Since John Anderson started as Gophers baseball coach in 1981, there have been 10 athletic directors whom he has served under, not including new AD Mark Coyle.
Paul Giel was Gophers men’s AD from 1971 to 1988. He was followed by Holger Christiansen (1988-89), Rick Bay (1989-91), Dan Meinert (1991-92), McKinley Boston (1992-95), Mark Deinhart (1995-99) and Tom Moe (1999-2002), with Christiansen and Meinert holding the job on an interim basis. When the men’s and women’s athletic departments were merged, Joel Maturi was the first AD (2002-12), followed by Norwood Teague (2012-15) and interim AD Beth Goetz before Coyle.
“This is my 35th year as a head coach and I’ve been on the campus for over 40 years,” Anderson said. “This is No. 16 for me [including five women’s ADs] if you count a few interims in there. I’ve seen quite a few athletic directors, and I think I understand what has worked and hasn’t worked. I’ve seen a lot of different styles of leadership. I’ve got a pretty interesting view of leadership.”
Anderson is one of the few current Gophers coaches who got to work with Coyle in his previous role here from 2001 to 2005.
“I knew Mark when he worked here 10-11 years ago, and thought he did a very nice job in the area of responsibility he had,” Anderson said. “He looked like he had a bright future ahead of him. I haven’t had much contact with him since he left here, but sure looks like he’s put together an impressive career. We obviously can use his help here and get us back in a better direction than we have been on recently.”
Anderson said bringing in Coyle should help because he understands the university’s specific needs.
“It’s a unique place. I think you need to understand when you have a large metropolitan university with pro sports and all the different things that go on in this community and the only Division I institution in the state and how much people care about the University of Minnesota and our success athletically,” he said. “I think it’s good to have somebody that really understands our university and the state of Minnesota.
“I do think it’s a good move. I think it’s a very good move, and hopefully we can give him the support both within the university and outside to allow him to do an outstanding job.”
Coyle must have performed an outstanding job the one year he was at Syracuse, as the reports out of upstate New York indicate a high level of disappointment over the Orange athletic director’s departure to the Gophers.
Headlines on the website syracuse.com, such as: “Mark Coyle’s abrupt departure from Syracuse to Minnesota has bad whiff to it”; “Why did Mark Coyle flee Syracuse for Minnesota? Answer(s) can be found in contract”; and “Experts on Syracuse AD search after Mark Coyle’s exit: ‘It’s a very different job’ ” show that the university was shocked at Coyle’s departure.
Brent Axe of syracuse.com wrote a column about Coyle. “Once the shock and awe wears off on the hill following Mark Coyle’s cloak and dagger escape from Syracuse University, SU chancellor Kent Syverud needs to dust himself off and start the search for the next Mark Coyle to replace him.”
Axe added: “There has to be a Syracuse-version of him out there, preferably one without the unprofessional nonsense he put Syracuse through on Wednesday, but someone with his skill set and knowledge,” one that would embrace running the Orange athletic department with passion.
Meanwhile, syracuse.com columnist Bud Poliquin wrote that the contract the Gophers offered Coyle was so generous that it was a “near no-brainer” for him to leave. Coyle will earn $850,000 in base salary, up to $150,000 per year in incentives, $25,000 per year for travel, a $500,000 buyout to Syracuse, and eight season tickets to all Gophers teams that charge admission.
In looking at the two universities, it can be easy to see why the Gophers job was more desirable, besides Coyle’s connection with Minnesota.
The Gophers have 23 sports compared to Syracuse’s 18; the Gophers’ revenue is $105 million compared to Syracuse’s $87 million; and the Gophers’ record in football the past five years is 30-33 compared to Syracuse’s 27-35.
The Gophers’ Directors’ Cup standing, which measures performance in all sports, is fourth in the nation through the winter season, compared to 10th for the Orange.
Syracuse’s one big advantage over the Gophers is men’s basketball, with a Hall of Fame coach in Jim Boeheim who just appeared in his fifth Final Four. The Orange women’s team also made it to the Final Four this year, losing to UConn in the national title game.
Incidentally, Minnesota and Syracuse have met five times in football since 1995, most recently in the 2013 Texas Bowl in Houston. The Gophers lead the series 3-2.
• The Twins are 8-25 and 14 games out of first place in the American League Central. At this time last year they were 18-15 and only three games out of first. … Last year through 33 games, first baseman Joe Mauer was hitting .282 with a .345 on-base percentage, while this year he is hitting .301 and leads the American League with a .424 OBP.
• While catcher John Ryan Murphy is at Class AAA Rochester, former Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks is starting to play better for the Yankees. After hitting .087 in April, Hicks entered Thursday having hit .321 with two home runs, five RBI and six runs scored in nine games in May. He went 3-for-4 Wednesday. Hicks is hitting .216 with two homers and seven RBI overall. … Former Twins catcher Chris Herrmann, who was traded to Arizona for minor league standout Daniel Palka, entered Thursday having hit .409 in May with a double, two triples and eight RBI. Herrmann hit two home runs in the Diamondbacks’ 5-3 victory over Atlanta on Sunday. Herrmann is hitting .255 with four home runs and 14 RBI.
• Gophers men’s track and field coach Steve Plasencia talked about this weekend’s Big Ten outdoor championships. “We have the No. 1 hammer thrower in the country in Sean Donnelly, he can win,” Plasencia said. “Our high jumper Ryan Lockard goes in as the No. 1 guy in the conference. Luca Wieland has a good shot in the decathlon. We have a good shot as some individual champions.”
• Former Timberwolves star Kevin Love is sparking the Cavaliers, who are 8-0 in the playoffs. Love is averaging 18.9 points and a team-high 12.5 rebounds per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org