What if ... nobody knew who Jan Gangelhoff was?

  • Updated: August 16, 2011 - 2:19 AM
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Tutor Jan Gangelhoff’s admissions of academic fraud changed the course of Gophers basketball history.

Photo: Jane Hwang, Star Tribune file

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Editor's note: This is an installment in a 10-part series asking "what if?" certain major events in Twin Cities sports history had turned out differently. This is purely an exercise in amusement. Nobody at the Star Tribune -- least of all the author -- has a DeLorean that goes 88 mph and has the ability to go back to change the past. Send any feedback or suggestions to mrand@startribune.com.

What if ... nobody knew immediately what was being talked about when the name "Jan Gangelhoff" came up? That is to say, what if the Gophers' academic fraud scandal had never happened -- or at the very least, had never been discovered?

• Given the level of reverence he had at the time everything came crashing down, and even considering how many people still have a soft spot for him, Clem Haskins could very well still be coaching the Gophers (even at age 68, which he is right now). That of course means no Dan Monson Era. It also, however, means Tubby Smith never arrives here.

• If Clem would have coached at least another 6-8 years, what types of players would he have recruited and/or landed? Had he coached Rick Rickert and Joel Przybilla, for example, would they have been much different players than they were under Monson? Would Haskins, who could squeeze maximum effort out of the right team (see: 1996-97) have thrived or been exasperated as college basketball increasingly turned to an era of 1- or 2-and-done players?

• Without the distraction of the scandal -- and with all of the players who were held out of the first-round NCAA tournament game against Gonzaga in 1999 after the story broke -- we're guessing the Gophers have a very good chance to win that game. The course of Monson's career is, of course, changed. Perhaps the path of mid-majors is also changed. With Gonzaga sent packing instead of reaching the Elite 8 that year, do the Zags still pave the way for others to break through? Does Butler eventually play in back-to-back NCAA title games? Maybe not.

• Interesting side note: Does Dusty Rychart, a walk-on who had the game of his career to that point in the NCAA tourney, ever have a chance to emerge? That game -- and the team's thin roster -- helped vault him into prominence in 1999-2000, which paved the way for a long and successful career playing professionally in other countries. What is Dusty Rychart doing today if not for the scandal?

MICHAEL RAND

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