"The Stack" 1-4-17

By ndstacken
Jan. 04, 2017

The University of Minnesota has fired head football coach Tracy Claeys for his response to his team's boycott in December. There is a lot of dysfunction at this school.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Wednesday with a brief blog today.  We’re talking college football.  Now that we have all caught our breath from the Rose Bowl on Monday (not to be confused with who got a rose and who didn’t in the Bachelor) we’ll have some final thoughts on that and more so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Wednesday, January 4th:

 

Rose Bowl recap

 

In case you live under a rock or a pineapple under the sea, you missed one of the best bowl games ever on Monday.  Penn State and USC had an epic game, one that saw both teams come back from double-digit deficits.  Penn State trailed by 13 points multiple times and USC trailed by 14 points in the second half only to win on a Matt Boermeester.  This game opened the discussion up as to if either Penn State or USC should have been in the College Football Playoff over Ohio State, but more importantly, you saw two teams with two young quarterbacks who will certainly be in the discussion for the College Football Playoff next year.  Here is what I thought was good and bad from the Rose Bowl:

 

  • Good

    • USC’s Sam Darnold is just a freshman quarterback, but look at what poise and command he has.  Darnold took over for USC after the season started off rough for them at what 1-3?   He has looked awesome ever since he took over.

    • Penn State’s  Trace McSorely is only a sophomore, but he looks like he can do some big things over the next couple of years in college.  He has a good arm.  He can escape from pressure.  Seriously, there was some Aaron Rodgers-esque moves he made getting out of a collapsing pocket and made some big throws for first downs.  Yes, he threw three picks, but McSorely is going to lead Penn State to some big things.

    • Saquon Barkley.  The Penn State running back is very fast and shifty.  He made some great moves in this game including his 79-yard touchdown run.  What a weapon Penn State has.  You will see him on Sunday in the NFL.

    • Chris Godwin.  Penn State also has a great wide receiver in Godwin who had 187 yards and two touchdowns.  His acrobatic catch in the third quarter that went for a touchdown was unbelievable.

    • Big plays.  Penn State scored four touchdowns on four consecutive plays at one point in this game spanning the second and third quarters.  Not four consecutive drives.  Four consecutive plays.  Tremendous.

    • Atmosphere.  The atmosphere at the Rose Bowl is always great and Monday was no exception.  The fans were into it and the game was an all-time great.  Fans really got a treat watching this game.

  • Bad

    • Lack of defense.  It was the highest scoring Rose Bowl in history.  Love the fast, big plays, but at some point, defenses have to get better in college football.

    • This game was incredibly slow.  That’s what happens when you have as many touchdowns as we did in this game.  Seriously though, this game was just shy of four-and-a-half hours.  College football games are long to begin with.  Even though this game was exciting, I was starting to lose interest, because of how slow the game was moving.  There has to be something that can be done to speed up the game a little bit.

    • Keith Jackson in an icon in the broadcasting business and he called many Rose Bowls in his phenomenal career.  He coined the game the “Grand-daddy of them all.”  Seeing him though join Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler for part of the third quarter though was rough.  He doesn’t look healthy, he didn’t sound good and there were a couple of things that were incorrect and made Fowler and Herbstreit pause to figure out what Jackson was talking about.  I feel bad in saying this, but I was uncomfortable listening to him in the booth.

 

Tracy Claeys fired as Minnesota head football coach

 

It’s been a tumultuous past month for the Minnesota Golden Gophers football program.  They had ten players suspended from a Title IX investigation stemming from a September sexual assault incident, the players boycotted and threatened to miss the Holiday Bowl, head coach Tracy Claeys sent out a tweet he probably shouldn’t have in support of his players, people got mad, the administration met with the players and the boycott ended.  What was good in the last month is that the team upset Washington State 17-12 which was one of the more surprising results of the college bowl season.  We’re back to the bad, dysfunctional stuff though now as Minnesota has fired head coach Tracy Claeys for his response to his team’s boycott.  The tweet was poorly worded and had victims’ rights groups in arms because of it.  Claeys was just trying to stick up for his team, but he certainly could have handled this better.

 

At the end of the day though, the dysfunction is in the University of Minnesota administration.  They should be commended for conducting a report and taking action.  Sexual assault is a very serious deal and after everything that went down at Baylor, it is refreshing to see a school take action the way Minnesota did.  However, their communication has been awful.  I don’t know if it is completely justified for them to fire Claeys.  It’s not like he committed a crime other than hit send on a poorly worded tweet and defend his players and his team.  They want a coach, a leader who sets high expectations athletically, academically and socially.  Perhaps the administration needs to look at themselves in the mirror as well.  This feels like a toxic situation in Minnesota, specifically within the athletic department. 

 

Players are pissed.  Quarterback Mitch Leidner said he was “extremely surprised” and that he would be “shocked if any coach wants to come and work for an administration that doesn’t support their coach.”  One underclassman told ESPN he could see countless transfers from players if allowed.  The Gophers better hit a homerun on their next head coach and better support the coach, because this is not a good situation they have right on their hands right now.  Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is on the short list of candidates for the job.  Maybe Minnesota should reach out to North Dakota State’s Chris Kleinman too.  I doubt he would want to take a job that many would view as a step down versus where he is at in Fargo.  This will be interesting to see how the situation all unfolds.

 

Coming up Friday: NFL Wild card picks