Q&A With Norwood Teague: Division Realignment Coming?
University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague recently sat down for a Q&A with KSTP. Here's a transcript:
Excluding the year that doesn't count (4-0 start in 1996-97 vacated for NCAA violations), this is the first 3-0 start for the Gophers men's basketball team in Big Ten play since 1975. This team is pretty special.
They have really impressed me. I knew we were good at the beginning of the year, but they really have shown me (more). They're tough. We have guys who want the ball. Their body language on the floor shows that they don't get rattled. Being in Champaign (Illinois), there was a big crowd getting after the team. They had a couple times where they were turning the game around, but our guys stuck in there. It was great. It's great to be 3-0 in the Big Ten.
Whether it was last year at Illinois or Michigan, or home against Michigan State, and others, this team curled up in the fetal position down the stretch. This team doesn't do that.
Something has happened to the guys and their confidence. It's neat to see. Body language is big. Look at Andre Hollins. He's getting banged all the time, but he's a stalwart. He's under control and wants the ball. He's a team leader. He can shoot. As a point guard, that's special.
Has this success helped raise a few dollars for that practice facility?
Everything helps. Raising money is always a challenge, but there's a decent amount there to do what we need to do. The key is deciding where you want to go with it. We can't just pick any piece of land. That's the process we're in -- where we'll put it. Winning cures a lot of problems. It makes people feel good.
Expounding on the special nature of this team: LSU folks were convinced they had Tubby Smith in April, but they didn't; Trevor Mbakwe gets a sixth year and is still on the team through trying times; and Rodney Williams doesn't go pro. It seems like everything has come together.
I think when you have a team that wins, whether for one year or for five years, there's a lot of things that go one behind the scenes, but then a lot of little things come together. During games, I think the same things -- some kid will make a shot and maybe he did something in the offseason to really help himself. Positive little things pile up to make big things.
Do you get the sense that Tubby Smith wants to finish his career here, or with this success, will he listen even more when the phone rings in late March/early April?
I think he's happy here. Some people say he's singing the blues when he says he doesn't have a practice facility. Does it dissuade every recruit? Probably not. But does it hurt on one who could be a program-changer? Sure, it could. He has had some frustrations and probably hasn't been as successful as he wants to be. Right now, he's winning. He seems pleased. He's a competitive guy, so he wants to have success. I think he's at peace. I can see him finishing his career here. I don't know where he and (wife) Donna are, but I think they enjoy living here. I think they like the people and their lifestyle.
A lot has to happen, but there's a chance it'll be No. 1 (Michigan) against No. 2 next Thursday at the Barn. The mere fact we're talking about that says a lot.
Oh my gosh. A lot would have to happen, but you never know. Going to IU (Indiana, on Saturday) will be brutal. When I was at VCU last year, we played them in the NCAA Tournament. They're really good. Cody Zeller amazed me seeing him up close. It'll be tough. But with this team, they don't get rattled. They will be there and mix it up. It'll be fun to watch.
Where are you at with easing the load for football coach Jerry Kill?
Jerry and I have had some incredible discussions since the season has ended about his health, workload and strategic planning for the future. He and I have a great relationship. We're really on the same page. When you have that, it bodes well for the future. Part of that, especially with the strategic planning that we'll do in the next week or 10 days, is to tell Jerry that (things) are off his plate. He's a tiger. It'll be fun to do that, because he's so willing to strategize in that way.
Can you give me an example of what will be off his plate?
Little things. Jerry likes to manage a lot of things. He has such a capable staff. I have to do a better job of getting non-coaching things away from him. That doesn't mean speaking to media or to a rotary group in St. Cloud. It's more little things that creep up in average day when he needs to be hashing it out with the offensive staff or on the phone with a recruit. He shouldn't worry about stuff that the staff can take off his plate.
Where do you stand on giving the coordinators, Tracy Claeys and Matt Limegrover, multiyear deals?
I'm fine with it. It's an industry standard. We have to do a good job of increasing our pay for the coaches. I don't want to be crazy about it. We have to be careful, but at the same time, Jerry is about $700,000 (per year) below the next-lowest paid coach in the Big Ten. Our coordinators are great coaches. We have to get a little more competitive there (with paying them). I want to be as aggressive as we can be.
Has Kill's agent called to inquire about a raise?
I have not talked to his agent since the bowl game. I talked with his agents throughout the year just to get to know them. He knows where we are. With the North Carolina thing (paying $800,000 to cancel two games) being an issue, it makes me more weary of how we spend our money. But we have to be smart and aggressive. I will never be crazy with how we spend money. But I want to build winning programs and compensate them like others are around the country. That's becoming a lot of money right now.
I forgot how much money you're still paying ex-coaches Glen Mason, Dan Monson and Tim Brewster. Can you remind us?
Jerry has a seven-year deal. That's a long time. Right now, we're paying Glen, Brewster, and Monson about $500,000 a year collectively until 2017. That comes out to about $2.5 million (total). That was the one thing with Jerry and the North Carolina buyout. We have to give him some room to build this thing. We can't afford to have somebody in a buyout situation -- someone we'd pay $800,000 a year until 2017. That was a part of the finances there. I should've said that earlier and been more upfront about it. It was one of the big things that into the equation with the North Carolina deal.
Where are we at with realigning the divisions in the Big Ten?
When I find out, I'll let you know.
Are you championing the cause?
I want it to be more regional, more east-west. I want to be in a division with Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, etc. I think we would lean in that direction going forward as a league. Stay on your toes. There will be a whole lot more as it relates to that and other conference issues in the next year.
Adding a ninth conference game in play then?
We've heard that. I could see that probably happening. I don't know. We haven't discussed it. But when you add more teams (Maryland and Rutgers), it seems logical. We'll see.