We just learned this afternoon that the University of Minnesota has made the decision to let Tracy Claeys go and bring in a new coaching staff to lead the Gophers. My initial reaction was “OK, who are the potential candidates?” But really the first question we should be asking is...”What makes this a desirable job?”
Below are just a few reasons why this opening is a good one for whomever is tabbed to lead the Gophers in 2017.
- Facilities - no longer does a coach have to promote the promise of new facilities to woo recruits. Now the facilities are brick and mortar, getting close to completion and give the Gophers a top-notch athletics facility. This is truly going to be a recruiting tool that will help convince recruits. And it is going to be one of the primary recruiting tools for convincing a new coach that this is a place he can succeed.
- Young Defensive Talent - The 2016 recruiting class brought you a number of very talented players, primarily on defense. This gives a new coach the opportunity to have a solid core on defense over the next few years, allowing him to be successful early and buying him time to establish his program. Often coaches really get about 3 years to make an impact and sustain it. Fair? Not always, but having a good base of defensive talent allows you to play with anybody in the Big Ten West and win some games.
- Big Ten West - The Big Ten is a very good and prestigious league, an obvious draw for anyone who dreams of coaching college football at the highest level. And the thing about the Minnesota job is that you don’t have to play in the East. Beating out the likes of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin is not easy, but certainly more realistic than coming out ahead of Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan State (sand 2016). So the short version is this...you are in a premier conference and you happen to be in the division that’s actually winable.
- Recent trend of success. The last four seasons have seen 8 wins, 8 wins, 6 wins and then 9 wins. Not exactly Rose Bowl caliber seasons but it’s not like you are following Tim Brewster’s 3-win season. There is some talent on the roster and there is a recent trend of success to build upon. The cupboard is not bare (see point #2).
There are challenges with this job that are significant (lack of administration support, lack of winning tradition, local media, bad recruiting base, pro-sports dominate the market, etc) but the discussion here is about what we use to sell this job. Are there challenges? Yes, there will be just about everywhere. But there are some real positives here and an opportunity for a new coach to come in and be able to win right away.