Mark Coyle stood up in front of the Twin Cities media to talk about his decision to let Tracy Claeys go as the Gopher’s head football coach. He did make it clear that this was his decision that was made and he received the support of President Kaler and the Board leadership.
First question out of the gate was asking how Coach Claeys took this decision. Coyle said that Claeys took this professionally. Claeys was disappointed but he understood, according to Coyle.
Coyle appeared to be a bit worn from this decision and he did reiterate that this was a difficult decision that he made. He did recognize that this is a decision that impacts many lives. It was asked a few times and Coyle did state that the University will honor the contracts of Coach Claeys and the staff “in full.” UPDATE: This means they will honor the full terms of the contracts, i.e. Claeys will be paid his $500,000 buyout and the assistant coaches will be paid the money remaining on their contracts for next year.
The theme of this press conference was reiterated several times by Coyle. It was that this is a world class academic institution and that there is not reason that the Gopher football team cannot compete at the highest level. This was said over and over, like a political candidate sticking to talking points.
Now he has to go and sell this institution and this football job to the next guy. When asked if he has talked to any candidates, Coyle responded with...
“I have received phone calls from people but we will move quickly to find the right person.”
Is that an indication that he has talked to others but isn’t going to go on record as such yet?
What was most interesting about this press conference was how Coyle had been evaluating the program over the previous 6 months. It was more than just this final incident and it was more than just the infamous tweet.
“This isn’t about one specific incident. The events over the past few weeks underscore some of the concerns I have with the program.”
This was coming and not to be made on emotion, which is why the decision was delayed till January 3rd. An emotional decision that was made after time passed from the bowl win. Players are upset, fans are upset, boosters are upset but Coyle urged
“I think we should all take a deep breath, including the athletic director.”
I think that’s probably the right advice for everyone except the athletic director. Time is of the essence and Coyle needs to have a new head coach in place as quickly as possible.