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Humor tops bill on annual Gopher Road Trip

ST. PAUL—The annual Gopher Road Trip allows the various coaches of the University of Minnesota athletic programs to travel the state and connect with fans who support their programs.

It also allows many of those coaches to flash their sense of humor. The coaches prepare speeches to deliver to the crowds at each stop, and most are littered with comedy.

Here were some of the best lines delivered Tuesday morning in Owatonna:

Football coach P.J. Fleck on winning five games last season: "I know, I know, everybody's all mad, and so was I, to be honest with you. At the end of the year I was (ticked), I was really upset. But then (men's) basketball season rolled around, and I didn't feel so bad anymore."

Men's basketball coach Richard Pitino on P.J. Fleck: "Terrific speaker. ... He's got a lot of buzzwords that you like to hear. Row The Boat is awesome, I love it. Nekton Mentality is terrific, I love that one. It's one of my favorites. But I heard one recently that I really like — Year Zero. Year Zero means that last year did not happen, so it's perfect for me. Thank you, P.J. Mark (Coyle), just remember last year did not happen for either one of us."

After breaking his leg this winter, athletic director Mark Coyle noted he received an oar, signed by the football team, from Fleck, a note from volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon and emails from wrestling coach Brandon Eggum and men's gymnastics coach Mike Burns, among others.

His first phone call was from Pitino.

"(Pitino) says, 'You did this to get the media off of you and back onto me.'"

Pitino on Lindsay Whalen taking the women's basketball job: "What's she's able to do and accomplish is amazing. But I must say, in order to do what we do, it takes a lot. And when I heard that she was going to continue to play in the WNBA, I was a little bit upset. How are you going to coach and play in the WNBA? That's hard to do.

"One of the things, when I got into coaching, is I gave up my NBA career."

Men's hockey coach Bob Motzko: "About 30 days ago, about a month now (since) I've been hired at the University of Minnesota, and it was a whirlwind experience to get the job at Minnesota, and that first week was incredible. The fanfare with the media, on all the television stations around the state, I was becoming a pretty big dude around the state. Then Mark (Coyle) hired Lindsay Whalen. I am the new hockey coach. No one has talked about it since."

Men's golf associate head coach Justin Smith on this Minnesota winter: "Certainly, it's not at the forefront of our recruiting presentations."

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