Brewster’s mind recruiting-oriented

On Jan. 17, 2007, a buzz was sent across the state of Minnesota when Joel Maturi announced his selection of Tim Brewster as the Gophers head football coach.

From his first day in maroon and gold, the poised and charismatic Brewster proclaimed words often unheard of to fans of Minnesota football.

Phrases like “Gopher Nation,” “Rose Bowl” and “Big Ten Champions” rang consistently in the ears of Minnesotans, and this time the speaker was not doing so in mockery.

Only weeks before Brewster’s hiring, Minnesota and former head coach Glen Mason capped off their roller coaster 2006 campaign with a 44-41 loss to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl.

In combination with the way they lost their final game, giving up 24 unanswered fourth quarter points en route to the overtime loss and finishing the season 6-7, Maturi and the Gophers chose to go a different direction.

Well-known commodity

After various high-profile names floated around the news wires about who could take over the struggling Minnesota football program, many were shocked when Maturi announced the hiring of the relative no-name Tim Brewster.

Although Minnesota fans most likely didn’t recognize Brewster’s name, a lot of former athletes and coaches from his 21 years of prior experience stepped out to share their opinions on the newest Gophers head coach.

Word quickly spread about his time spent with coaching greats such as Mike Shanahan, Marty Schottenheimer and Mack Brown, and all three were more than willing to vouch for Brewster’s hiring.

Names of high-profile players that Brewster recruited in his days with North Carolina and Texas also quickly made their way to Minnesota. NFL names like Alge Crumpler, Chris Simms, Julius Peppers and, most notably, Vince Young put many Gophers fans at ease about the future of Minnesota football.

The descriptor that consistently came up in his assessments was “recruiter.”

Recruiting expert Tom Lemming from CSTV also gave Brewster high marks, saying that Minnesota would enter its “heyday” in recruiting with Brewster, and that he became “one of the best recruiters in the country” during his time at Texas.

“Dawn of a new day”

During his first opportunity on the podium as the Gophers head football coach, Brewster took the opportunity to share his vision of where he thought Minnesota could go as a football program.

“My stated goal was that we were going to recruit the state of Minnesota extremely hard,” Brewster said. “We are very passionate with what we are doing to reach out to the players in this state and wanting them to come play for us at the University of Minnesota.”

During spring practice, Brewster implemented new techniques to get Minnesota’s high school players and coaches involved with the program, something that was known to not be a strong point for Mason.

Brewster began opening spring practices to the public and hosted a fish fry on campus for all of Minnesota’s high school football coaches. He also made sure that at least one member of his staff visited every high school in the state to begin to build back strong relationships with the program.

Although Brewster said that he wants “the bulk of (his) players to come from the state of Minnesota,” only five of the current 18 verbal commitments for 2008 are from high schools in Minnesota.

But Brewster added that it is also important to “go out and supplement those (Minnesota) players with players from across the country.”

To accomplish this, Brewster combined his areas of expertise with hiring a new staff that has coached and built relationships in many of the recruiting hot-beds in the country. The heavy areas of focus seem to be coming from Florida, Texas and California.

This is a slight change from the days of Glen Mason, where the majority of the recruits from outside Minnesota came from the Ohio area, where he was formerly an assistant at Ohio State.


In order to get the players he wants from all around the country, Brewster said he has to change some misconceptions about what football is like in Minnesota.

One misconception that he often talks about is the cold weather in Minnesota, and that kids think they are “going to come in and freeze to death.”

“We’ve done a study on average game day temperature at the University of Minnesota,” Brewster said. “It is 64 degrees.”

He also said that his staff is going to work “extremely hard each and every day to get out and sell all of the great things about the state of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota and the vision of the program.”

Things that Brewster said he will emphasize to recruits in particular will be the opportunity to play right away, the academic environment, the facilities and the new stadium in 2009.

“There’s no shortage of reasons to come to Minnesota,” Brewster said.

Junior defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg said he has definitely noticed a difference in recruiting with the new coaching staff.

“They recruit pretty hard,” VanDeSteeg said. “You see a lot of kids coming out to our meetings and stuff before game day to get to see what we’re doing. That never happened in the past. They really push recruiting, and it’s going to be a big help for us.”

The future begins now

In the aftermath of a 1-11 record during his first season at Minnesota, Brewster said he is confident in his recruiting ability and is ready to go to work.

“My staff and I will reflect a little on the season, look at some things from the season and then we will get out and recruit very, very hard,” Brewster said with a smile after the Wisconsin game. “Very, very hard. I like to say that.”

Brewster also said that he will get some valuable time this offseason to visit the homes of his recruits in person, something he acknowledged he is very excited for and believes is one of his strengths.

“I can’t wait to talk to these families face to face,” Brewster said. “It gives me an opportunity to get into the homes and shake the hands of fathers and mothers and young people and really sell the University of Minnesota.”