Winning team easily worth $1 million

Banners in the Metrodome proudly display the honorable accomplishments of the Gophers football team. They would make any University student proud — any student, that is, born during World War II. The last time Minnesota won the Big Ten was 1967. Our last National Championship was in 1960. The disparity between the long-lost era of victory and the head-hanging games of today is nothing short of an embarrassment.
The University Men’s Athletics Department now faces a crucial decision. In the wake of Coach Jim Wacker’s resignation, both Gov. Arne Carlson and University President Nils Hasselmo have proposed to pay the next coach up to $1 million. It is hoped that a top-dollar coach can restore Minnesotans’ pride in the football program, and in a sense, their pride in the University. In fact, the promise of a high salary is the best incentive to rebuild the football team and attract national attention to the University. Few coaches in the nation make seven-figure salaries — those who do run nationally ranked football programs. Considering the desperate state of our program, the University needs to put its money where its mouth is.
The University’s football woes start with recruitment. Division I prospects want to come to a school with a proud tradition, or at the very least a winning record. Coach Wacker tried to use his Texas ties to bring in a few quality recruits, but those ties didn’t last long. Last year’s recruiting class offered few outstanding players, which reflects the fact that Minnesota’s program is not on track to improvement.
But the University has tough competition when it comes to recruiting. The Big Ten was rated the toughest football conference in the nation this season, which means tough competition on the field and in recruitment. With nationally ranked programs like Northwestern and Ohio State, Minnesota is at a disadvantage in attracting top players. Unlike many schools, Minnesota suffers from limited in-state talent. The one or two top prospects from the state each year almost always leave for winning teams.
Beyond money, there’s not much Minnesota has to offer a first-rate coach. From nasty winters to an unpopular, off-campus domed stadium, Minnesota is not the most desired coaching job in the nation. But despite all the negative aspects of our football program, it has one important attraction: potential.
Resume experts say always to turn detriments into positive attributes — in looking for a new coach the U must do the same. We’re not losers, we’re just between winning seasons. A coach who can restore our winning ways has much to gain. With Big Ten name recognition, loyal fans and a respectable, if distant, history of victories, Minnesota could be the next big turnaround team. A winning coach will bring the Gophers, the University and himself to national fame.
The athletics department should spend $1 million, if it means getting the best coach. After all, the money doesn’t come from taxes or tuition. A winning team gains respect across the nation, generates money for other athletic teams and improves school pride. If the University can find a coach who will lead us to victory, perhaps we will see the day when people younger than 50 know the words to the “Minnesota Rouser.”