Yo. Been awhile. Let’s get weird.
So, you’re all certainly aware of the
Jason Stahl AJ
Perez piece(s) in Front Office Sports on the culture of Minnesota’s
football program under Fleck. Just to get this out of the way: I don’t want bad
shit happening in the program. Bad shit should be investigated. I don’t know
what the threshold for investigation should be; but I’ve seen nothing in Stahl’s
Perez’s reporting to suggest there’s a need for a broader, third-party investigation.
If more details come to light, then I reserve the right to change my mind.
The whole thing is just extremely odd to me. Of all the
programs to go after, why Minnesota? Fleck is an oddball, sure, but that’s not
new. He was an oddball at Western Michigan and his unconventional approach was
covered widely both nationally and locally when he was hired here. And while we’ve
been on something of an upswing for the last five years, it’s not as if we’ve
burst onto the national scene and are vying for national championships. We’re a
slightly-above-average Power-5 program looking for a special season every few
years. Much better than where we were 15 years ago, but not exactly the status
that brings investigative journalists based in northern Virginia sniffing
around to figure out how we achieved so much so fast.
The other odd element here is that a few Nebraska fans were,
apparently, aware of this story before it was published. Now, yeah, it’s
possible some Nubbers are super well connected to Perez and he was leaking some
of the details; but we’re not talking about those sorts of Husker fans. The
ones that knew are the type that live in the dank, sweaty, scrotal folds of the
internet and have no room for independent thought in what can generously be
referred to as their minds: PJ Fleck is a greedy slumlord in the blighted
neighborhood that is Nebraska brains.
We had some laughs wondering whether the piece was, perhaps,
funded by some wealthy Husker boosters to potentially get Fleck fired prior to
the season opener, thus destabilizing the program enough to give Matt Ruhle a
win in his first conference game, setting off a giant Will Compton bukkake.
But, sadly, I don’t think that’s the case. Guess we’ll have to take comfort in
whipping that ass on the field again this season.
No, I think Perez got sold some vaporware from our old
friend Jason Stahl, ran with it, is now stuck reporting on a turd, and is balls
deep confirmation bias such that he doesn’t know up from down. The Nubbers are
only relevant insofar as they’ve had a chub for Stahl ever since his attempted
takedown of Fleck a few years back. Safe to assume some of them have kept in
touch in the - again, weirdly-obsessive – hope for another shot at deposing
I, an idiot, and most assuredly not an investigative
journalist of AJ Perez’s caliber, present you with the following set of facts:
[OCTOBER 2020]: Stahl is a former adjunct
professor at the U. He claims he was fired for reporting on an abusive culture
at the U: https://twitter.com/JasonStahl__/status/1316493260362313729
[OCTOBER 2020]: He wrote a big thing on it, WCCO
covered it for reasons, it got play for a few days, Badger and Husker fans heavily
petted themselves to it, still probably do, there was nothing to it, the story
died: link to his Substack is in the Twitter link above. I’m not giving him
hits, but you’re welcome to find it on your own
[NOVEMBER 2020]: Capitalizing on this
event, he founded the College Football Players Association (CFPA), an org
built ostensibly to be a union for college football players akin to the NFLPA: https://www.cfbpa.org/about
[NOVEMBER 2020]: Former University of Minnesota
Regent, noted Fleck/U admin antagonist, and self-described thought leader, Michael
Hsu, joins the CFPA advisory board:
SEASONS CHANGE. TIME PASSES BY. There were probably relevant things that happened here, but your boy is lay-zee
[JUNE 2023]: Stahl appears in…Front Office
Sports representing the CFPA on issues related to player licensing for the
upcoming reboot of EA’s college football game: https://frontofficesports.com/ea-college-football-and-the-problem-with-group-licensing-in-college-athletics/
[JUNE 2023] Stahl appears in…Front Office
Sports a week later, again on the issue of NIL licensing: https://frontofficesports.com/brandr-group-raises-concerns-with-ea-college-football-nil-deal/
[JULY 11 2023] Northwestern football hazing story
comes out. Everyone rightfully up in arms over culture in college football: https://www.sportico.com/leagues/college-sports/2023/northwestern-football-hazing-pat-fitzgerald-timeline-1234730288/
[JULY 11-14] Kuru-infected Husker fans start
teasing Fleck’s impending death: sample screenshots above, there were more
9. [JULY 12 2023] AJ Perez, from…Front Office Sports contacts an anon Gopher fan he’d seen on Twitter and Rivals looking for context and recommendations on which player to talk to. Gopher anon tells Perez to talk to Coney Durr:
10. [JULY 12 2023] Perez allegedly informs Gopher anon that he was investigating Dan Snyder of Washington Commanders ignominy, when “someone put him on to the Fleck thing”:
[JULY 27 2023] Front Office Sports runs
the piece. Coney Durr and Hsu are quoted extensively. Badger and Husker fans
give each other rub and tugs. Everyone with three operating brain cells ridicules
it as an amateur hit job: not linking it. Find it yourself if you must.
[JULY 28 2023] Front Office Sports runs a
follow up piece with no new information. Conflates the death of a player at
Maryland with what Fleck is doing at Minnesota. Provides zero foundation for
this comparison: not linking it. Find it yourself if you must
And here we are today.
So, the narrative I see here is as follows: Stahl was a
source on NIL stuff for Front Office Sports in June and sold them on the
idea that Fleck is an evil dude who should be taken down. To juice it up, he
offered Hsu, a former Regent, who would go on the record with his concerns of
the program. Seems intriguing and worth looking into, right?
Perez talks to a former player or two that Stahl buddied up
with that corroborated Stahl’s version of reality. Talks to Hsu who does the
same and then, bang, Northwestern implodes, Fitz gets fired and all of a sudden
we have a #MeToo moment in college football. Perez realizes he has to strike
while the iron is hot, but only has one side of the story. So what does he do?
Pings a random Gopher fan from the message boards, of course! Stahl, bursting
with excitement at the idea of downing his nemesis, shares what’s happening with
a few of his Nubber Twitter buds.
There isn’t a full story there, but the #MeToo moment is
passing and the story has to run. So we got what we got yesterday and today: A
barely-newsworthy re-hash of old news, sprinkled in with some quotes from a
known-crackpot former Regent. It’s extremely noteworthy that Stahl was not
mentioned in the piece, despite being a source for other Front Office Sports
stories. Guy really had nothing to say about this? Or are we keeping him behind
the curtain because he’s already tried and failed once to take Fleck down and using
him here would damage the credibility of the piece?
Anyway, I’m going to return to the sea for another 10,000 years. Go Gophs. RTB.