Hartman: U's Anderson gets what he deserves

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2012 - 6:38 AM

The longtime baseball coach's new five-year deal rewards him for his fine work.

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Gophers baseball coach John Anderson

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After working under one-year contracts since 2010, Gophers baseball coach John Anderson has finally agreed to a five-year contract calling for $204,000 a season.

Anderson, who was being paid $162,000 in his previous one-year contracts, will be the third-highest-paid baseball coach in the Big Ten.

Anderson had the contract on his desk for some time, but according to outgoing Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, Anderson wanted a clause in his contract that in case he was fired, the university would pay his regular salary and what he normally makes from his baseball camps and other job- related income.

"All head coaches have the same contracts in that if they are discharged, they get paid only their salary," Maturi said.

But nobody has been a more loyal employee for the Gophers athletic department than Anderson, who is one of the best college baseball coaches in the country. Now he will also be able to coach in a new Siebert Field, which should be built in time for the 2013 season.

I have watched Anderson work for all of his 31 years as a head coach at Minnesota, and I don't know anyone more dedicated to his position. I don't believe any Gophers coach works harder or does a better job.

"There is no better college coach anyplace," said Maturi, who got together with Anderson late last week and worked out the details of the contract.

Yes, I can remember a scene from over 30 years ago when the legendary Dick Siebert was the Gophers baseball coach. We were chatting one day and Siebert said to me, "I don't know if he will play for us, but I've got a kid whose knowledge of the game is unbelievable."

Anderson was a pitcher when he came to the Gophers from Nashwauk-Keewatin High School, but he suffered an arm injury and instead became a student coach for Siebert. Anderson stayed on as a coach when George Thomas was hired following Siebert's death in 1978. When Thomas resigned after three years, Anderson became the youngest baseball head coach in Big Ten history at age 26 in 1981.

With baseball being a warm-weather sport and the high school and college seasons so short in Minnesota, Anderson's record is amazing. His 1,080 coaching victories are the most of any baseball coach in the history of the Big Ten. He's led the Gophers to 17 NCAA tournaments and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year six times.

Anderson also has, in my mind, the best assistant coach in the business in Rob Fornasiere, who should have had a head coaching job a long time ago. In Todd Oakes, a pitching coach with professional experience, he has another assistant who does a fantastic job. Like almost all Gophers assistant coaches, Fornasiere and Oakes work on one-year contracts.

Dozier almost ready

Brian Dozier, the 24-year-old shortstop who hit the ball well in spring training and is batting .474 for Rochester through the Red Wings' first six games, is rated highly by Twins General Manager Terry Ryan and could be one of the first call-ups from the minor leagues.

"Dozier is pretty good. He's got a lot of the attributes you're looking for at that major league shortstop position," Ryan said. "He's got instincts, he knows what he's doing, he knows how to take an at-bat, he knows how to position himself, he can run, he's got surprising strength in his swing.

"So he was a pleasant participant in spring training. We need to do a few things with him as far as having him take [it to] the next level. He gets out of the strike zone a little bit, and that's something he will correct with experience. But he is a good player and he's got good makeup and a good work ethic."

Jottings

• Maturi said the autopsy of former Gophers linebacker Gary Tinsley showed no external cause of death. "There was no sign of drugs, alcohol and no foul play," Maturi said. "There still is more study being done on his heart." All 115 players, plus all of the coaches, will fly to Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday morning for Tinsley's funeral. The Gophers will practice Friday instead of Saturday.

• The Vikings draft party, normally held at Winter Park, will be held at Mall of America Field in the Metrodome this season, starting at 4 p.m. on April 26.

• The Gophers basketball team will get a real test when it plays in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas this Nov. 22-24, with tough competition including Duke, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri and Stanford. The Gophers also are scheduled to play in the annual Maui tournament in 2013-2014 and the preseason NIT the following year. ... Colton Iverson transferred from Minnesota to Colorado State to play for Tim Miles and now Miles has left to become the Nebraska coach. Former Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy is being reported as the new head coach for Colorado State.

• Ben Utecht, the former Gophers tight end and Super Bowl champion with the Indianapolis Colts who had to retire because of lingering concussion symptoms, will make a local appearance when he sings at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis on April 23.

• Harun Abda, a junior on the Gophers track team, might be headed for big things in the 600 meters after setting the Big Ten record with a time of 1 minute, 15.86 seconds.

• Eric Musselman, son of former coach Bill, coached the Los Angeles D-fenders to the No. 1 seed for the NBA Development League playoffs.

• In the British Columbia Hockey League playoffs, St. Francis native Joey Benik, a St. Cloud State recruit, leads the league in scoring with eight goals and nine assists in 15 games for Penticton. Teammate Mario Lucia, son of Gophers hockey coach Don, is third with six goals and 10 assists in 15 games. ... Gophers recruits Mike and Ryan Reilly have one goal and six assists and two goals and three assists respectively for Penticton.

Former Gopher Jordan Schroeder is the third-leading scorer for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League with 20 goals and 23 assist in 73 games. ... Former Gopher Ryan Potulny is the third-leading scorer for Hershey in the AHL with 31 goals and 32 assists in 59 games; another former Gophers, Mike Carman, has nine goals and seven assists in 57 games for the Bears.

• Madieu Williams, the safety who got a six-year, $33 million contract from the Vikings as a free agent following the 2007 season, has signed with the Redskins.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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