I talked to Gordy Shaw for a column on Gophers football that will be in Thursday's Star Tribune. This one does not figure to cause apoplexy among the maroon-sweater crowd, although you can never be sure about that. That's a sensitive bunch.
Shaw has been coaching football since he was a graduate assistant at his alma mater of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 1977 and 1978. Over the next 15 years, he coached at Cal State-Northridge, back at Cal Poly, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming. He coached offensive lines and defensive lines. He coordinated the defense at Idaho in 1989.
In 1993, Jim Wacker was headed into his second year at Minnesota and hired Gordy to coach the Gophers' offensive line. Wacker was given the hook after the 1996 season and was replaced by Glen Mason. Two Wacker assistants were retained: Shaw and Kevin Sumlin, a young quarterbacks coach.
Sumlin left after one season to go to Purdue, and kept moving up, until he went from head coach at Houston to head coach at Texas A&M last season.
"We're the best of friends,'' Shaw said. "I just saw Kevin a week ago at the Texas high school coaches clinic. There are more than 10,000 coaches there, including every college coach in the state of Texas.
"Kevin was upbeat, as always, although there did seem to be a couple of gray hairs on his head.''
The touch of gray would be caused by the daily dramas with Johnny Manziel, Sumlin's Heisman-winning, hard-partying quarterback.
"Kevin will be fine,'' Shaw said. "As a coach, he's a great one. He'll handle whatever comes his way.''
I said to Shaw: "I thought Sumlin was the guy the Gophers should have pursued relentlessly after they fired Tim Brewster in 2010. I guess Kevin was too wise to come here.''
Shaw was non-commital on that, although we did agree on this: With some imagination, Gophers AD Joel Maturi could have gotten an offer to Sumlin's agent that would have been worthy of Kevin's consideration.
Sumlin wound up staying one more season (2011) at Houston, and then was hired at Texas A&M as it headed into the SEC.
Shaw also has been employed in Texas since late February. He was hired by Dennis Franchione at Texas State as the offensive line coach.
"Did you know Dennis Franchione got Jerry Kill started, as an assistant at Pittsburg [Kansas] State?'' Shaw said.
Kill was the coach that Maturi wound up with after firing Brewster with five games remainingin the 2010 season.
"It turned out well for Minnesota,'' Shaw said. "Jerry Kill is a lot like Glen Mason -- solid, very organized.''
Shaw had the stability of 14 years at Minnesota. Brewster didn't retain him, and Gordy went back to the nomadic existence of a football assistant: 2008 as offensive coordinator at South Dakota, 2009-11 at Hawaii and 2012 at Idaho. Coach Robb Akey was fired eight games into last season, so Shaw was back looking for a work this winter.
He was born in Michigan and went to college in California, but Minnesota became home during those 14 years with the Gophers. He tried to get back here by applying to be the coach at Hamline. The Pipers hired Chad Rogosheske, a Bucknell assistant and a former Hamline player, on Dec. 11.
"You're lucky you didn't get that job,'' I said. "The way the MIAC is now, Nick Saban couldn't win at Hamline.''
"I didn't believe that,'' Shaw said. "It would be tough, but I think in a few years you could compete there.''
Shaw didn't know Franchione personally. They had mutual friends who knew Texas State was looking for an offensive line coach, and who knew that Gordy was very good at it. You can also expect him to sneaking north to Minnesota in the future to get a big country boy to come down and do some blocking for the Bobcats.
"San Marcos is in the hill country between San Antonio and Austin ... beautiful area,'' Shaw said. "We have a three-year-old stadium that looks like TCF Bank, only with 15,000 fewer seats. Texas State moved up to the top division a couple of years ago. We're in the Sunbelt Conference now. And we have Dennis Franchione running the program.''
There's still this link to the Gophers for Shaw:
Jim Wacker was the coach who brought Shaw to Minnesota in 1993. Wacker had coached in San Marcos when the college was called Southwest Texas State. And, Wacker went back there as athletic director after getting fired at Minnesota.
Wacker oversaw the move from Division II to Division I athletics at Texas State. He died from cancer in 2003 and was buried in San Marcos.
"Jim's name is on the field here,'' Shaw said. "I can't wait to coach in a game on Jim Wacker Field.''