HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

January 22, 2007

Brewster a good hire, but only time will tell

By Jesse Menden

Most people were probably scratching their heads Monday night and Tuesday morning when it was rumored that the University of Minnesota was about to hire somebody called Tim Brewster for their head football coaching job.

Nobody should be surprised that it is not a big name that was hired for this job.

Minnesota isn’t exactly in the class of the Big Ten when it comes to football.
But all in all, I think it was a solid hire.

Glen Mason was fired because he could not coach (losing the biggest lead in Division I bowl history), he could not recruit (prized Minnesota recruits rarely landed in Dinkytown), and he was horrible at public relations (calling fans drunk and displaying smugness, no matter the situation).

In college athletics, it is all about having a figure head as a coach. A program needs an enthusiastic salesperson with versatile skills.

The Gophers may have found that type of guy in Brewster.

The obvious weakness of the football program was recruiting. To get recruits, you need a coach with a name, or a salesman with great enthusiasm for his product.

Because Minnesota is not the most prized job, the Gophers did the right thing and took a proven recruiter who appears to have great eagerness to turn the football program around.

He has already taken some right steps by contacting Minnesota high school coaches. He also plans on hiring an assistant coach that is familiar with Minnesota high school football.

Already, by just saying that, he improved over the previous regime in recruiting, especially in-state recruiting.

The next biggest weakness of the program recently was the public relations aspect.

Former coach Glen Mason did have his backers, but so many people were tired of his antics that by the end, most Minnesotans completely tuned away from the program.

If not for this new hire, there would be zero conversations about Gopher football between the end of December and the middle of August.

Brewster will need to re-connect with all people at all levels and at the very least, be a nice guy that the fans will respect, win or lose, to draw fans back in.

He apparently has those skills. Just ask Joel Maturi, the U of M’s athletic director.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Maturi talked to grounds keepers at Mile High Stadium (Brewster was a tight end coach for the Denver Broncos), and asked what kind of guy he was.

Apparently Brewster knows a lot about grass and lawn mowers, because he is the “U’s” new head coach.

The third weakness of Mason was coaching, but that is the least thing the Gophers should worry about right now.

They need talent and support first, then coaching can become relevant.

When it does, Brewster should be okay. He has spent the past 19 years in college and professional football, working with some of the best.

He has never been a coordinator, much less a head coach, but I’m sure he has met many talented coaches along the way that he can hire to be assistants that will work directly with the players while he takes care of the rest.

Brewster looks like he can be the real deal and has the necessary skills that Mason was perhaps lacking. Having said that, the jury is out and will be for a few years to come.

It will take awhile to un-do the mess that was left for him, and to get his group of players, coaches, and supporters on board.

In this transition period between the two coaches, Minnesota will no doubt lose some recruits. It would be absolutely unfair to judge Brewster at least for the next three years.

And I think fans will be okay with that and will grant him that grace period, as long as he doesn’t lose 31-point leads in big games with regularity like Mason did.

Welcome to Minnesota, Mr. Brewster. Now, please bring excitement to Gopher football.