I could beat around the bush, but I’ll tell you flat out – no. I do not trust Joel Maturi to hire the next Gopher Football coach. As much as I wanted Tim Brewster to be fired, I felt it was a double edged sword. It was clear that Brewster had no business being our football coach, but at the same time, Maturi is not the person I have faith in to make the next hire.
Let me preface this by saying I don’t think Joel Maturi is a bad person, nor do I think he has poor intentions. I think he’s a genuine guy that works hard, and tries really, really hard. He answers every email that’s sent to him, he talks to fans, he’s a friendly guy and I believe he wants to do a good job. However, wanting and doing are completely different things. He may have the desire to have a successful athletic program, but I don’t believe he has the vision or the ability to accomplish that. I will give him credit, Maturi is a good manager of an athletic program as a whole - he maintains the success and budgets of sports that other schools have been forced to cut out. He unequivocally supports the non-revenue sports in ways that many other ADs do not. He's fantastic when it comes to managing but not necessarily when it comes to long-term decisions and vision for a program.
Let’s take a look and see who his last major ffootball hire was…Tim Brewster. What Athletic Director on this planet would pass up on Bo Pelini (10-2 this year), Charlie Strong (6-6 this year, his 1st year), and even Lane Kiffin (whose 7-5 record put Brewster’s record to shame). Like these coaches or not, they are far better choices. These coaches all have their flaws, just like anyone does but they were all better options that Brewster. You look at Tim Brewster’s record, and for 17 years in coaching, he never once received a promotion to a coordinator. So, Joel Maturi took a chance on a tight ends coach. Why? Because he could talk. Maturi wanted someone that could “sell” the program, to get funding from boosters, and to fill the seats at TCF Bank Stadium. He forgot about one key component; winning fills the seats at Minnesota, plain and simple. Maturi flat out said that his neck was on the line with the hiring of Tim Brewster, yet Brewster is gone and Maturi is still here making our next hire. In every line of work, we are held accountable for our actions. If I make a mistake at work and screw something up that I promised would be done correctly - and put my name, job, and reputation on the line to make that promise, I would lose my job. Joel Maturi still has yet to accept total responsibility for the hire, and the results that followed
Now, I know what you’re all going to say – but he hired Tubby. Yes, he did. And I thank him for that. Many say Tubby fell into his lap, as he was being run out at Kentucky, and is obviously a future Hall of Fame coach. I actually began to lose respect for him before he even hired Tubby. During my time on the Barnyard Board (the student section for the men’s basketball team), I noticed a lot of areas of improvement that could be made to make the basketball program stronger, increase ticket sales, and gain more fan support. I met with Maturi along with his assistant AD’s at the time, with about 2 pages of ideas I had on how to improve things. Many of these ideas required no money and little effort, and every single idea was shot down, except for one that we were already implementing, and he responded to that idea by giving us “permission” to continue it. I had actually done a great deal of research of other Big 10 student sections, many of the ideas came from the Orange Krush of Illinois and the Izzone of Michigan State, and his response was that we are not those schools, we cannot do what they are doing. As someone who believes that we should aspire to have student sections like MSU and Illinois, I was shocked at his lack of vision and ability to take things to the next level. Then I presented ideas for Michigan and Penn State, the worst student sections in the Big 10, and was given the same response. This is just one personal example of what I fear to be a larger problem. When I look at leadership, I want them to not only want to be like the leaders in the Big 10, but to be better than them. I simply don’t see that in Joel Maturi. Keep in mind, our Barnyard board increased student ticket sales from 300 to 1700 in one year, raised nearly $10,000 for Children’s Cancer Research, and brought a new energy to the Barn – so it’s not like he was meeting with someone that hadn’t done a lot of volunteer work and hadn’t already achieved results for the program.
With all of this being said, I really, truly hope that I am wrong. I hope he wows us all with a “Kill Shot” head football coach hire that takes us to the Rose Bowl. He has set up the expectation that he is looking for a "Tubby Smith" but I really don't think there's a football coach with a National Championship, that's going to be interested in the Minnesota job. I think we need to set more realistic expectations, then fans won't be as let down when we don't hire another Tubby Smith. Those that know me know that I am not a cynical person that talks about negative things and is happy when they come true. Quite the opposite; I am a realist and look at someone’s track record as a precursor to what they will do in the future. As of now, I have not seen anything I’ve been particularly impressed with regarding Joel Maturi, but I sure hope he proves me wrong.