Let’s not bury the lede here today, shall we? I feel that Tracy Claeys should be relieved of duties as University of Minnesota’s head football coach.
Does that get to the point? Because we’re dealing with some rather sticky legal situations, just remember that I meant to add the word “allegedly” before nearly every sentence below. If I forgot one, just add it in your mind.
Last night it was reported that ten players were suspended indefinitely. Included in that group were next year’s presumed starting QB Seth Green, QB/WR Mark Williams, RB Kobe McCrary, and DBs Antoine Winfield Jr. and Antonio Shenault. Those are names we hadn’t seen anywhere in regards to off-field issues prior to the release. Unfortunately, also among the suspended were DBs Ray Buford, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, DL Tamarion Johnson, and RB Carlton Djam.
Why do those names jump out? Because the first four were suspended following an alleged sexual assault that took place early in the morning of September 2nd. The four were never charged, and were reinstated for the Iowa game. Then there was an alleged incident in October that led to those players, plus DB Kiondre Thomas and Djam being hit with restraining orders because she works at TCF Bank Stadium and felt uncomfortable with them in the stadium. This allegedly stems from the group confronting and taunting her. That was resolved with a settlement and everything was moving forward until the University of Minnesota’s internal investigation concluded and the suspensions came down.
Among the things reported was that multiple players had been recommended for expulsion and that one of them received an 82-page EOAA (Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) report. The EOAA ensures that the campus is a safe place for everyone and investigates all complaints about sexual assault and retaliation. One presumes that an 82-page report from them isn’t filled with platitudes and compliments, but I’ve been wrong about plenty of things this fall.
What was said by Ray Buford Sr. to the media was that all of the 10 players involved in the suspension were in the apartment on September 2nd, and that the closer you were to the girl the more harsh the punishment that was recommended.
The other thing that came out was that loquacious former Gopher WR and attorney representing everyone involved Lee Hutton III has decided that this is the greatest injustice of all time. Appeals will be filed, injunctions served, and press conferences and podcasts will be appeared at, in, and on.
So how does this fall on Claeys? First of all, the tone for the entire program is set from the top. Jerry Kill worked his ass off for every one of his guys, set the expectations, and held players responsible for their actions. Sadly, it appears that all the discipline he worked hard to instill walked out the door with him. There have been far too many situations this fall where the staff has been asleep at the desk. For example:
- On November 2nd Brian Smith, the Gophers 2nd-leading WR was kicked off the team for violation of team rules, which was allegedly being involved in a fight.
- In the Iowa game, Mitch Leidner suffered a concussion. While no one knows exactly when it occurred, there was a hit (that should have been called targeting) with 3:33 to go in the 3rd quarter and stayed down. Multiple people (players and staff) saw him down and struggling to get to his feet. He was not examined by anyone, returned and completed the game, was made unavailable after the game for the press, and then the next afternoon Claeys announced that he was in the concussion protocol.
- The aforementioned restraining order, which had no suspensions or removal from the team attached to it.
It’s amazing to me that I’m calling for the removal of a coach following an 8-4 season, but the magnitude of the incidents that have occurred this fall are not acceptable. Tracy Claeys is putting forth a Masonian effort in recruiting and a Brewsterian effort in discipline, and neither of these things are acceptable at Minnesota in 2016.