At Wednesday's media day, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia spoke to reporters (one being the author) on many subjects, including a reaction to today's article in City Pages titled "What happened to the University of Minnesota program?" and focuses on the coach. Given the response and chance to defend, I felt it would be better to not write an article on the subject and instead let Lucia's words stand alone.
His answers are long despite claiming not to have read the article.
The following is a transcription of Lucia's unedited response.
Reporter (Jess Myers, 1500 ESPN): Don, there was an article that was critical of your program that came out in City Pages today. I'm wondering if you have seen it and any reaction to it?
Lucia: I've not seen it. I had somebody call me on it.
You know what? People can go after me. That's part of the deal. I understand, but I haven't read it, that they went after my players too and that's crossing the boundary for me.
There are some guys that - I'm not an alum - and they weren't happy I was hired that I'm not an alum. That's...nothing's changed. I'm not an alum and nothing's changed for them because they're not happy I'm not an alum.
There's things you can control and there's things you can't. That's where I'll defend our players. They all graduate. Nobody gets in trouble. They represent the program the way we want them to be represented and are our players happy we're .500 or by it? No. This year we knew we had to grow with this group of players. If they want to go after me? So be it. Not the first time nor will it be the last. I feel very comfortable with how we conduct ourselves, with how we represent our school and the success we have.
Reporter (Eric Vegoe, Gopher Puck Live): Do you reach to any of the alumni or just let them have their opinion?
Lucia: There's some alums that have been great. I mean there's a reason why we have raised over $5 million dollars and are going to start a locker room renovation. We have got a group that has been very, very supportive and helped do that, but there's also a group that 5 years ago tried to get me fired and told me, "I'm not an alum," so they can't support me.
Nothing I can do about that.
Like I said, I came here and I said, "I'm going to be here so long and I want to be a part of the tradition," and be able to look up someday and come back.
And like I said, I've been comfortable with what we've been able to accomplish, the success that we've had. Is it going to please everybody? No. If you coach here, you've got to understand what you're getting in to so, like I said, I'm fine with it. People can have their opinion. I'm comfortable with how we've conducted ourselves with integrity and that's the way as long as I'm doing this it will be always be run with this program.
I guess the hard part was there's a lot of anonymous and just going after the players is out of bounds for me. So I'll defend our players all day long. They're great kids.
Reporter (Vegoe): Did you address the players with how to handle it?
Lucia: I talked to them a little briefly with hey I'm proud of you guys and how you represent the program and what you do and how hard you work each and every day. So we'll continue to do that and you know what? We'd all like to win a national title every year, but that's not realistic. Every coach that's ever been here has had some years that were not as good as others and that's in every sport. That's just the way it is.
All you can do is go to work, do the best job you can, try to have good kids and have a good program. It's just different in this day and age too. You can write a comment off a story, you can Twitter, you can post something on the internet. And you hear more from the people that want to tear you down than the people who are happy, whether it is you go on a bus tour and people come up to you "hey, love the program. You've done a great job with how the program is run." They're the ones who are not mouthing off to the paper.
That's just something you have to deal with. Not, like I said, the first. Whether it is me, or Doug (Woog) or Brad (Buetow) or whoever is coaching, that's the way it is. You just want ... you wish they were supportive of the players.
That's the part you'd like to see, but like I said there's been a great group that has worked on our fundraising. We couldn't be more excited that April 1st this whole area (author's note: Lucia is referring to the visiting locker room and downstairs area) is going to be torn apart and it is all going to be Gopher hockey for a long time coming.
We're close to having enough money to be completely re-doing the weight room and that's been our fundraising on campus, but there's been an alumni group that we've met with every month on a pretty regular basis to get this done and there's been a lot of contributions to the program. So I'm happy about that.
It's hard to address anonymous.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate