Gophers AD supports Jerry Kill's decision to dump UNC from schedule
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
Minnesota Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said that after examining the situation he was on board with the decision of football coach Jerry Kill to back out of a home-and-home series with North Carolina in 2013-14 so the Gophers could play a weaker opponent.
Teague also said the decision dates to July. As a result, the university will have to pay North Carolina $800,000 to get out of those games. The Gophers were scheduled to play at North Carolina in 2013 and at TCF Bank Stadium the following year.
"I know there's been a lot of talk about it, especially the last couple of days, and first of all, I'll say the decision was not made overnight," Teague said Tuesday during an appearance on "Judd & Phunn" on 1500 ESPN. "We really made it together this summer, Jerry and I did.
"Jerry even talked to me about this right when I got the job, before I even came and moved to the Twin Cities. He had been talking about it for a year. He didn't like the game, I understood why. You could say, 'Carolina's not that good.' Well, they beat Miami last week and they beat Virginia Tech the week before.
"But I know the bigger issue is, when do we evolve into a situation where we're playing bigger opponents or larger stage opponents? I don't know. We want to get to that point and we will get to that point under Jerry. It's just a matter of judging it when we're ready. ... I know the fans want to see big-time BCS opponents come into TCF and we'll get to that point."
Kill is in his second season and the North Carolina games were scheduled before he arrived. The Gophers went 4-0 during the nonconference portion of their schedule this year but are 0-2 in the Big Ten after losses at Iowa and against Northwestern.
In Kill's first season, the Gophers finished 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
North Carolina, which is a member of the ACC, is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference after winning its past four games. The Tar Heels, however, have never been known as a football powerhouse.
"Jerry's won everywhere he's been and he has a winning formula," said Teague, who graduated from the University of North Carolina. "It's something he felt strongly about and I agreed with him after analyzing it with him. Trust me, we didn't make this overnight and it was not a response to the last couple weeks."
Asked what he saw that made him agree with Kill about backing out of the series, Teague said: "Jerry's big on gaining momentum in the program and also having the kids develop confidence. ... What if we scheduled USC next year and we had a great year, we won five games, everybody was happy but we lost to USC in double overtime by one point? We don't go to a bowl.
"Now, you go to a bowl, you can recruit that you went to a bowl, your kids go to a bowl. You build massive momentum. Granted, five years down the road you hope you're not at that point that you have to worry about that. But right now we are."
As far as making up the $800,000, Teague said he was "pretty certain" it could be done through ticket sales. That buyout figure, by the way, was built into the contract that existed between the University of Minnesota and North Carolina.
"The least we can do is make a dent in that, if not make a major dent into it," he said. "I know you're talking about quality of opponent and I'm not discounting that. But we do budget forecasts and what we think we can sell and what we think we can do there. Certainly we're not going to go out and raise money from donors to pay this off.
"For the most part this is athletic money. Our budget is $80 million and we get $1.5 (million) from the university. That's all we get, and that's supposed to be spent on upkeep of facilities. Now you can say it's a shell game, but that's not the way we look at it. We'll make it work, and we also pay it over time on a buyout like this. I've analyzed the numbers up and down, and I'm OK with where we are in making this work."
Teague and Gophers officials continue to work to find replacement games for North Carolina on the schedule.