One thing former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Minter won’t do is question Jerry Richardson’s decisions.
After the Panthers’ owner fired general manager Dave Gettleman on Monday, the NFL world scratched its head at the move made only eight days before training camp in Spartanburg.
Minter, in his fifth season as football coach at Campbell, played 10 seasons for Richardson and the Panthers. Since his rookie season, he said the two developed a “father-son relationship.” Minter, in Charlotte Tuesday for Big South Media Day, said that family bond oozes throughout the organization, and Gettleman tampered with it.
By not extending the contracts of favorite players like tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis, along with the previous messy departures of receiver Steve Smith and running back DeAngelo Williams, Minter suggested Gettleman “checked off the boxes” that influenced Richardson’s decision to release him. And though the timing seems strange, Minter said he won’t ask why. He knows it’s for the best because he trusts Richardson's judgment.
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“His whole organization is built around respect and family and loyalty, and based off the reactions of some of the players, they weren’t feeling that,” Minter said. “In leadership you have to go with decisions that some people won’t understand. Some leaders would have waited, but he didn’t. And that's why he's great.
“You can’t be successful like he has been and not have a system.”
Minter hopes to instill that successful mentality at Campbell. The Camels don’t enter the Big South Conference until 2018, but Minter represented them Tuesday at the conference's media day at the Marriott Hotel in Charlotte.
Campbell (5-5) plays in the Pioneer Football League, a non-scholarship conference that includes Davidson. When the Camels join the Big South, Minter is looking forward to an upgrade in competition and recruiting.
“It’s different from a talent aspect,” Minter said. “The talent level and the competitive nature of all these teams, I think that's going to be the biggest challenge."
▪ Minter said he's excited to play against Gardner-Webb (5-6), which is led led by senior quarterback Tyrell Maxwell. The 2017 Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year had 1,657 passing yards and nine touchdowns last season, but also led the Bulldogs in rushing yards with 965 yards. Coach Carroll McCray said he's looking for development in his running backs so Maxwell doesn’t have to run as often.
▪ The 2017 season will be the last for Liberty (6-5) as a member of the Big South. The Flames are moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Though Liberty will play a Big South schedule this season, it will be ineligible for a conference championship or a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff berth. ... Liberty is also ineligible for the preseason poll because of its transition to FBS.
▪ For the first time in Big South history, two teams tied for first place in the preseason conference poll. Two time reigning conference champion Charleston Southern (7-4) and third year-program Kennesaw State (8-3) each earned nine first-place votes and eight second place votes. Kennesaw State will host Charleston Southern Nov. 11.
Big South 2017 preseason football poll (with first-place votes):
T-1. Charleston Southern (9); T-1. Kennesaw State (9); 3. Gardner-Webb; 4. Monmouth; 5. Presbyterian.