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New Gophers coach Fleck doesn't retain linebackers coach Sherels

Mike Sherels said Saturday morning that new Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has informed him that he won't be part of his coaching staff.

Sherels, the linebackers coach, was kept on by athletic director Mark Coyle after Tracy Claeys' firing to bridge the gap until a new coach was hired. Sherels is currently at Mayo Clinic where he had a surgery Tuesday to re-connect his stomach to the remaining part of his transverse colon.

I wrote about Sherels' life-threatening condition in September. This latest surgery hopefully will allow Sherels to be able to eat and drink again. He is expected to remain at Mayo for a few more weeks as he recovers.

Sherels remains hopeful that he will find a spot on Fleck's staff eventually. The American Football Coaches Association recommended last week to add a 10th full-time assistant coach to staffs. The current limit is nine.

The NCAA could vote on that measure this spring. If it passes, there is a chance Fleck could hire Sherels for that 10th position. Sherels has been given no indication if that's a possibility. There are indications that Coyle also could find a position for Sherels in the athletic department if coaching doesn't work out.

Sherels said he has had positive conversations with Fleck since he was hired.

"He’s been nothing but great to me," Sherels said. "I don’t have a bad word to say about him. I really don’t."

Sherels said he met with Fleck last week to discuss his thoughts on the Gophers program and share his insight as a former two-time team captain and assistant coach.

"I had a lot of thoughts about the team, the direction that it needed to go and things that needed to change," Sherels said. "And he sat down and listened to every one of them. Those to me were a lot more important than trying to get my job saved. This has been a hole for 13,14 years since I’ve been here. 'This is what’s wrong with Minnesota football right now.' I went through a long list. He sat down and listened and took notes."

Scoggins: Fleck should keep Sherels on Gophers staff

P.J. Fleck said during his introductory press conference that he hopes to complete his coaching staff in the next few days and that he will consider holdovers from Tracy Claeys’ staff.

Here is my one suggestion to Fleck: Retain linebackers coach Mike Sherels.


Sherels embodies everything about Gophers football. He loves this program, this school and this state.

Sherels’ love of coaching and his players provided him motivation as he battled a health crisis that nearly took his life this season.

He returned to coaching only a few weeks after a series of intestinal problems required four surgeries that saved his life. His story resonated with the entire state and made him a finalist for FWAA Courage Award.

“I want to go and be there for my players,” Sherels said in disclosing his health crisis with me.

This is not about sympathy though. Sherels would want no part of a pity party.

He deserves to be on Fleck’s staff on merit. 

Sherels is a respected position coach and dogged recruiter. He helped develop a nucleus of talented young linebackers that gave the Gophers defense more versatility this season. That position group should be the strength of the Gophers defense next season and beyond.

Sherels brings institutional knowledge as a former player and now assistant coach and is well-liked by state high school coaches.

As a player, he became a two-time team captain as a walk-on, the only player to receive that honor in program history. He won team awards for his courage and love of the game and for his unselfishness and concern for the university.

His presence would be invaluable to a coaching staff that is entirely new to this market, an important consideration especially within the locker room.

Remember, Sherels was the only coach who players invited into their meeting as they deliberated a bowl game boycott. That’s because they trust and respect him.

I won’t pretend to be unbiased when it comes to Mike Sherels. I’ve known him since 2003. In 22 years of covering sports, I’ve never encountered anyone that I respect or admire more than him.

He represents everything that is great about college football.

Fleck would be wise to add him to his staff.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Chicago at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Toronto FC (preseason)

    2 pm

  • Gophers men's basketball at Maryland

    7:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Purdue at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    6:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Wisconsin at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Dallas at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, ESPN, 830-AM

  • Twins at Boston (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Penn State at Gophers men's basketball

    2 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Wisconsin at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Timberwolves at Houston

    8 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at Maryland

    11 am on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Minnesota United FC vs. San Antonio

    11:30 am

  • Washington at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Miami at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Los Angeles at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Sacramento

    9:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

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