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Minnesota Hires Mark Coyle, The Resume and How He Fits at Minnesota

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What does Mark Coyle's resume tell us about how he might do at Minnesota?

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Mark Coyle is your new Gopher Athletic Director. The announcement came unexpectedly this morning and is a name that also was seemingly out of nowhere. Lets take a look at who Mark Coyle is and what makes him a great fit to be your new Gopher Athletic Director.

The Resume

  • Syracuse AD - June 2015 - May 2016 (Syracuse profile page)
  • Boise State AD - December 2011 - June 2015 (Boise State profile page)
  • Kentucky Deputy AD
  • Kentucky Associate AD - various roles including Fundraising & Development and Dir for External Affairs and working primarily with the basketball program
  • Minnesota Associate AD for External Affairs and Dir of Marketing - 2001 - 2005 (press release from Dir of Marketing promotion)
  • HOST Communications - 1997-2001 as a VP in Collegiate Sports Division
  • University of Miami

All the Boxes Seem to be Checked

Fundraiser - While at Boise and Kentucky Coyle was known for increasing revenue streams as well as increasing fund raising. That's important here because the athletic department needs a boost in fund raising for the athletics village that is under construction. This to me is one of the biggest things about his resume.

Football Experience - While at Boise State Coyle did not lead them to the football prominence that they enjoy today. But he sustained it, particularly with the hire of current coach Bryan Harsin after Chris Peterson left for Washington. The value of a successful football program to lead the rest of the athletic department is not lost on Coyle. A former coach of a non-revenue sport who reported up to Coyle had this to say.

The football team is the aircraft carrier. The men's basketball team is the battleship. And the rest of the sports are jets and destroyers, valuable members of the armada in their own right, but ultimately dependent on the big boats for survival.

(Greg) Patton credits incoming Syracuse athletic director Mark Coyle with providing enough attention for the whole fleet to survive at Boise State.

"Football was starting to sink a little, and he had to fix that," Patton said. "Our (men's) basketball coach loves him. They've improved that program a lot. I think taking care of those two were his marching orders.

Nothing wrong with supporting the non-revenue sports but it seems clear that Coyle understands the importance of football.

Basketball - significant time at Kentucky, was part of the hiring of Calipari and worked with Calipari for 2 years before taking the Boise job. Calipari was giving Coyle a ringing endorsement when he was hired at Syracuse last year.

This article here really digs into Calipari's take on the Coyle hire last year with some really good nuggets.

Calipari said Coyle was helpful during his first few years at Kentucky, where he was a constant presence around the program. He considered Coyle a good sounding board.

When Calipari had an idea, Coyle would mull over the best possible way to implement it. When Calipari had an idea that wouldn't work, Coyle wasn't afraid to let him know.

"My biggest thing is why," Calipari said. "Why can't we do this? Why can't we do that. Mark always had a good answer. If we do this, then this is the result."

One of Us - Not exactly, but close. He is from Waterloo, Iowa and went to college at Drake where he played football. From there is has bounced around Florida, Kentucky, Idaho and New York. But most notable was his time spent at Minnesota under Joel Maturi. Coyle's stated reason for leaving Syracuse so quickly for Minnesota, which is a step up in terms of conference affiliation ($$) but lateral in terms of prestige. His wife is also from Iowa so getting closer to family and coming to a University he is familiar with certainly increases the chance that he will be here for the long-term.

Academics - He's got that covered too. While at Boise, teams collectively posted the highest GPA in school history.

Looks like a guy with tremendous experience with a successful football program, working with a blue-cup basketball program, known for fundraising and is coming here because this is where he wants to be has fallen in our laps.

But I want to know more!

Me too.

Coyle has a history of dealing with the aftermath of NCAA infractions. Minnesota isn't reeling from any major violations but there are more than enough off-the-court issues to deal with and an image to clean up. The athletic department maybe doesn't need an overhaul but it needs some TLC from the top on down. He took over at Boise after the previous AD was let go due to major violations.

Coyle took charge in the midst of the game of musical chairs, replacing former athletic director Gene Bleymiaer after an NCAA investigation involving several sports.

"He was putting out fires everywhere," Patton said. "Everyone had just started to get comfortable. The community was just starting to know him. He had a subtle influence."

Bleymaier was "an institution" at Boise State, Patton said, and one of the four most powerful men in the state after spending 30 years as an athletic director. Coyle, in his first athletic director job, faced skepticism from coaches accustomed to the rule and reputation of one man.

First Coyle listened to them. Then he worked for them. And eventually, according to Patton, he won them over.

Sounds like Coyle is the kind of AD who actually is concerned with the welfare of the student-athlete. From meeting individually with kids to handle disciplinary things or keeping guys like John Calipari focused on the fact that they are students athletes. Boise's tennis coach was interviewed previously (same link as above) and gave these insights into Coyle.

The Boise State athletic director frequently handles even minor disciplinary issues, like citations for underage possession of alcohol, by meeting with athletes himself.

"He'd meet with them, talk with them, let them know they were representing the school and the community," Patton said. "It wasn't like getting called to the principal's office. More like a counselor."

And this article talks about one of the main reasons Coyle was hired at Syracuse was because of his fit and how they felt he would connect with the Orange community.

Our friends at Nunes Magician are not too pleased he is leaving. They also recognize that this has just been a long planned and finally executed revenge move for the Texas Bowl.

Perhaps family reasons is the true motivation behind this, but I'm tempted to believe the shackles and frustrations of the job -- the same ones that seemed to drive out Doug Marrone, stop Scott Shafer from being a nice guy and many other lesser developments -- could have played a role as well. That Big Ten money never hurts, either. Minnesota played the long game on getting back at us for that Texas Bowl win...

Lastly, this is a nice background piece on Coyle when he took over at Boise.

The Take

This isn't is a good hire. It is a great hire.

As noted, the resume checks all the boxes. I don't know what more we could actually ask for. Does all this mean he is going to propel football and basketball to the national stage and we will witness Gopher athletics becoming a major force? No...it doesn't mean that. But this guy appears to be everything we currently need. He appears to have all the right experience to guide Gopher athletics in the right direction. This is a major-league hire. A guy with big-time experience as opposed to a guy who is moving up the ranks.

This isn't a traditional case where you hire a guy opposite of the guy you fired. Coyle is different than Teague and then so much more.

Going forward I wonder what this means for sitting coaches. I imagine that Tracy Claeys is safe, particularly if the team is successful this year. I think the Richard Pitino should not be comfortable, though likely has a year to prove his worth...so no real change here.

Just hours ago I was nervous about the process and leery of who was going to eventually be hired. But I say, "Hats off to you, President Kaler. Well done."