Thursday, December 21, 2017

PJ (You're a Fine Coach)

Sung to the tune of "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass

PJ (You're a Fine Coach)

There's a coach in a Midwest town
And some fans wish that he’d calm down
Lonely tweeters with nothing good to say
Just don’t like PJ Fleck

There’s a whole group that just where frowns
And they work puttin’ PJ down
They say "PJ, just run your boat aground"
Just constant groans and whines

But others say "PJ, you're a fine coach" (you're a fine coach)
"We just loved your recruiting spree" (such a fine coach)
"Yeah this class is pretty good… make it three!"
(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Some think PJ is a little vein
But he’s just hyper, he can’t turn off his brain
They say Coach Claeys could have done the same
I just spit my water out

Fleck recruits every single day
Even when his boat is underway
And he doesn’t need a nap midday
The next class is on its way

Mark Coyle said " PJ, you're a fine coach" (you're a fine coach)
"With your tactics, I agree" (such a fine coach)
"Handing you this extension gives me glee"
(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Yeah, recruiting is just one good thing
No issues in dormatories
He’s turning boys into good young men
“Go to class, it’s mandatory”
But he won’t let them take shortcuts, and he’s got a real plan
Some fans just take longer to understand
(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

A ‘crootin’ class with no letdowns
PJ walks the streets of Dinkytown
No thoughts of a coach who’s not around
He’s forging his own way

He hopes to hear "PJ, you're a fine coach" (you're a fine coach)
"Now we want some winning sprees" (such a fine girl)
“Hope you can make the haters change their disbelief"

(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For The Folks Who Don’t Chase Recruiting News Like it’s a Drug

If you’re like me, you follow Gopher recruiting news closely enough to have a general idea of how well things are going overall. You know the names of the top recruits, but some of the other names you’ll wait until signing day to learn more about. And you don’t tweet at recruits.

But for you, the most important thing is this: will the talent level on the field be increased by this recruiting class?

MV is clearly the charts and graphs guy around here, and you should absolutely go back and read yesterday's piece: PJ Fleck's 2018 Recruiting Class is Minnesota's Best.

But today, I’d like to give you three bullet points, that you, casual Gopher fan who doesn’t tweet at recruits, can use in daily conversation to show those around you that you know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to Golden Gopher recruiting.

**Important Note: These comments are valid as of Tuesday evening, December 19, 2017. Things could still change before the ink is on the Letters of Intent, but as of now, I hold these truths to be self-evident, or sumsuch.

#1: Recruiting Absolutely Matters

In October our friend Frothy wrote a piece on this very website (which is still FREE) that “highlighted” the top 25 Gopher recruits since the beginning of the internet recruiting era. I’m not going to reinvent it here, but you should look at the list. It's an amazing read if for nothing other than the "Holy crap, I remember that name! What happened to that guy... OMG..." moments.

Last month the Ghost of MV produced some #content. As shocking as the news was that a ghost could produce material of such quality, what was not shocking was the conclusion of the article: the Gophers lose more than they win against teams who have a better base of talent.

I'll be honest, I didn't realize our dearth of talent in recruiting was so sustained. Yes, Jerry Kill and his staff did a very good job of bringing kids in and coaching them above their star ranking, but at the nd of the day, lack of talent loses.

The numbers prove that teams with better talent, from a recruiting rankings standpoint, beat the Gophers more often than not. The real upshot here is that recruiting absolutely matters, and that is why what PJ Fleck and his staff have done with this class is so important.

Increasing the level of the talent pool at Minnesota is how the Gophers are going to get better.

#2: This Class Moves the Needle

If you take another look at Frothy’s top 25 recruits in the internet recruiting era again, you’ll see that it is littered with 2008 & 2009 recruits. These happened to be Brewster’s first years of full recruiting and 14 of the players on the pre-2018 top 25 list are from those classes.

This is where I remind you that Brewster's prowess as a recruiter was absolutely never in question. Tim Brewster was, and continues to be, one of the top recruiters in the nation. This point is not up for discussion. Joel Maturi was right that Minnesota needed a coach that could increase our recruiting profile, what he forgot is that someone has to coach those kids once they are on campus.

Of the 14 players in those two classes, I’d argue that only five contributed in any meaningful way: Traye Simmons, Keanon Cooper, MarQueis Gray, Ra'Shede Hageman & Michael Carter. Carter is maybe a stretch since he only had one real season on the field, but the fact that we have to stretch to find a fifth player who contributed out of 14 recruits is telling.

This is where I remind you that Tim Brewster was not a good Head Football Coach.

If you reshuffle the deck to include the current verbal commitments to the 2018 Gopher football recruiting class, four recruits would join the top 25: Curtis Dunlap (#6), Rashod Bateman (#17), Daniel Faalele (#20), and Victor Viramontes (#23).

