Mike the Mechanic doles out advice to University

The last time Mike the Mechanic graced the pages of The Daily was last March. That was before Jan Gangelhoff became the Twin Cities’ most famous cover girl and before the Minnesota men’s athletics department was ravaged from the fallout surrounding the investigation into alleged academic fraud in the men’s basketball program.
Lauded as the antithesis of Viagra — which solves problems by making things hard — Mike the Mechanic is famous for solving problems by making things easy. He is the man called upon to provide the ridiculously easy answers to difficult questions.
While he is rarely seen working his mechanical magic in public, he is easily contacted through correspondence, particularly e-mail.
Here’s a sample of some of the e-mails Mike has received from various desperate dignitaries at the University recently:

From: [email protected]
To: Mike the Mechanic
Subject: Replacing Mark Dienhart

So, uh … what do I do?

Dear T.Moe,

If you want to have the term “interim” removed from your men’s athletics director title, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you what not to do.
Don’t do what your predecessor Dienhart did.
Don’t hire a track coach like Phil Lundin, who has won a couple of conference titles and some coach-of-the-year awards.
Don’t hire a football coach like Glen Mason, who has taken the team to its first bowl game since 1986 and also has won some coach- of-the-year awards.
Don’t hire a cross country coach like Steve Plasencia, who has led his team to the NCAA tournament three straight years and has also garnered a coach of the year award.
Don’t hire a basketball coach like Dan Monson, who has the team off to a surprising 5-0 start and is doing his best to clean up a tarnished program.
Don’t hire a hockey coach like Don Lucia, one of the brightest hockey minds in the college ranks.
Don’t be gracious. Don’t be polite and sincere. And for God’s sake, don’t be honest. That seems to be a liability around these parts.

From: [email protected]
To: Mike the Mechanic
Subject: Carpetbagging

Dear Mike the Mechanic,

I’ve said the local media hasn’t given my team and I the same respect that we are getting nationally. The credentials speak for themselves: An 8-3 record, a No. 12 ranking and the first bowl bid since 1986.
In my recent travels (I coincidentally ran into LSU officials in Chicago and Michigan State administration in East Lansing and funny, they both had job openings) I’ve had time to round up some of the fish wrap … er, “newspapers” from around the country and it seems I may have given the Twin Cities media too much credit.
A columnist in one of the Michigan papers called me a carpetbagger. What does that mean?

Dear G.Mason,

Before I looked up the word “carpetbagger,” I wanted to see what context it was used in.
Drew Sharp, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, wrote: “How ridiculous is it that a university (Michigan State) that privately branded (former coach) Nick Saban as a money-mad disloyalist would only 48 hours later interview a candidate who’s earned his doctorate in carpetbagging.”
Judging by the sting of Sharp’s pen, I assumed carpetbagging is not a compliment for a Sun Bowl appearance. So, I put down my Motor Trend magazine and picked up Webster’s to figure out what carpetbagger meant.
The term originated during the Civil War and is “a contemptuous term” that means “to take advantage of.”
Like many folks here in Minnesota, Sharp seems to be a big fan of your coaching style from August to November. It’s that pesky month after the regular season that seems to be tarnishing your reputation.

From:[email protected]
To: Mike the Mechanic
Subject: full wallet

Dear Mike the Mechanic,

Here I sit in Kentucky with a mitt full of money, farm animals, tractors and Yvette, my honey. I tried to spread my wealth to Antoine and Russ, but Gangelhoff squealed and oh, what a fuss.
I won the Big Ten and to the Final Four we went, so what if I looked past all the rules that were bent? I saw resignations and firings and sanctions to boot, so I took off to my farm with $1.5 million in loot.
I hear Mark Yudof is coming to find out what I know, Mike the Mechanic, do you think he’ll try to recapture the dough?

Dear C.Haskins,

One thing is for sure, I hope you won’t leave your new mansion in shambles like you left the University’s men’s athletics department. Dust off the hardware in your trophy room and tidy up Alonzo Newby’s room, because I understand Yudof is planning a recon mission in your neck of the woods.
After all, he needs some extra funds to keep the football guy around here for at least another year. By the way, this new guy Monson is settling in quite comfortably. He’s won five straight games and that Gangelhoff lady is nowhere to be found.

Michael Dougherty covers men’s basketball and football and welcomes comments at [email protected].