Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Program WIth A Black Eye Needed A New Leader

It's not every day a Governor weighs in to the goings-on of a college football program.

But there we were on December 16th, Minnesota's Governor Mark Dayton was forced to make a statement. The Gophers football team had given the state a "bad black eye."

And he was right.

So on Tuesday, Athletic Director Mark Coyle and University President Eric Kaler dismissed Head Coach Tracy Claeys.

Upset players took to Twitter and other platforms as the news of Claeys' dismissal became public. They weren't a happy bunch. The Daily Gopher has a number of reactions posted here.

It's no surprise that players are rallying around their just-fired coach. It was the Gophers players, after all, who made national news -- and not the kind a University or state wants -- during their misguided boycott over what they perceived as a lack of due process.

The players didn't have all the facts. And perhaps neither did Claeys when he Tweeted out his pride for his boycotting players. Those facts later trickled out to KSTP, and they were awful.

But there are times and places to take stands. It's understandable the teammates will be inclined to charge mountains for their brothers. But adults, and especially leaders of young men, which is what the head coach of a college football program ought to be, needs to set an example both on an off the field.

Tracy Claeys led the Gophers to a 9-4 record and an upset victory in the National Funding Holiday Bowl over Washington State. On the field, all things considered, it was a pretty good season for the maroon and gold.

Off the field, both Claeys, and the players he's charged to lead, gave the state and its flagship University one big, unexcusable self-inflicted black eye. The players can be excused for taking an ill-advised stand too far with their public-facing boycott. But Coach Claeys either acted without the facts or failed to lead his players. Neither is excusable.

And that gave Coyle no choice.

Claeys had to go.