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Minnesota Football: Coaches First Seasons

Tonight P.J. Fleck becomes the youngest Gopher coach in 86 years.

John Gutekunst in 1986

Some quick facts for ya to put the PJ Fleck hire into perspective.

Fritz Crisler ended up being fired from the U, before figuring things out at Princeton and eventually settling at Michigan. The man Minnesota replaced Crisler with? A 38 year old Bernie Bierman.

The second tweet is just a fun way of demonstrating how old Sid is. In his early days he covered the Gopher football team closer than anyone else in town. Of course in those early days they were the only team in town...

Anyway, looking at first games and first seasons results for every Gopher coach since 1900 gives some interesting insights. One, unless you think P.J. Fleck is Dr. Williams or Tim Brewster, he’s probably going to be around .500. Other than a program best Dr. Williams 10 win 1900 season or Tim’s program worst 2007 season most first year coaches do just ok. The only coach to finish his first Minnesota season ranked is George Hauser in 1942. Wes Fesler was the first Gopher coach to lose his inaugural game, and Cal Stoll was the first to play an away game to kick off the season.

I didn’t bother to include Tracy Claey’s 2016 season, but it is noteworthy that he was the first Gopher to win his opener since 1986 when John Gutekunst beat Bowling Green.

Dr Henry L Williams 1900 Record 10–0–2 (3–0–1 Western)

First game September 15, 1900 vs Minneapolis Central High

Location Northrop Field • Minneapolis, MN

Result Tie 0–0

William H Spaulding 1922 Record 3–3–1 (2–3–1 Big Ten)

First game October 7, 1922 vs North Dakota

Location Northrop Field • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 22–0

Attendance 10,000

Clarence Spears 1925 Record 5–2–1 (1–1–1 Big Ten)

First game October 3, 1925 vs North Dakota

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 25–6

Attendance 20,000

Fritz Crisler 1930 Record 3–4–1 (1–3 Big Ten)

First game September 27, 1930 vs South Dakota State

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 48–0

Attendance 20,000

Bernie Bierman 1932 Record 5–3 (2–3 Big Ten)

First game October 1, 1932 vs South Dakota State

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 12–0

Attendance 20,000

George Hauser 1942 Record 5–4 (3–3 Big Ten) finished season ranked #19

First game October 1, 1942 vs South Dakota State

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 50–7

Attendance 22,000

Wes Fesler 1951 Record 2–6–1 (1–4–1 Big Ten)

First game September 29, 1951 vs No. 8 Washington

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Loss 20-25

Attendance 51,148

Murray Warmath 1954 Record 7–2 (4–2 Big Ten)

First game September 25, 1954 vs Nebraska

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 19-7

Attendance 53,027

Cal Stoll 1972 Record 4–7 (4–4 Big Ten)

First game September 16, 1972 at Indiana

Location Memorial Stadium • Bloomington, IN

Result Loss 23–27

Attendance 35,783

Joe Salem 1979 Record 4–6–1 (3–5–1 Big Ten)

First game September 8, 1979 vs Ohio

Location Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 24–10

Attendance 33,435

Lou Holtz 1984 Record 4–7 (3–6 Big Ten)

First game September 8, 1984 vs Rice

Location Metrodome • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 31–24

Attendance 50,576

John Gutekunst 1986 Record 6–6 (5–3 Big Ten)

First game September 13, 1986 vs Bowling Green

Location Metrodome • Minneapolis, MN

Result Win 31–7

Attendance 51,317

Jim Wacker 1992 Record 2–9 (2–6 Big Ten)

First game September 12, 1992 vs San Jose State

Location Metrodome • Minneapolis, MN

Result Loss 30–39

Attendance 36,912

Glen Mason 1997 Record 3–9 (1–7 Big Ten)

First game August 30, 1997 at Hawaii

Location Aloha Stadium • Honolulu, HI

Result Loss 31–32 OT

Attendance 31,510

Tim Brewster 2007 Record 1-11 (0-8 Big Ten)

First game September 1, 2007 vs Bowling Green

Location Metrodome • Minneapolis, MN

Result Loss 3–17

Attendance 49,253

Jerry Kill 2011 Record 3–9 (2–6 Big Ten)

First game September 3, 2011 at at No. 25 USC

Location Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum • Los Angeles, CA

Result Loss 3–17

Attendance 68,273