Coach Wacker to bid adieu to team, football

The final game of every football season is always an emotional day for Gophers football coach Jim Wacker. He’s had to say goodbye to thousands of seniors in his 37 years of coaching.
But this year’s final game, Saturday night against Iowa in the Metrodome, will be different. After resigning from Minnesota on Nov. 12, Wacker will also be saying goodbye to football.
“All of a sudden you’re hanging up the whistle,” Wacker said. “There’s no doubt there’s some emotion and some feelings, and that sort of thing. But you know, all good things have to come to an end some time.”
Since his resignation, Wacker said he has received several phone calls and letters of support. He even got a farewell jacket from the caterer at his final weekly media luncheon.
Wacker said he’ll miss Minnesota, but at the same time he’s looking forward to the future.
“It’s a turning point in our lives. I will spend a lot more time with my wife and my children and my grandkids — we’ve got five of those now.
“You know, these last five years have been the first time of our lives we’ve really been separated from them, because they’re down there in South Texas and we’re way up here in the north country. So we’re really looking forward to that part of it.”
Not surprisingly, however, Wacker wants the focus Saturday to be on the game and the players — not himself. If the Gophers beat Iowa, they’ll finish with their best record (5-6) in Wacker’s five years at Minnesota.
“The game is for the players a lot more than it is for the coaches,” he said. “There’s 15 seniors; it’s their last game. Those are the ones you’d love to see us get a win for.”
— Jeff Sherry