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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse blog: What coaches will be here when Super Bowl LII arrives? Here are percentages

The 52nd Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis. The tentative date is Feb. 4, 2018, although it could be pushed back a week, if Roger Goodell and his gang of modern-day robber barons figure out a way to add a week to the schedule and many more millions to their already obscene profit ledgers.

That subordinate clause at the end there … that’s just my view of things, of course.

I’ve been in Florida the past week and monitoring the angst of Twin Cities sports followers mostly through Twitter and comments attached to articles in the Twin Cities dailies.

There’s nothing more fun on Twitter than following my radio colleague, @1500ESPNJudd, get worked up as the Wild’s remarkable slump in this calendar year has continued.

From this distance, there seems to be many more people outraged over what’s happened with Mike Yeo’s hockey club that with the other winter sports entities.

There are also more people taking shots at Sam Mitchell’s first season coaching the Timberwolves than at Richard Pitino for his astoundingly inept third season with Gophers basketball.

The excuse is the same in both basketball arenas – “We’re young’’ – although with one team (Timberwolves) there finally are glimpses of a better future, and with the other (Gophers) there is only embarrassment.

You want to argue? The Gophers lost to both South Dakota schools in a period of 3 ½ days. End of discussion.

Wait … I guess it isn’t the end:

The only previous U of M men's basketball team to reach 0-11 in conference play was L.J. Cooke’s 1923 outfit. Those set-shooters lost the first 11 in the Big Ten, and then won the season finale against Indiana.

The Gophers have Michigan in Williams Arena on Wednesday night. The Wolverines have fallen off recently, so there’s a shot, but if the Gophers lose again, there it will be -- zero-and-12 and record-shattering ineptitude.

All of the misery back home got me to thinking (admittedly, it’s dangerous when that happens). But here’s what I was wondering on the morn of Super Bowl L.:

How many of the coaches with the seven major men’s teams in the Twin Cities still will be on the job when Super Bowl LII is played here two years from now?

These are my percentages (based on good health, of course).

Mike Zimmer, Vikings: 95 percent. He’s 59 and presumably has a few years left in him. The 5 percent chance I see of Zimmer not being on the job in February 2018 is that Teddy Bridgewater turns out to be a dud and takes the whole football operation with him.

Paul Molitor, Twins: 90 percent. He’s also 59 and presumably has a few years left in him, although 162 games of a baseball season are much more of a grind than 16 games of an NFL season. The 10 percent chance I see of Molitor not being on the job in two years is that he decides there’s more to life than baseball and steps down.

And after this pair of 59-year-olds, the percentages for coaches being here in February 2018 fall off so precipitously that – well, guess which coach I have in third place?

Richard Pitino, Gophers basketball: 40 percent. There’s enough bewilderment over this season’s futility that Dean Johnson, the chairman of the University’s Board of Regents, was willing to say last week to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he felt Pitino deserved “one more year.’’

The deal is, Pitino has lowered the bar so far, that if the Gophers go 7-11 in the Big Ten and reach the NIT next season, it will be saluted as program building – rather than woeful progress from what will then have been a fourth-year coach.

Oh, and those other job offers that Norwood Teague felt his boy Richie was receiving … don’t worry about those.

Tracy Claeys, Gophers football: 35 percent. I was all in for giving Big Country a shot, but the immediate negative impact on recruiting raises questions. The buyout is minimal and I’m guessing there will be the return of many empty seats at TCF Bank Stadium, unless the Gophers decide to paper the house with freebies.

Crowds back in the low 40s will not be tolerated, as the athletic department takes on 10s of millions of debt by building the football-centric new facilities.

Don Lucia, Gophers hockey: 25 percent. The Don is going to walk, if not after this season, after 2016-17. That’s what I heard from a couple of hockey guys and I’m going with it.

Sam Mitchell, Timberwolves: 15 percent. Sam is an acquired taste. There are indications that some of the young Woofies are having a tough time acquiring it.

Plus, I’m guessing Glen Taylor and his new partners will bring in an outside basketball guy to run the operation. And those guys always have a connection to a different coach – or, perhaps, Flip-style, want to be the coach themselves.

Mike Yeo, Wild: 10 percent. Six years. Quite a run, when considering the crises that Yeo survived. Now, if the Wild doesn’t make the playoffs, he’s gone. Or, if the Wild makes the playoffs and loses in the first round, he’s gone.

With no magic goaltender to bring in to lift the club, I’m guessing there’s a 90 percent chance that one of those two things is going to happen, and Yeo gets gassed.

The good news for Yeo is he will go promptly into the NHL’s recycled coaching bin and land elsewhere within a year.

D.J.'s trip to back fields of Twins complex might be cut short this year

FORT MYERS, FLA. – D.J. Smith’s parents bought a home in 1991 in the Brookshire development in what was then Fort Myers countryside. D.J. came from the Twin Cities for a visit and landed a job for exhibition games at the nearby, newly-opened Twins spring training park.

“Taking tickets, anything else they needed,’’ Smith said. “I did that for four years. Then, they let a lot of us go when the strike still was on in 1995.’’

Over the next 20 years, he came to Fort Myers from January into April, helping to care for his mother and spending a portion of the day hanging out at the minor league fields.

“There’s always something to see with players here, although some days it’s not much,’’ Smith said Friday. “Today, it wasn’t much. I guess it was too cold.’’

The Smith place in Brookshire was sold last summer and D. J. needed new lodging for his 2016 Florida visit.

“Finally, I found a room on Craigslist or $550 a month, in a house with three guys and a woman who was the aunt of one,’’ Smith said. “The other two guys were a couple and the first thing they did was ask me for a loan. They paid me back later by sliding $150 under my door.

“Then, they had a lovers’ quarrel and one guy said he was going home to Indiana. He was back a day later, and that’s when they asked for another loan … 80 bucks.

“It’s crazy. I might head back home before April.’’

Best event D.J. has witnessed at the minor league fields?

“Kirby Puckett was standing by a little fence over there, signing for dozens of people,’’ Smith said. “He noticed a young woman with a disability in the back, with her parents.

“Kirby called her to the front. He hugged her, took photos. She was so excited she started crying. Everyone had tears.

“I thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like to be able to make people feel that good?’ ‘’

You could try writing off the 80 bucks, D.J. That might work.


Gordy Anderson, a retired Lake Crystal cop, visits the Twins spring complex for a couple of months per year and gets autographs on keepsakes.

*Bats. “I have hundreds of autographs on game-used bats from the Twins players and minor leaguers.’’ And he had photos to prove it.

*Baseballs. “I have a signed team ball from every Twins team since they came here in 1961.’’

*Toughest autograph? “Joe Mauer. He thinks I’m in business as a collector. I’m not. It’s for me. It’s my sickness, being a Twins fan.’’

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Gophers women's basketball at Northwestern

    2 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • New Orleans at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Dallas at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Toronto at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Michigan at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Nebraska at Gophers women's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • Washington at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Ohio State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Minnesota Duluth

    7:07 pm

  • Boston at Wild

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Minnesota Duluth

    4:07 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Ohio State

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball at Iowa

    6:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

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