Hudson departs Gophers for good

Defensive coordinator Greg Hudson left the team Friday, forgoing the Music City Bowl.

Dan Miller

Minnesota strong safety Justin Fraley didn’t even get to say goodbye to his defensive coordinator Friday, finding Greg Hudson’s office cleared.

Hudson left the team Friday to interview for an assistant position under long-time friend Skip Holtz at East Carolina.

“It’s something that we understand comes with this business,” Fraley said. “It’s disappointing, but it’s something he had to do.”

Hudson’s defense had improved a year ago, but saw drops in nearly every category this season as the Gophers went 3-5 in the Big Ten.

Minnesota coach Glen Mason said after the team’s first practice without Hudson on Friday that the issue was closed.

“This is old news; I’ve got to move on,” Mason said the day after Hudson left. “That issue is closed with me. It just is. I’m not going to sit here all day and discuss this. He’s gone. What can I tell you?”

Mason met with his players Friday to tell them he had not fired Hudson and that Hudson had left voluntarily.

“Hud’s a good man,” Mason said. “I like him. I’d have liked to see him stay. He thought it was in his best interest to go, so I wished him luck.”

Mason also said he hadn’t planned on firing Hudson either, even after Hudson’s defense went from fifth in the Big Ten in total defense last year to ninth this season.

“If you’re asking me if he was under the threat of getting fired, the answer’s ‘No,’ ” Mason said.

Gophers secondary coach David Lockwood will assume Hudson’s responsibilities for the Music City Bowl, and Mason said the job would be open after that.

With players surprised and Mason frustrated that the subject is still being discussed, the overall tone from the Gophers’ practice facility was matter-of-fact.

“It’s business as usual for us here, and we’ve already got our game plan going,” Minnesota defensive tackle Mark Losli said. “It should be fine. We shouldn’t miss a beat.”

Position changes

Mason announced that Gophers linebacker Terrance Campbell will be switched to strong safety for the bowl game in Nashville, Tenn.

“He runs a 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash),” Mason said of the 205-pound Campbell. “He’s been undersized.”

Campbell was the Gophers’ second-leading tackler this year.

Mason said linebackers Mike Sherels and John Shevlin will be the frontrunners to replace Campbell.

Mason said Brandon Owens has returned to defensive back, freshman defensive lineman Matt DeGeest has moved to offense and sophomore tackle Brian Moss is now at defensive end.

Eslinger awarded again

Junior center Greg Eslinger was named a Football Writers Association of America first-team All-American on Saturday.

Eslinger was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which honors the top center in the nation, and has garnered first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-America honors.