The word was out among Minnesota’s high school football coaches that Gordy Shaw was back in the Twin Cities. He took a job that he maintains as a sales rep for Gilman Gear, the original provider of equipment for football practices, and would not be coaching for the first time since 1977.
The annual clinic for high school football coaches was held in early April. During the informal portion of the proceedings, there was a discussion among the coaches on the likelihood that Shaw, 65, would stick to that.
“Dave Nelson told me there were two hats,” Shaw said. “You were supposed to put $5 in one hat if you thought Gordy was going to coach, and $5 in the other hat if you thought Gordy wasn’t going to coach.”
The coaches betting the right way would then split the money from the other hat. One problem: According to Nelson, the veteran Minnetonka head coach, there was $200 in the Gordy-will-coach hat and $5 in the he-won’t hat.
Shaw was saying this as the Maple Grove High School coaching staff assembled early on Friday morning for the first of two practices. Which meant this: The Minnesota high schools coaches invested in the Gordy-will proposition profited by 12½ cents.
Gordy and Deb Shaw’s three daughters all attended high school at Maple Grove. They owned a house in the school district near Rush Creek Golf Course.
It had been leased for a number of years, after Shaw was let go as the Gophers offensive line coach by new coach Tim Brewster in January 2007.
Shaw went from a player to a grad assistant at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 1977, and had five more jobs before reaching Division I with Paul Roach and then Joe Tiller at Wyoming from 1990 to ’92.
Then came stability: Fourteen seasons with the Gophers, starting with Jim Wacker’s second season (1993) and ending when Glen Mason was fired after the Insight Bowl loss on Dec. 29, 2006, and Brewster chose not to retain him as one of the most effective offensive line coaches in big-time college football.
He coached at South Dakota, Hawaii, Idaho, Texas State and Houston from 2008 to 2014.
Tony Levine, a former Gopher, was fired after a 7-5 season in Houston.
“I had some contact from D-I programs, but I said to Deb, ‘Let’s go back where it started, D-II, and settle down,’ ” Shaw said. “I got the job at CSU-Pueblo as OC and line coach.”
Daughter Whitney had moved to Kansas City with her husband. First came granddaughter Coco, then Gigi.
“I got home from a game and Deb was looking at her phone,” Shaw said. “I said, ‘That was a heck of a game, wasn’t it?’ She said, ‘Right’ and kept looking at her phone.
“Whitney’s husband is a big K-State guy. Deb was going through photos of the granddaughters, 4 and 2, laughing, having fun at the pregame tailgate.”
Shaw had almost lost Deb and youngest daughter Aubrey (then six months) in a horrible vehicle accident on a snowy Wyoming road in the winter of 1992. Aubrey has recovered in amazing fashion and is now in a Ph.D. program at Idaho.
And now, Deb looked up from the photos on the phone and said: “I hope coaching doesn’t cause you to miss as many of the good times with our grandkids as it did with our daughters.”
Gordy told John Wristen, his boss at CSU-Pueblo, that it was time to get away from the demands of college coaching and move back to Minnesota.
“There was sort of a welcome-back gathering in the neighborhood,” Shaw said. “My neighbor Pat Ross has been really involved in Maple Grove football, and he said, ‘Gordy, Matt Lombardi lost his offensive line coach. What do you think?’ ”
Lombardi is in his eighth season as Maple Grove head coach. Home also had beckoned his line coach, Soloni Toumablo, back to Hawaii.
“Pat Ross was my middle man with Gordy,” Lombardi said. “He told me, ‘I don’t think Gordy has closed that coaching door all the way shut.’ ”
And it wasn’t.
So, for the first time this week, Gordy Shaw — the coach of Eslinger, Setterstrom and other mobile cut-blockers on those Gophers lines — is a prep football assistant.
On Friday morning, before watching tape with his linemen of a prior practice, Shaw said in a low voice to a reporter: “The running back here, Evan Hull … I think he’s the real deal.”
As a coach who designed blocking schemes for Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney and Gary Russell, to name a few, it would be hard to question Gordy Shaw’s intuition on a real-deal running back.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org