Gophers coach P.J. Fleck announced Monday that Conor Rhoda had won the job as the team’s starting quarterback. It was assumed that was simply because the fifth-year senior had outperformed Demry Croft in the opening two games of the season.
But on Tuesday it became clear that something else was going on when Fleck told the media that Croft will be away from the team for Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee State at TCF Bank Stadium.
“He is dealing with some personal issues that are way, way more important than football, so it’s my job as a head football coach to get him what he needs,” Fleck told reporters. “We are going to help him any way we can. I’m not going to get into that, in respect to his privacy and his personal life.”
Fleck did not go into detail about why Croft won’t be with the team, but he did say the decision to start Rhoda was made before the situation with Croft came up. Rhoda started the Gophers’ first two games, both victories, but Croft saw playing time in each.
“This is Year Zero and the culture is the first thing in everything we do,” Fleck told reporters. “If you can’t abide by the culture, then you’re not going to play, so if we have no quarterbacks by Week 5, we have no quarterbacks. I’m not going to say, ‘I’m going to play this quarterback because he’s not doing the right things, but he’s going to play,’ I’m not going to do that whatsoever.”
Seth Green is expected to be Rhoda’s backup in the Gophers’ final nonconference game.