Monday, Aug. 3, 2020


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Brian Dutcher Underpaid in San Diego

 

If offered, Bloomington native Brian Dutcher almost certainly would have accepted the University of Minnesota men’s basketball coaching job in the past. Minnesota has hired three head coaches during the 21 years that Dutcher has been in San Diego, including 18 as an assistant for the San Diego State Aztecs and the last three as head coach for the west coast power.

If the Gophers’ job were to open this month, it’s unknown whether Dutcher will be interested despite earning a reportedly modest salary of $855,424. That amount is not even the most in the Mountain West Conference and about one-third of what Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is paid.  Pitino has a seven-year 47-79 Big Ten regular season record.

Dutcher, son of former Gopher Big Ten championship coach Jim Dutcher, has his Aztecs at 28-1 this winter. The Aztecs, ranked among the nation’s elite teams, were the only undefeated major college team in late February before losing their first game.

Other schools are certain to come calling on Brian Dutcher after the season, but even if Minnesota has an opening it could well be that Gopher athletic director Mark Coyle doesn’t make him a target. Dutcher is not only an outstanding coach and recruiter but a high character individual. He also has a minimal contract buyout of a reported $950,000. However, Dutcher turns 61 years old in October, and Coyle could favor a young hire like he did when abruptly firing head football coach Tracy Claeys and replacing him with 36-year-old P.J. Fleck in 2017.

The Aztecs are expected to soon offer Dutcher a considerable salary bump, although there are budgetary restraints on a school like San Diego State that doesn’t receive rich revenues from its football program, nor its conference. He and his family have learned to love San Diego after living there for more than two decades. Whether Dutcher wants to coach five or ten more years, he might well want to stay in San Diego, even though it will never be a job that can pay like the lucrative athletic departments in the Big Ten and elsewhere.

Of course it is speculation now where Dutcher will be two months ahead, and whether the U will even have an offer for him. But a Dutcher homecoming  to Minnesota and a program where his dad once coached, surrounded by his father and two sisters who live in the Twin Cities, would be a special story line. The one certainty now is the window is closing fast on the possibility of another Dutcher ever coaching the Gophers.

Worth Noting

This Florida visitor was recently impressed with the customer service at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers where the Twins play their spring training games. Friendly and helpful workers abound from the security gates to the press box.

Twins first base coach Tommy Watkins, 39, is a lifer with the organization, having spent 22 seasons with Minnesota as a player, coach and minor league manager.

TV viewing choices Sunday afternoon include: Twins and Rays on Fox Sports North, or NFL Network coverage of defensive backs (presumably including the Gophers’ Antoine Winfield Jr.) from the NFL Scouting Combine. Draft expert Mel Kiper predicted last month the Vikings will use their first round selection at No. 25 to select Winfield.

Returning as Twins official scorers at Target Field for a sixth consecutive season will be Stew Thornley, Kyle Traynor and Gregg Wong.

The name of Babe Ruth hangs over baseball like no other legend. In 2019 his game-worn jersey from 1928-1930 sold for $5.64 million, breaking the previous record for sports memorabilia of his 1920 jersey that sold for $4.4 million in 2012, according to an email last month from sales@collectiblexchange.com.

The Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman, who turns 100 March 15, will become one of about 80,000 centenarians in the United States.

P.J. Fleck

Michigan State’s overreach this winter to hire Mel Tucker as its football coach could be leverage for more proven coaches like Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck when compensation discussions surface late next fall. Tucker, with one season of head coaching experience during which his record at Colorado was 5-7, will reportedly be paid $5.5 million and much more than predecessor Mark Dantonio, who ranks with the greatest coaches in MSU history. Fleck, who in three years has turned the Gophers into a nationally ranked program, makes $4.6 million.

The Gophers begin spring football practices this week with a session open to the public starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 8 at the Athletes Village.

Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl, who built North Dakota State into a FCS power, will be a featured speaker at the Minnesota Football Clinic March 26-28. The annual clinic, known as among the best in the nation, is a partnership between the Minnesota Football Coaches Association and the Golden Gophers. The MFCA is offering coaches a registration discount through today (March 1) via the organization’s website.

The Hobey Baker Award, started here in 1981 with organizers Chuck Bard and John Justice from the old Decathlon Club in Bloomington, is celebrating its 40th year to honor America’s best college hockey player. Fan voting is available at hobeybaker.com/vote.

The Capital Club will hear from former Minnesota North Star and now Minnesota Wild executive Mike Modano this Tuesday at 317 Washington in St. Paul—the same building that houses the corporate offices of the local NHL franchise. More information about the club is available from Patrick Klinger, patrickklinger@klingercompany.com.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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