As the Gopher coaching search plods on, candidates can appear and flame out like shooting stars.
     One such cameo occurred Monday, when rumors swept the internet that Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora was visiting the Minneapolis campus to interview for the vacant Gophers job. But the 48-year-old Fedora held a press conference in Hattiesburg, Miss., just before noon, and was in his office working later in the day.
     There is no substance to the rumors, Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini insisted of his third-year coach, who went 8-4 this season and is 22-16 overall.
     "Minnesota hasn't called me to ask permission to talk to Larry, and Larry has not informed me of any contact," Giannini said. "Larry and I have an arrangement that he talks to me whenever a contact is made. None of those things have happened."
     Of course, Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi contacted San Diego State coach Brady Hoke last week without informing his counterpart at that school. But Giannini said his relationship with Fedora would prevent that from happening at USM.
     "I would prefer that a school go through the right protocol, and Minnesota has not contacted me," the athletic director said. "But we have two protocols here -- one with the coach, who has always been (honest) with me. I've spoken to him three times today on other matters, and he has not mentioned being contacted."


     The Big Ten all-conference teams will be announced tonight at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network, but don't expect much of a Gophers presence on the broadcast. Teams that go 3-9 can't expect much in the way of accolades, and besides, the media-selected team included zero Gophers on the first and second team last year, too. (The coaches made Eric Decker one of the receivers last year despite playing only half the year.) Still, the show should be worth watching for some of the more intriguing calls -- especially at quarterback and offensive player of the year, where there are about a half-dozen qualified candidates.

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