Brewster’s record made worse by style

Brewster's record made worse by style

Josh Katzenstein

It picked up during the Minnesota football teamâÄôs embarrassing loss to South Dakota.

âÄúFire Brewster,âÄù roared the student section âÄî and others âÄî during all four 2010 losses at TCF Bank Stadium.

The two-word cheer rang loudly at Mariucci Arena after Nebraska-Omaha took a 1-0 lead against the Gophers menâÄôs hockey team Saturday night.

âÄúFire Brewster.âÄù

Even before hip-hop artist Kid Cudi took the stage at Williams Arena on Oct. 1, thousands of University of Minnesota students rapped in harmony.

âÄúFire Brewster.âÄù

Although a head football coach isnâÄôt on the field coughing up fumbles, dropping touchdown passes or being flagged for costly penalties, he is the face of the program.

And Tim Brewster rightly deserves much of the blame for his teamâÄôs struggles (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten), which is why he was relieved of his duties Sunday morning following a 28-17 loss at Purdue.

But Xs and Os were by no means BrewsterâÄôs biggest problem in his three-plus seasons with Minnesota. Since Jan. 17, 2007, when he took the gig, Brewster has promised better things than he could deliver and avoided discussing flaws with his team that directly resulted in losses.

Goals out of reach

In BrewsterâÄôs first press conference as head coach, he said he would bring the Gophers somewhere they had not been since 1962: the Rose Bowl.

âÄúMy expectation from day one is to win the Big Ten championship,âÄù he said in 2007. âÄúWe want to win it now. I’m not interested in any type of rebuilding process.âÄù

Coaches should have confidence in their ability and the abilities of their players, but such lofty goals can lead to depressing falls if they go unmet.

Athletics director Joel Maturi said he hired Brewster because of his emotion and vision.

âÄúQuite frankly, I want whoever coaches this football team to believe weâÄôre going to get there [the Rose Bowl],âÄù Joel Maturi said in February.

Belief is one thing, but when three of four seasons include losing streaks of at least five games, fans become restless with the regime.

âÄúMaking a statement saying that the Rose Bowl is not out of reach sets an image in peopleâÄôs minds that thatâÄôs where weâÄôre going,âÄù said Paul Omodt, vice president of Minneapolis public relations firm Padilla Speer Beardsley. âÄúThen when you kind of fail on the field the way they have, it kind of casts doubt in your storyline.

âÄúPeople donâÄôt like to be held in limbo. ItâÄôs the coachâÄôs job to lead them through it.âÄù

To his credit, Brewster has never shied from blame. After a 41-38 home loss on Sept. 11 to South Dakota, a Football Championship Series team (formerly Division I-AA), he said he needed to have his team better prepared.

Clearly, he needed to have his team better prepared for the five losses that have followed, but Brewster often found ways of pointing to how the team succeeded instead of how it faltered.

Brewster would applaud Adam WeberâÄôs success, even though the senior quarterbackâÄôs numbers skyrocketed in the fourth quarter because the Gophers played from behind.

He would also note time of possession, for which the team has come out on top four times this season.

âÄúTime of possession might be something that coaches are really into, and itâÄôs a metric you can talk about,âÄù said Omodt, who has worked in public relations for 21 years. âÄúI donâÄôt think itâÄôs as compelling as David slaying Goliath. He might have been on the field and slung rocks for 30 seconds, but Goliath might have swords for an hour. ItâÄôs the end result part that matters more.âÄù

The end results under Brewster include a 15-30 overall record. They include a 6-21 conference record. They are highlighted by a 0-9 record against ranked teams, and a 0-10 mark in trophy games.

Until the Gophers climb out of the bottom half of the Big Ten, where theyâÄôve been cemented for years, they will continue to be David in big-game situations.

Measured against Mason

The best thing Brewster had going for him when he stepped in as head coach was a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the most recent coach.

Gophers fans perfected the âÄúFire MasonâÄù chant long before they had ever heard of Brewster.

But Brewster showed a hand that Mason never had âÄî the possibility of finishing an entire football season with just one win.

WhatâÄôs worse for Brewster is that people tuning in to Big Ten Network for Gophers highlights see MasonâÄôs smirk on Saturdays, and heâÄôs never smiled wider than this season when Brewster should have had his recruits âÄî and not MasonâÄôs âÄî in place.

