This will be the first true football coaching hire for Eric Kaler as the University of Minnesota president, and the third for Mark Coyle as an athletic director in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
That does not mean the duo can be expected to vary from a pattern that has existed with the Gophers since Murray Warmath was nudged out after the 1971 season.
Coyle was two years into his stay at Boise State when Chris Petersen left for Washington after the 2013 regular season. He hired Bryan Harsin, then 37, from Arkansas State, where he had stayed only one season.
Harsin is 31-9 in three years in Boise, although the two Mountain West losses to Wyoming and Air Force this past season were not easy to digest for the Broncos’ spoiled fandom.
A Boise sportswriter described Harsin as more outgoing than Petersen, but in no way over the top. The closest his program has to a trademark slogan is #ATF, which stands for Attack the Future.
Harsin has been mentioned for the Gophers opening because of his connection with Coyle, but I don’t think that hashtag is enough to get him the job.
It doesn’t fit in the Gophers’ football coaching timeline over the past 45 years. It’s time to hire another salesman, and there is no young FBS coach more relentless in that department than Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck.
You have two choices when listening to young Phillip John:
You can regret not being capable of rushing into the stadium to help slay the day’s opponent, or you can rush out of the room with ears covered in horror over the slogan-filled rhetoric.
Tradition holds that Kaler and Coyle, smug enough to have fired a coach after a 9-4 season, will be wowed by the slogans and introduce Fleck before the end of the week.
When Warmath was fired, the Gophers went to Wake Forest to hire Cal Stoll, a former Minnesota player. As much as a coach was able to with the limited media of 1972, Cal was constantly telling Gophers fans of his fine young men and the golden days that lay ahead.
Stoll lasted seven seasons. Joe Salem was next, a Gophers backup quarterback from the Rose Bowl years. Smoky Joe was brought in to sell tickets, but he was more a coach, and not nearly the relentless salesman Stoll was.
Salem was fired after the 1983 season, and in came Lou Holtz. He was an exceptional coach and even greater salesman, but stayed only two seasons.
Defensive coordinator John Gutekunst was next from 1986 to 1991 — affable, but strictly a coach. And when that turned downward, the Gophers went back to a Holtz imitator when it came to lingo, Jim (Jeezo-Beezo) Wacker.
Five lousy seasons led to Glen Mason, 100 percent a coach for a decade (1997-2006). University President Robert Bruininks and athletic director Joel Maturi made the rash decision to fire Mason after a monumental bowl game loss to Texas Tech, and then Maturi came up with an all-time salesman:
Which, four seasons later, had Maturi back looking for a coach that turned out to be Jerry Kill. And when Kill retired because of epilepsy complications in midseason of 2015, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was promoted.
In many ways, Kill/Claeys is one program, and Kill certainly saw it that way when he blasted Coyle in a radio interview on 1500-AM on Wednesday. Mostly, Kill was upset at what he interpreted as Coyle saying the Gophers football program had been lacking class that went beyond the alleged sexual assault that led to the current crisis.
So there you have the 45-year timeline with Gophers football since the departure of Warmath:
Stoll (salesman), Salem (coach), Holtz (salesman), Gutekunst (coach), Wacker (salesman), Mason (coach), Brewster (salesman), Kill/Claeys (coaches).
Admittedly, Holtz was a terrific coach, and Kill had salesmanship with his country cornpone, but there is a well-established order with Gophers football coaches:
No matter the school officials involved, they always hire the opposite.
And you’re not going to find anyone more opposite to Claeys than Fleck. Phillip John is so over the top that he might leave Brewster speechless in a duel of promises.
Assuming it’s him, hopefully Fleck can coach at a Big Ten level and keep his promises, unlike Coach Brew after his slogan-filled start a decade ago.
Otherwise, Row The Boat will turn into Get A Pail.