Souhan: Recent sports hires restore credibilty in Twin Cities market

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Bad hires are history, giving way to savvy leaders who fuel optimism.

hide

Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Tom Kelly had a favorite word for the strange events that occur around the traveling carnival that is a big-league sports team: buffoonery.

As Twins manager, he might use it in reference to an umpiring call or an official scorer’s decision, or a rookie’s behavior. Sample TK quote: “That question right there, Souhan, that’s straight buffoonery.”

Over the past decade, “buffoonery” might have been the most useful word in the English language in describing the state of the Twin Cities sports scene.

When the Timberwolves hired Flip Saunders to replace David Kahn to run the team’s basketball operations, we became buffoon-free.

Consider the transformation: In 2010, Kahn ran the Wolves, along with his hand-picked coach, Kurt Rambis. Joel Maturi held the position of athletic director at the University of Minnesota and oversaw his signature hire, Tim Brewster.

Kahn fired Rambis, perhaps the only coach in Minnesota who was more passive-aggressive than his fanbase. Rambis was replaced by Rick Adelman, a coach worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

Maturi fired Brewster, whose motivational slogans still resonate in the halls of the Bierman Building, causing young athletes to passionately run through the wrong doors at the wrong time, and then undertook a nationwide search before settling on the one working coach willing to take the job, Jerry Kill.

The University of Minnesota pushed aside Maturi, replacing him with Norwood Teague.

Finally, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor fired Kahn, The Man Who Chose Jonny Flynn Instead of Steph Curry, and replaced him with Saunders.

For the first time since Maturi became the athletic director at Minnesota in 2002, our market is filled with competent people in important positions.

The Twins are run by Terry Ryan, one of the best general managers in baseball over the past dozen years, and managed by Ron Gardenhire, who, for all of the team’s losing the past two years, has taken his team to six postseason appearances (and another if you include a lost Game 163) in 11 seasons.

The Wild is run by Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo, who have much to prove but are smart people who may learn on the job.

The Wolves are run by Saunders and Adelman, and while Saunders has a limited résumé as a basketball executive, he, unlike Kahn, has a chance of picking out the basketball in a lineup of fruit-shaped objects.

The Vikings are run by Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier, whose intelligence and foresight helped them earn a surprising playoff berth last year.

The Gophers athletic department is run by Teague, who demonstrated guts and independent thinking by firing the apathetic Tubby Smith and hiring a promising young coach in Richard Pitino.

Kill is a credible coach, and Pitino has made an impressive first impression in Minnesota, refusing to duck into the turtle-shell of low expectations.

It’s foolish to waste much time dreaming of championships. With four major sports and a Big Ten university, no major Minnesota sport has won a title since the Twins in 1991. What we can demand is competence and intelligent leadership, and for the first time in a long time, competence abounds.

Saunders has already impressed. Engaging Kevin Love by sending him to represent the team in the draft is a shrewd way to mend a difficult relationship between team and star. Kahn’s departure will help that, too.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: A. Ramos 9
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: G. Balfour 4
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh 4 Top 8th Inning
St. Louis 5
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 4
Detroit 2 Bottom 2nd Inning
Cleveland 1
Seattle 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Oakland 5
San Francisco 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Colorado 2
Arizona 0 Top 3rd Inning
San Diego 0
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 0 7:45
Calgary 8
Indiana 39 2nd Qtr 0:41
Chicago 29
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close