Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Coach's Coach

John Gutekunst in the 80's

I’m a big fan of what you might call “seasoned professionals.”

(FYI: “Seasoned” is a polite code word for “older.”)

Thus, I am over the moon about the latest addition to the Lion coaching staff: John Gutekunst. Yes, THAT John Gutekunst, who was head coach at the University of Minnesota for six-plus seasons.

Gutekunst will oversee our defensive backs, the job he held at Minnesota before he replaced Lou Holtz as head coach. Gutekunst got the job when Holtz left for Notre Dame. That was just a few weeks before the Golden Gophers were scheduled to take on Clemson in the 1985 Independence Bowl. The Gophers won, 20-13.

A year later, Gutekunst achieved his greatest feat as a head coach, a 20-17 win over the Michigan Wolverines at the Big House. Michigan was undefeated and the #2 team in the nation at the time.

One of the captains on that team was OL Norries Wilson. The connection between the two men is clear, and let’s hope it works out just as well as the partnership between Wilson and former Columbia defensive coordinator Lou Ferrari did for Wilson’s first three seasons at CU. Ferrari was also one of Wilson’s coaches back at Minnesota under Gutekunst.

Columbia has a bumper crop of talent in the secondary, and now I feel more confident that it will be managed well despite all the good players vying for playing time.

I know it’s been a long time since Gutekunst was a big time college head coach. But I think bringing him to Columbia is a big coup for our program at this time. And it clearly shows that Coach Wilson has cultivated some impressive connections and friendships during his playing and coaching career.

In an era where 32-year-old kids are getting hired to coach NFL teams and big-time BCS college programs, I am gratified that someone seems to understand the value of a person like the 66-year-old Gutekunst.

And I predict opposing passing attacks will suffer as a result!

Looking for More Dennis?

Some readers have missed all the existing installments of my long-running, (and still going!), interview with star Columbia receiver Roger Dennis ’66.

Here’s where you can find all the posts so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

A Word from the Ladies


At Sat Aug 07, 07:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are off by 10 years. The new coach is 66, not 56.

At Sun Aug 08, 12:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I'm amazed and happy that CU has brought in an assistant with such great credentials. And his age, 66. means nothing. Ask Joe Paterno. The last Lion coach I saw with similar experience was Lou Little. Has Gutekanst been coaching lately?

At Sun Aug 08, 12:33:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Gutekunst has never stopped coaching, going from team to teams for years now as he takes on new challenges. But this, I believe, will be his first work at the FCS level.

At Sun Aug 08, 04:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 65 year old, I am delighted to see that NW recognizes that age has its advantages.

At Sun Aug 08, 02:22:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of experience is invaluable to our program. Period.
Nice job NW.

At Sun Aug 08, 09:49:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see a coach with Big Ten experience. He must have witnessed Northwestern's losing streak during the 80's and saw how the program turned around. No one thinks of Northwesern's streak now that they are winning--the same will happen with Columbia when they start winning more and more.

At Mon Aug 09, 05:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about some details on the meeting with Coach Wilson?

At Mon Aug 09, 10:09:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Kevin said...

Hiring someone with Gutekunst's background could happen only with strong support AD Dianne Murphy and the football program (along with the entire athletic program) get from Low Library. At one time coaches had to find the best they could afford on a limited budget. That has changed to finding the best coach available and we'll find money in the budget to pay for it.


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