Gopher Football fans aren't a happy bunch. All of that hope stemming from TCF Bank Stadium and on-campus football seems lost. Well, they'll get over it if the right steps are taken to fix the program. See, the fair-weather fans were weeded out from the so-called "Gopher Nation" years ago. If the administration and the current coaches handle this transition period, the hope of the fans will soon return.
Here's a general plan to restore some confidence in the state of Gopher Football that I'd bet most fans would like to see from both the coaching staff and the administration:
The Coaching Staff
- The current coaching staff needs to state to the public that their primary responsibility is to prepare the team for next year. It is the responsible course of action, and it will look better on their resumes than trying to win at the expense of developing the program responsibly.
- Don't burn any more redshirts. That won't help anyone for 2011.
- Announce to the fans that you'll be ensuring that non-redshirt underclassmen will see more live action to ensure that they are better prepared for the future. Ask the fans to accept some mistakes from young players as part of the rebuilding process, and the response from fans may be surprising.
- Commit to shaking things up on the field. "Sticking to what works" doesn't work. At least give the fans some unique formations, trick plays, and exciting on-field action to watch.
- Convince the players to wait until they can evaluate the new coaching regime before making any decisions about transferring. It would be best for their careers to do exactly that.
- Accept that the next coach will need to be paid well. I'm no financial guru, but I'll bet that at this point expenditures for a good coach will be compensated by revenue from ticket sales, merchandise sales, boosters, and maybe even bowl game revenue.
- Encourage the next coach to evaluate the current coaches fairly. When Brewster cleaned house in 2007, complete disarray followed when quality coaches such as Gordy Shaw were released. In other words, keep Thomas Hammock on staff and give the others a fair shot at a job.
- Try to hire an exciting coach. Someone without a vanilla personality. Maybe a little bit controversial, but not in their commitment to academics. Someone with a personality that has enough horsepower to tow a large bandwagon.
- Hire a coach who will win by playing smart football. Most people would rather watch a team of good athletes outsmart and out-compete the competition than a team of blue chip recruits compensate for mistakes with raw talent. Now, smart football with blue chip recruits is the ideal but that's a Catch-22. Most top tier blue chip recruits won't join your program until you've proven you can win. So, start with smart football.
The plan to restore hope in the program isn't that difficult. If the price is right, I'm sure that the right coaching candidate is out there. And if the current coaching staff commits to building the program instead of their resumes, the transition could be smooth and their resumes could be in the best possible condition. Gopher Nation is used to disappointment, disarray, and losing. Give them something to look forward to and you'll be surprises how quickly their hope and support will return for 2011.