In the locker room after the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ 38-0 season opener win over the New Mexico State Aegis, coach B.J. Flick handed play balls to Muhammad Ibrahim and the Tree Pots. Both backs rebounded from season-ending injuries a year ago to collect 221 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the inaugural season.
But defensive coordinator Joe Rossi had one ball left.
Rossi can be heard saying “Wait, coach” towards the end of a video the team shared on Twitter on Friday night. The video has been edited so we don’t get the full context of what he said next, but Rossi’s ending note definitely says, “We knew you were going to be very professional, because that’s what you are. You got the last match ball.”
I doubt anyone in the locker room would confirm this, but I’d venture to guess that Rousey was pointing at the elephant in the visitors’ locker room at Huntington Bank Stadium.
The return of former Minnesota football coach Jerry Keel to Minneapolis has been a popular topic of discussion since the moment he was hired to rebuild New Mexico’s football program in November of last year. At his introductory press conference, Kiel predicted He’ll be booed On his step at Huntington Bank Stadium – and he was not mistaken, as chorus of boos He can be heard leading his team onto the field Thursday night.
I will not reformulate it again Unfortunate series of events This led to Kell becoming persona non grata in Minnesota despite being given the football program New life In the wake of Tim Brewster’s disastrous tenure. But I will point out that Kill was his worst enemy. His comments prior to Thursday’s match are a good example of this. killing Refrain from committing to handshake Flick During an interview with KARE 11’s Randy Shaver, before telling reporters after the Aggies’ season-opening loss to Nevada he didn’t want the Minnesota game to be about him.
Flick is credited with being diplomatic in his public comments about Kill. Instead of shooting back, he reiterated how much he respected him. Flick was an assistant coach under Kiel in Northern Illinois, and he often said he learned a lot from working with him.
Before kick-off Thursday night, Flick sought to kill and shook hands, failing to betray even a hint of bad blood as the two coaches exchanged pleasantries on the field.
Flick did the same after the match and wasn’t shy about sharing what he told Kill when asked about the exchange at his post-match press conference.
“I respect Jerry Kell with all my heart,” he said. “I know you’ve done all the broadcasts and I’ve never said a single negative thing about Jerry Keel. In fact, at the opening press conference, I said I was Jerry Keel’s guy. Right? So what I said to him at the beginning was, and I don’t have to keep it between me and him because I told him ‘I said, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done in my career. I’ve always had great respect for you, I always will. Easy like that.’
To his point, Flick did not add fuel to this particular fire, which is why this was never described as a “runner”. If Flick had a problem with Kill, you’d never know from his public comments. The apparent enthusiasm with which Kiel voiced his complaints with Flick generated more headlines likely to attract clicks, but it also gave Flick the opportunity for an easy PR win – as well as a win on the field.