WACONIA, Minn. - A strained relationship between Minnesota Golden Gophers wideout A.J. Barker and coach Jerry Kill came to light this weekend when Barker quit the team and blasted the coach stating he was "degraded and belittled" and he was the victim of "textbook manipulation."
"There is a unique communication that happens between player and coach," said former U of M football player and NFL veteran Ben Utecht. "As an athlete there is an expectation that the communication is not always easy."
Utecht believes most conflicts between coaches and players should be kept private, but in an age of social media, athletes are often voicing issues that used to be kept behind closed doors.
"This is the new climate that we have as coaches," says Carl Pierson, head basketball coach at Waconia High School and author of "The Politics of Coaching." "The player in this preemptive move put the coach on the defensive. Now, the coach has to answer to these accusations and that's something that couldn't have happened five or 10 years ago, but social media affords that opportunity now."
But is it right?
"Are coaches going to have to change the way they communicate with their team? Almost certainly," says Pierson. "But is that good? Well, that depends."
Utecht admits he's had issues with coaches before, but says there's a proper way to respond."
"I've walked into coach's offices and had discussions before," he recalls. "We work it out and get on the same page. I've been told by football mentors not to take anything personal." Utecht recalls. "We work it out and get on the same page. I've been told by football mentors not to take anything personal."
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