âÄúHe started this season by saying these are my guys now. These arenâÄôt my predecessorâÄôs guys,âÄù Omodt said. âÄúIâÄôm going to take this program. This is the start of the new era.âÄù

All season, Brewster has said the teamâÄôs biggest concern is the inexperience on defense. Everyone on the defense was a Brewster recruit, which means he didnâÄôt recruit guys that were ready to play.

Brewster didnâÄôt want a rebuilding process, but after going 1-11, thatâÄôs what he had. This was the year that the program should have been ready to reach its goals. This was the year Brewster found out MasonâÄôs recruits were more capable of winning football games than his own.

Problems with media

In July, The Minnesota Daily reported that the University had sold only half of the student tickets for the second-year of TCF Bank Stadium.

Days later, a Daily reporter asked Brewster how he felt about the factual statistic.

âÄúIn talking with President [Bob] Bruininks and Joel Maturi, I don’t think there’s any slump in our ticket sales,âÄù Brewster said at Big Ten media days in Chicago. âÄúWe think we’re going to be sold out.âÄù

The stadium has not been sold out for a single game this season, including a hyped matchup with Southern California on Sept. 18.

Brewster is supposed to keep the excitement level around the football team high, but heâÄôs not supposed to call out reporters for reporting factual information, which he proceeded to do in Chicago.

In the private interview session that followed BrewsterâÄôs press conference, he joked with the student reporter saying âÄúyou barely have hair on your faceâÄù and explained that the student would eventually learn how to conduct an interview.

âÄúIt’s just that you’ll learn as you go into this business not to come into a situation like that unprepared,âÄù Brewster said.

But the former coach didnâÄôt shy from demeaning experienced reporters either.

Following the Gophers 29-28 loss to Northwestern on Oct. 2, Brewster told this reporter and a reporter from the Star Tribune that we âÄúdonâÄôt understand footballâÄù for questioning the play calling in the final two minutes of the game.

The Gophers ran three run plays when trying to mount a comeback, two of which went for losses instead of gains.

âÄúWe were perfectly fine with the calls that we made, and it just didnâÄôt work,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúThose two runs just didnâÄôt work.âÄù

In a summer interview with the UniversityâÄôs news service, Brewster said one of the most surprising things about his job was how much he had to handle the mediaâÄôs agenda.

âÄúThereâÄôs such a deep-seated, deep-rooted skepticism about Gopher football,âÄù said Brewster, adding that he strongly believed he could win a championship here and silence the skeptics.

âÄúYouâÄôve got to have thick skin,âÄù Brewster told reporters a day after the Gophers lost to Northern Illinois on Sept. 25. âÄúIf I took seriously all the BS you guys write. I mean, are you kidding me? ItâÄôs a joke. ItâÄôs an absolute joke.âÄù

The hardest part of a college football coachâÄôs job is winning football games. Plain and simple.

Problems with administration

Throughout BrewsterâÄôs tenure, Bruininks and Maturi have outspokenly stood behind him.

However, before the decision came down to relieve Brewster, both said the football teamâÄôs results were unacceptable.

âÄúI knew there would be some growing pains,âÄù Maturi told the Daily in February regarding BrewsterâÄôs 1-11 first season, âÄúbut it was more traumatic than I think any of us expected it to be.âÄù

Maturi said the South Dakota loss this season âÄúdid scare the tar out of me.âÄù

âÄúWe need a stronger football program here at the University of Minnesota,âÄù Bruininks said after the loss to South Dakota. âÄúOur fans deserve it and our students, faculty and staff deserve [it].

âÄúIâÄôm guardedly optimistic, but I would say to all of our fans, we have high aspirations for Gopher football, and weâÄôre not going to be satisfied with mediocre results and a mediocre season.âÄù

Or a mediocre head coach.

Related:

Brewster out after sixth loss

Interim head coach Jeff Horton and quarterback Adam Weber press conference (video)

Brewster dismissal press conference highlights (blog)

Brewster’s two-year contract extension (PDF)

Gophers lose sixth straight

Current status: Brewster still employed (10/16)