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Minnesota 2017 Potluck Part 2: Gopher Coaches

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Lets talk about the Gopher coaching staff.

81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

PJ Fleck, the youngest head coach in the Big Ten, takes over the Golden Gophers after a 30-22 record at Western Michigan university. Upon closer look, like his predecessor Jerry Kill, he’s a program builder, albeit one not as accomplished at the lower levels of college football. Fleck only coached at WMU after stints as an a graduate assistant at OSU under Jim Tressel, and being an assistant coach at Northern Illinois, Rutgers, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fleck started off with a 1-11 record followed by two 8-5 seasons capped off with a 13-1 season for the Broncos.

Fleck brings Kirk Ciarrocca and Ed Warinner in as offensive coordinators and Robb Smith in as defensive coordinator.

How long do you will think it will take PJ Fleck to get the Golden Gophers to a bowl game? Win the Axe? Or the Jug? Will his tenure be as good as a Minnesotan’s favorite casserole HOTDISH or as bad as rancid lutefisk?

LPW: He’ll most likely need some time to clean up the mess left by Claeys, but I see his infectious enthusiasm and incessant boat-rowing combined with the new facilities and the fact he got 13 wins out of a MAC team leading to a bowl game appearance in 2-3 years. Also, he got kids to come to Kalamazoo. its gotta be easier to tell kids to bring a warm coat and come to Minneapolis.

I think he’ll have an easier time convincing Nebraska to reinstate the fan-favorite $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy than bringing the Jug and Axe to Minneapolis.

WSR: I think this year could be a bit of a mess. The schedule isn’t particularly hard, but there are enough sneaky games to cause problems for a team undergoing a whole lot of change.

And as for the Axe, let’s give him a few years and see what he can do. If the Cotton Bowl is any indication of what he can do with MAC-level talent against wisconsin, he could have a shot at chopping down goalposts sooner than later. That alone will make his tenure as good as wild rice hotdish. The one with ground beef, not chicken.

MNW: Actually, I don’t care. I thought I was going to have a long dissertation on how PJ Fleck will succeed right away at getting the Gophers to a bowl, but I just don’t care.

GoAUpher: This year could be rougher than a lot of Minnesota fans are thinking. Too many people are doing the “progress is linear at all times” thinking thing, see the Gophers won 9 games last year, and suddenly view 5 or 6 wins this season as a failure. I’m not one of those people. Fleck is installing an entirely new culture, the team has new coordinators, we don’t know who are QB is, we have no real returning production at WR, and there are depth issues at multiple positions. And Fleck is very (VERY) clear that he doesn’t sacrifice his long term program plan for short term wins. He’ll make decisions with the long term in mind even if it costs him this fall (he appears to be very much like Kill in that regard).

That said, Minnesota’s schedule isn’t that bad on paper. As a result, I think the Gophers could very easily be in a bowl this season. I don’t think it’ll be a bowl anyone will care about (hi Detroit) but it’s definitely possible IMO. I don’t worry about when the Jug comes back because that’s been too rare an occurrence to predict. As for the Axe, I predict Minnesota will win every year because FUCK WISCONSIN but a realistic look says probably not until Fleck hosts Wisconsin a second time in 2019.

I have no idea what his tenure will be like, but my gut says the most likely scenario is a Mason/Kill level “good not great” outcome. My hope would be that he’d actually be able to add in the once in a decade Big Ten Championship level team that those two never could.