Friday, July 28, 2023

Not very bright guys and things got out of hand

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 Fleck.

I, an idiot, and most assuredly not an investigative journalist of AJ Perez’s caliber, present you with the following set of facts:

1.       [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:

2.       [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

3.       [NOVEMBER 2020]: Capitalizing on this success 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:

4.       [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

5.       [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:

6.       [JUNE 2023] Stahl appears in…Front Office Sports a week later, again on the issue of NIL licensing:

7.       [JULY 11 2023] Northwestern football hazing story comes out. Everyone rightfully up in arms over culture in college football:

8.       [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”:  


11.   [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.

12.   [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.

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