College football is just around the corner -- we’re less than 10 weeks away from the Gophers’ season opener against New Mexico State on Aug. 30. So, with that in mind, I’ll be examining some story lines, players and trends to watch over the next few weeks. Here’s today’s installment:
How recent Gophers coaches have fared in their second year
As P.J. Fleck enters his second year as Minnesota’s coach, he’ll try to improve on his 5-7 debut. History is on his side. Over the past 40 years, Gophers coaches have improved their records, at least slightly, in their second year.
First year: 4-6-1, 3-5-1 Big Ten in 1979
Second year: 5-6, 4-5 in 1980
Second-year highlights: Three-game conference winning streak against Iowa, Indiana and Illinois.
Final record: 19-35-1 in five years
First year: 4-7, 3-6 in 1984
Second year: 6-5, 4-4 in 1985
Second-year highlights: Holtz took over after Salem’s Gophers went 1-10 in 1983 and quickly returned Minnesota to respectability. A 13-7 loss to eventual national champion Oklahoma and a 23-19 loss to Ohio State showed how competitive the Gophers were under Holtz. The 6-5 regular-season record earned a spot in the Independence Bowl – and Holtz left for Notre Dame. Interim coach John Gutekunst led the Gophers to a 20-13 victory over Clemson in the bowl game.
Final record: 10-12 in two years
First year: 6-6, 5-3 in 1986
Second year: 6-5, 3-5 in 1987
Second-year highlights: The Gophers started the season with a five-game winning streak before dropping five of their final six and missing out on a bowl game.
Final record: 29-37-2 in six-plus years
First year: 2-9, 2-6 in 1992
Second year: 4-7, 3-5 in 1993
Second-year highlights: The Gophers capped a three-game Big Ten winning streak with a 28-21 victory over eventual conference champion Wisconsin, handing the Badgers their only loss of the season.
Final record: 16-39 in five years
First year: 3-9, 1-7 in 1997
Second year: 5-6, 2-6 in 1998
Second-year highlights: The Gophers opened the season with three nonconference wins and closed it with a 49-7 rout of Iowa.
Final record: 64-57 in 10 years
First year: 1-11, 0-8 in 2007
Second year: 7-6, 3-5 in 2008
Second-year highlights: The Gophers won seven of their first eight games and reached No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 before dropping their final five games, including a 42-21 loss to Kansas in the Insight Bowl.
Final record: 15-30 in four years
First year: 3-8, 2-6 in 2011
Second year: 6-7, 2-6 in 2012
Second-year highlights: The Gophers went 4-0 in the nonconference season and returned to a bowl game, falling 34-31 to Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Final record: 29-29 in five years
First year: Claeys took over for Kill, who resigned because of healthy reasons, after seven games in the 2015 season. He went 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.
Second year: 9-4, 5-4 in 2016
Second-year highlights: The Gophers had a four-game Big Ten winning streak and a 17-12 victory over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. Claeys was fired in early January 2017 after publicly supporting players who staged a boycott in protest of the suspension of 10 players in connection with an alleged sexual assault.
Final record: 11-8 in two years