- "1 TD in 8 quarters? They were never in the game for goodness sake. The people of the state of Minnesota deserve better. We need to demand excellence out of this once national power of a program. How can Iowa and Sconni have solid teams and the U of M has been average to horrible for the past 40 years? START GRAY NOW. Get rid of Weber and Brewster. Clearly none are good at their job.s (sic)." - "Big Sting"
- "Note to Joel Maturi: Resign immediately, but not before you fire your brilliant TE coach." - "Farmboy 7"
- "This is one big stinkin' football program. It gets worse every year. Add two more decks to that U. Stadium, put a roof on it, and give it to the Vikings....The Gophers certainly don't deserve a new stadium." - "Clel"
- "Please, please, PLEASE! Everyone e-mail Joel Maturi and tell him Brewster has to go. The fact that we were down by over 30 and Weber was still playing shows Brewster has a screw loose. Gray is the future and there was no reason he shouldn't have been in there more. Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy are viable options at head coach. If Gray doesn't start next week it could get ugly." - "Gophernate"
- "I wouldn't be surprised if the Gophers lose every remaining game....including South Dakota State." - "Hahahaha99"
And that's just a sampling.
Gopher coach Tim Brewster has been under considerable heat for the past few weeks. When the Gophers played in Happy Valley against Penn State (the Big Ten's leading defense) two weeks ago, Minny was shut out and held the ball on offense a mere 18 minutes. This past weekend, the Gophers played the league's second-ranked defense and were close for the first half, only to be steamrolled in the second half, mostly because Ohio State scored 24 points off of four Minnesota turnovers after the break. For this, according to many Gopher fans, Brewster needs to be fired.
Remember, Minnesota fired a coach in Glen Mason on New Year's Eve 2006 after an embarrassing Insight Bowl loss to Texas Tech after blowing a huge lead. The Gophers finished 6-7 that season with a very young football team. Still, Athletics Director Joel Maturi had seen enough. The fan base had increasingly grown weary of Mason. The knock was that he didn't win enough in the Big Ten (32-48) and couldn't consistently beat Wisconsin and Iowa. Also, the Gophers never finished with more than five conference wins in Mason's ten seasons, and never finished higher than fourth. Mason was viewed as perfect for turning around moribund programs, but could not adjust to game situations on Saturdays. He couldn't (or wouldn't) recruit Minnesota's top football talents, and was thought to be arrogant with the public and the media. His act had grown tired to many people, and Maturi clearly bowed to public pressure in dismissing Mason.
Maturi had dismissed basketball coach Dan Monson a few weeks prior and needed to hit a home run with the two new coaches. After a national search was conducted, and the names Lane Kiffin, David Gibbs, Gary Patterson, and others were thrown around, Maturi settled on Denver Broncos' assistant Tim Brewster as the new coach, and handed him a five-year deal. He had a reputation as a recruiting dynamo from his days at North Carolina and Texas under Mack Brown. Brewster was introduced to the public and wowed the student section at a Gopher basketball that night with the announcement that his staff was going to recruit the state hard and everywhere else for talent. It was also clear that Maturi wanted to change everything in the football program. There was no immediate reason to rebuild the program. The team had won six games the season prior and had plenty of talent returning to the team for 2007. A strong recruiting class secured by Mason was expected, headlined by some local talent (including Armstrong's David Gilreath, who ended up pulling his commitment after Mason's firing and signed with Wisconsin instead), and the team had an easier schedule for which to look forward. Still, Maturi clearly wanted to dismantle the way things had been done under Mason and build a new program in his - and Brewster's - image.
That meant the running-dominant offensive system would be replaced by a spread offense commanded by spread dynamo Mike Dunbar. The defense would be coordinated by Everett Withers, whom Brewster lauded as one of the game's up-and-coming coaching prospects, and would be "simplified" from the previous season's version. As spring practice rolled along, it was clear the 2007 team was going to be bad. Only a triple-OT victory over Miami (OH) saved the program from the indignity of a winless season, and the 1-11 squad allowed a whopping 440 points! Still, one cannot rebuild unless one tears down first!
The 2008 season was much-improved, thanks to a strong recruiting class and a maturing core. Withers was replaced by Ted Roof as DC, and the team allowed far fewer points. The Gophers started 7-1, and rumors of Brewster-to-the-NFL and other plum collegiate jobs abounded. There was plenty of talk among Gopher Nation to extend him now. Maturi resisted, and the team lost its final five games to finish 7-6. The schedule was going to be tougher in 2009, the team would replace Dunbar as OC with young Jedd Fisch, and Roof resigned for the DC job at Auburn and was replaced by Kevin Cosgrove, but expectations were high for the first year in their own stadium.