Adding these players to the list pushes the previous bottom four off the list, including three 2009 recruits (Kerry Lewis, Bryant Allen, Hassan Limpscomb), leaving four recruits from that class in the Top 25.

The top 3 classes, ranked by total Top 25 Gopher recruits, after reshuffling to include the 2018 class, in the internet recruiting age are:

1. 2008 - 7 recruits
2. tie: 2009 - 4 recruits
          2018 - 4 recruits

I think it's fair to say that 2008 was an outlier from a recruiting standpoint, and as we know much of that class, along with the 2009 class, didn't pan out (as you'll hear more about below) and thus didn't move the needle for the program.

We know the reason for this is because while the recruiting ability was there for Brewster and his staff, the coaching and teaching part was not.

The difference with PJ Fleck's staff is two-fold. #1: They can coach, they have a plan, and they have a path to execute that plan. #2: PJ Fleck has done this before and he's done it with greater obstacles that he has at Minnesota.

(Editor's Note: Special thanks to Mr Frothy Gopher who helped me round out this piece by writing the following...)

#3: Pump Ya Fist Today, but Watch for Attrition

Top to bottom, this is the best recruiting class in the modern era; but we could have said the same thing in 2008 and 2009. The dagger in those years was attrition. Guys either never showed up to campus or left after a year or two because they never saw the field.

I mean, Clint Brewster is in our top ten recruits ever, and the most offense he's generated is through inflating the rankings of every Michigan commitment over at 247.

It's easy to be happy about this class, but check in on who's on the roster when conference play starts next year. The prevailing trope is that Minnesota's only shot at landing high-end players is by taking dudes with marginal academics or, uh, social skills. Thus, the risk of spectacularly flaming out is pretty high.

It feels like Fleck's class is pretty solid in that regard: a lot of high-character guys who will be coaches on the field and in life. But retaining the top-end talent from the 2017 and 2018 classes will largely dictate whether #2019itty.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jerry Kill is Retiring due to Health Concerns

Jerry Kill is retiring due to health concerns. He was a head football coach during 23 football seasons.

During his coaching career, Jerry Kill was very loyal to his coaching staff. He coached five seasons at the University of Minnesota.

Jerry Kill was the coach that came after Tim Brewster. 

Kill had a record of 29-29 while at Minnesota and his teams qualified for three bowl games.
Jerry Kill originally retired due to health concerns in the midst of the 2015 football season. 

Following his retirement, Jerry Kill's Defensive Coordinator Tracey Claeys became head football coach. Claeys was then followed by PJ Fleck. 

In March of 2016 Jerry Kill said that PJ Fleck had "walked into a gold mine" by taking the Minnesota job. 

Jerry Kill unretired the following spring in May of 2016 when he accepted a position with Kansas State as Associate Athletic Director.

Seven months later, in December 2016, Jerry Kill was named the Offensive Coordinator at Rutgers, a position he has now announced he is retiring from due to health concerns.

From a personal standpoint, I wouldn't publicly say a bad word about Coach Jerry Kill, who will be missed by many. 

PJ Fleck's 2018 Recruiting Class is Minnesota's Best

I'll get to the punchline immediately: Peej's first full class at Minnesota is the Gophers' best recruiting class in the Internet era.

It goes simply beyond comparing average recruit rating or class rankings according to the recruiting sites (Brewster's 2008 class was ranked 26th with major comparative caveats*, while this class is currently ranked 28th); visualizing the distribution of Minnesota's recruiting classes over the past decade is where Fleck's efforts really stand out.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Emptying the Notebook

If you aren't listening to the Taken All Wrong Podcast, you should be. (Available at and on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.)

Last night while recording, I mentioned that I've tried several times over the last couple of weeks to write some #content for this website so that we could get our hands on somea dem sweet sweet #hitz. But due to depression over the ending of the Gopher football season (I'll leave it to you to guess the reason for the depression), I haven't been able to come up with anything that I felt was of value.

So today, I'm going to do a bit of a "notebook dump," if you will. Here now, are partial blog posts that I've tried to write over the previous couple of weeks that turned into... well, they have now turned into this blog post.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings

Well, that B1G/ACC challenge was the ass-kicking we all saw coming. Clearly, even some teams that we thought would be near the top of the conference are underperforming to this point in the season (thanks for nothing, nerds). The Gophers have acquitted themselves well - if you think the loss to Miami the other night was anything less than acceptable you can go ahead and hit the little x in the top right corner - but much of the rest of the league has not looked great. Since unpacking the State of the Conference looks pretty favorable for us to this point, and since conference play for some reason starts this weekend (for two games before taking a 3.5 week break for more cupcakes, the holiday break, and Jim Delany counting his Ea$t Coa$t Ca$h), let's do POWER RANKINGS! Note: this is a talent ranking - essentially where I expect each team to land this year, NOT what their resume has said so far.