P.J.R.: We get all mushy when new coaches arrive in Minnesota
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Comments that the media and the sporting public have a negative bent in Minnesota are frequent, and yet this could not be more removed from the truth. Basically, we are over-the-top optimists in these parts, and that is at its most clear when a coaching change takes place.
Consider the last decade with coaching changes among the major sports entities in the Twin Cities.
VIKINGS: As sportswriters, talk-show commentators, bloggers and consumers of all things Purple, we have become enthralled with Mike Zimmer, even before we have heard him answer an objective question.
He's 57, and never has been a head coach, and rather than being concerned over that, we're depicting Zimmer as a hot property and not just another journeyman assistant.
And I'm as guilty as anyone on this. I talked my friend Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday morning and got an enthusiastic scouting report on Zimmer. Then, I talked to mom Ann and dad Bill Sr. from Naples, Fla., and found myself intrigued by the son of a coach/football family angle with Zimmer.
So, yeah, we're all in on Mike Zimmer, without really knowing if he's going to be the next Denny Green (very successful here), the next Brad Childress (moderately successful) or the next Les Steckel (overmatched).
Earlier in this century, we were happy to see Denny leave, after eight playoff seasons in 10 years, and thought the gruff-yet-personable Mike Tice would provide a new energy to the franchise. And then we reacted as if a veteran assistant such as Brad Childress would bring the needed discipline that was missing with Tice, and that Les Frazier would calm the chaotic waters for the Good Ship Viking as the replacement for Childress, and now we have Zimmer to bring the fire that Frazier was missing.
TIMBERWOLVES: David Kahn made us a bit nervous with his delivery and use of words such as "bifurcate,'' and yet when he brought in Kurt Rambis as his first coach in the summer of 2009, most of us greeted it as a coup.
Rambis was a guy who was an overachieving contributor with great Lakers' teams, so it was obvious that he had the fire for the task. And he spent those years sitting on the same sideline with Phil Jackson, the smartest coach in basketball, so it was obvious Rambis had the knowledge.
Or maybe not.
Two years and a 32-132 record later, we had given up on the T-Wolves completely, and then Kahn begged and owner Glen Taylor came with the cash, and our little NBA that couldn't had future Hall of Fame Rick Adelman as the coach.
Instant credibility. A definite boost for a moribund franchise.
Or maybe not.
WILD: Yeah, Jacques Lemaire was a beloved presence for the first nine years (and eight seasons) of ourreturn to the NHL, and he could come up with a defensive game plan for anyt team, but the GM had changed to Chuck Fletcher, and it was time for a fresh look ... a higher-pressure offensive style and a new voice.
Todd Richards. Local guy. Former Gopher. Let's do it. Let's absorb the energy, the high intensity, the new firepower.
Ah, I guess not.
Let's change again. Ken Hitchcock is out there, but he's another defensive coach and a veteran in the ilk of Jacques.
Let's trust Fletch here: He guarantees this younger coach who had the good playoff run in Houston, Mike Yeo, is a gem. Yeo actually will be the coach to bring the style that Richards promised and did not deliver.
Or maybe not.
GOPHERS BASKETBALL: "Tubby, Tubby, Tubby.''
How lucky could be get, to get a national title winner from Kentucky, who wanted to coach our Gophers. And have you seen that Tubby stare? Wow, these players are going to shape up or have to ship out.
And a lot of 'em shipped out, and we decided this was a rebound, retirement job for Tubby, and what we needed was a young coach with fire. Yeah, Richard Pitino, that's the ticket.
"Richie, Richie, Richie.''
GOPHERS FOOTBALL: Glen Mason was OK, but he's taken us as far as he can. Plus, that kid from Texas Tech kicked the long field goal, and then Tech won in overtime ... enough of these gawd-awful, come-from-ahead losses.
"Fire Mason! Fire Mason!''
We had to admit never having heard of new guy, this tight ends coach Tim Brewster, but it was easy to see immediately what appealed to Joel Maturi and his fellow U of M searchers. He brought incredible optimism and salesmanship ... and, man, did we need those things after Mason.
It's all about recruiting, and Brewster is going to be fast-talking, recruiting machine.
Or maybe not.
It's great to have a "real'' football coach again. The Killer and his staff can coach 'em up, make players better. The Gophers finally have a plan for success. If we can only get Kill the facilities that he needs, the 45-year slump soon will be over, and the Big Ten West is in trouble.
We know this for sure.
TWINS: They gave Ron Gardenhire a new two-year contract. We didn't like that. We wanted a change. Clearly, the Twins needed a new voice ... somebody with fresh ideas. You know, somebody like Mike Zimmer.
We all know that Gardy's worn-out. He's 56.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.