The 2009 recruiting class was one of the best and most athletic ever to come to Minnesota. Brewster has acquitted himself quite well on the recruiting trail and Minnesota high school coaches say Brewster and his staff have made strong inroads with the coaches in the effort to keep the top players home. Not all of them stay here. Cretin WR Michael Floyd, for example, opted for Notre Dame before the 2008 season. Still, Brewster was there in the end, which was not a place the Gophers typically found themselves in the past.
So, fans are looking to make another coaching change after only two recruiting classes from Brewster? That is beyond absurd reasoning. Unlike the NFL, where the draft, free agency, and salary cap can make the rebuilding process faster, the collegiate ranks clearly take time. New regimes mean new systems, styles, and recruiting efforts, not to mention working with 18-22-year-old kids along the way. Brewster deserves the opportunity to serve out the length of his contract to see if his recruits can cut the mustard at the collegiate ranks or at least at the U. The jury is still out whether or not Brewster is a good technical coach, but he has shown an ability to recruit well.
Another reason for him to return is that this program hasn't exactly been stellar in the past. The Gophers won 10 games in 2003, and that was the first time since 1905 that this had been accomplished. The fans in the comments section point to the "once national powerhouse" tradition at the U, but that was in the 40's and early 60's. Sophomore players on the last national championship squad of 1960 would be almost 70 years old today. Coach Murray Warmath is often viewed as a deity in these parts today, but fans forget that he was run out of town by an angry fan base after a combined 11-18-2 mark in his final three seasons at the U, concluding in 1971. The successors since Warmath's "resignation" after 18 seasons, two Rose Bowls, and a 87-78-7 (65-57-4 in the conference) record have not exactly been stellar (Big Ten Records in parentheses):
- Cal Stoll, 1972-1978 = 39-39 (27-29)
- Joe Salem, 1979-1983 = 19-35-1 (12-32-1)
- Lou Holtz, 1984-1985 = 10-12 (7-10)
- John Gutekunst, 1985-1991 = 29-37-2 (18-28-2)
- Jim Wacker, 1992-1996 = 16-39 (8-32)
- Glen Mason, 1997-2006 = 64-57 (32-48)
- Tim Brewster, 2007-Present = 12-19 (5-14)
So, there you have it, Gopher Nation....In 38 seasons of football, the Gophers have not had a coach post a career conference record over the .500 mark. Only Mason has managed to breach the .50 mark, and his critics are quick to point out that was courtesy of a cake non-conference schedule. Where the heck are the "Glory Days" everyone speaks about? What tradition are we looking to recapture?
I've heard a lot of comparisons of Brewster to Wacker, but to compare the football situations of both men is ridiculous. Yes, they both have outgoing personalities compared to Mason's somewhat dour persona, but Brewster has proven to be a far superior recruiter and the talent on this year's team far surpasses anything on any of the Wacker teams.
The bottom line is that this program has absolutely sucked for a very long time, period. That the public has created unrealistic expectations on its football team to try to restore some sort of winning tradition that was last present when the current crop of 65-year-olds was in high school is laughable. Look, nobody wants a winning football program more than I. However, the public and administration has to be willing to be patient with a coaching staff and give it time before clamoring to make wholesale changes in search of a quick fix.
I remain a huge Mason supporter, and I believe if he were still the Gophers' coach, the team would be in far better shape than the current lot. If someone with the recruiting ability of Brewster (or even Brewster himself) would have come on to Mason's staff, the team would be among the top teams in the Big Ten and would at least compete with Wisconsin and Iowa. However, the public wanted "Mase" gone and Maturi obliged and hired Brewster to change everything. He needs more than three years to work his magic, and the public needs to get off his back.
Don't waste your time arguing with me about taxpayer-financed stadiums and the like. I always maintained that a football stadium would never solve the U's football problems overnight, and that winning was the best cure. However, the sparkling new stadium will only serve to level the playing field on the recruiting trail against the likes of Iowa and Wisconsin. If the Gophers can build a winning tradition in their new digs, complete with a hostile atmosphere from the fans, the recruits will notice. Brewster can lay it on thick in recruits' living rooms, so no doubt this is being done repeatedly.
The Gophers need more time with this regime in order to get better. If Maturi bows to public pressure and cans Brewster after this season or next, the clock will start all over with someone else, and the road to respectability will get longer.
Post-Script: By the way, Tony Dungy is not coming here to coach. I repeat, Tony Dungy is not coming here to coach, so get it out of your heads. Even if he did, how is a guy who hasn't coached at the collegiate level going to be the answer? How will the U pay him? Forget it - it's not happening.