It’s always greener on the other side. Remember the day the University of Minnesota hired Athletic Director Norwood Teague? Everyone was giddy and optimistic. It was easy — just hire a guy who is running away from Virginia Commonwealth.
Don’t worry about doing background checks. He talks fast and says what we want to hear. University President Kaler bought it hook, line and sinker. He lets a search committee do his job and hires Teague.
The first thing Teague does is fire men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith after six years and three NCAA appearances. For reasons I still don’t understand, many local media and fans bought into believing that Minnesota could overnight be Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, etc. All they needed was the right coach.
Richard Pitino, in year three of the Kaler-Teague experiment, now has taken the program into a gopher hole. Teague of course is long gone now and disgraced as a predator, fired last year on sexual harassment charges. Before he left, he gave Pitino a nice $7 million buyout of his current contract.
It’s amazing what can happen when you do the wrong thing for absolutely no reason at all. All hell can break loose and your athletic program starts sinking.
Three years and zero NCAA appearances with Pitino, currently players are being suspended and dropped from the program. Pitino may or may not survive 2016. His team is 8-22 and 2-16 in the Big Ten. Now with 14 teams in the Big Ten, the Gophers are 13th.
This week, the Big Ten basketball tournament is next. Unless the Gophers win the tournament, this will likely go down as the worst season in Gophers hoops history.
Tubby Smith, on Friday, April 8, will be honored at the John R. Wooden Awards with the 2016 Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Trophy. Smith won an NCAA Championship at Kentucky and while at Minnesota beat the No.1 team in the nation. He is currently the head coach at NCAA-bound Texas Tech.
Minnesota should be ashamed, and not just President Kaler — though it all starts with him — but all of the parrots on campus and around town, all those behind the scenes who fed the deception and went along with the decisions that have led to the Gophers program being in the toilet. It did not happen overnight; it took heavy doses of Minnesota Nice. Now you have a misguided program with no leadership and no one willing to accept responsibility.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.