Minneapolis — Fall camp has begun at Minnesota with a rare open audition at quarterback. Half the roster is composed of redshirt or true freshmen. New schemes have been installed on both sides of the ball.
There is no team in the Big Ten undergoing more drastic change this season than the Gophers, starting with their 36-year-old whirlwind coach, P.J. Fleck.
“A lot of energy has been brought to this complex,” defensive tackle Steven Richardson said.
“With the other coaches I was very calm. I always kind of kept to myself, but it definitely brought a leadership role out of me.”
Fleck brought his unabashed optimism and bounty of buzzwords, including the trademarked “Row the Boat” slogan to preach perseverance and unity, from Western Michigan after an improbable Cotton Bowl appearance and a 13-1 record.
Fleck replaced Tracy Claeys, who was fired after a clash between the team and the administration over the process behind the bowl-game suspension of 10 players in connection with alleged sexual misconduct.
There’s hardly another coach in country more wired to handle a fresh start.
“They’re all over the place,” linebacker Blake Cashman said. “It fuels us, gets us going, and makes practice a lot of fun.”
Cashman, whose team-high 7 1/2 sacks all came over the last eight games, was put on scholarship for his junior season. He learned of the honor after a team-wide egg hunt at the facility this spring.
“It really shows where Coach Fleck’s heart’s at,” Cashman said.
Fifth-year walk-on Justin Juenemann, the third-string kicker, was rewarded in similar fashion this week through a message shot from a T-shirt gun.
The Gophers will enter 2017 with many unproven players, notably wide receivers and defensive backs. They will ride running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks as much as they can and rely on a rich collection of linebackers to steer the defense.
“We could go 12-0 or 0-12. I’m not worried about the ‘W’ or the ‘L,’ what that looks like. I’m worried about this team doing everything they can to become their best,” Fleck said.
A judge has ordered Baylor University to turn over information —including interview recordings and documents — provided to a law firm hired amid a sexual assault scandal that rocked the nation’s largest Baptist school.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin ruledmaterials must be provided to attorneys representing women suing Baylor because the university had attorney-client privilege protections when it made public a summary of the law firm’s investigation.
Chad Dunn, one attorney for the women, called the ruling a “very important step” in understanding what Baylor’s policies were.
A Baylor spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Baylor faces federal lawsuits from more than a dozen women who contend school officials ignored or suppressed assault claims and fostered a rape culture within the football program.
... Adidas and Nebraska have agreed to a new sponsorship deal that will funnel more than $128 million in cash and goods to the athletic department over the next 11 years.
The university’s Board of Regents unanimously approved the contract extension. Adidas will pay $64 million in cash and provide $64.7 million in apparel and equipment.
A 2015 agreement was to run through next June, but the new deal begins immediately. That means Adidas will pay $3.5 million in cash in 2017-18 instead of the $1 million promised under the previous agreement.
Adidas has been Nebraska’s apparel sponsor since 1995.