumni without all the legal distractions caused by the thugs they recruit to school here. I believe President Bruninks needs to clean house, starting with Maturi. It’s been evident since he started here, that running athletics at a large Big 10 school is beyond his reach. He’s used poor judgement on many occasions regarding coaches and team discipline. It’s definitely time for Brewster and Lucia to go. Hockey needs an infusion of enthusiasm and intelligent recruiting, Lucia never goes for size, he only gets speedy little guys, and Brewster has been a coaching sham since the beginning. He’s in way over his head, and the frustration filters down resulting in the constant turn over of coordinators.

Anyway, that’s my take on things at the “U” with their sports programs. If other teams in the state don’t straighten out, I’ll go after them as well! Sunnyside Elementary School, you better get that sports program turned around or I’m coming after you next! Haha! Thanks for today’s read, have a great weekend, and I’ll be back next week.

Cam Obert



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