Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where I know what you’re thinking: again? Let’s get to it:
*The divide between the current Gophers coaching regime and the previous one has played out at a low simmer for the past two years since P.J. Fleck took over for Tracy Claeys (and by extension Jerry Kill).
Fleck’s style — and more so his insistence that the culture at Minnesota needed to be immediately and completely changed upon his arrival for “Year Zero” following a nine-win season under Claeys — periodically showed itself as rubbing the old guard the wrong way.
The most memorable quote before this week along those lines came from Claeys in a Patrick Reusse column a few months ago.
“We left a nine-win team. We were going to play Seth Green at quarterback in 2017, and he was going to keep getting better,” said Claeys, now the defensive coordinator at Washington State. “We would’ve won eight games last season and been better this year. Much as they want to, don’t let ’em blame too much on me.”
If that was the overlooked appetizer, the main course arrived Tuesday when Kill went scorched earth on Fleck during a radio interview — calling him out for being “about himself” and changing a lot from the days when Fleck worked under Kill at Northern Illinois.
Missing from the opening round of stories about the explosive interview was any kind of reaction from Fleck (though attempts had been made to reach him).
We still don’t have a 100 percent solid reaction from Fleck, but his wife, Heather, tweeted Wednesday morning — her first tweet in four days and second tweet this month — what sure reads like a subtle rebuttal. And P.J. Fleck retweeted it.
It’s a long poster-style affirmation of sorts that starts with “people are often unreasonable and self-centered” and ends with “it was never between you and them anyway.” In the middle, it preaches succeeding and forgiving in the face of adversity.
Just a coincidence, right?
It seems to be a deftly handled attempt to take the high road and defuse the situation — one which frankly doesn’t make anyone look particularly good (Kill for airing old grievances that have made national headlines, Fleck for what he is accused of).
In any event, one would imagine the pot would return to a simmer for a while, but who knows? Both coaches have egos big enough to fill football stadiums — they just display them in different ways.
*The Wild is STILL in the second wild card spot as of Wednesday morning, with the rest of the Western Conference stubbornly refusing to pass free-falling Minnesota even after a second consecutive 4-0 home loss.
But now there are FOUR teams just one point behind Minnesota, and in the Hockey Reference playoff probability report the Wild is all the way down to just 26 percent after being around 70 percent at the all-star break.
*The cheapest ticket for Duke vs. UNC on Wednesday in men’s basketball is more than $2,500. Or you could watch on ESPN at 8 p.m. for no extra cost other than your cable/satellite subscription.