As season finale approaches, Brewster still positive

Head coach Tim Brewster is driven to “make this program special again.”

Luke Middendorf

Anyone who has even been a casual Gophers football fan in 2007 knows that head coach Tim Brewster is not a man who is easily discouraged.

Even through what could turn out to be a 1-11 record in his first season at Minnesota, Brewster’s positivity, vigor and smooth-talking charisma has been ceaseless.

From his first days as the Gophers head coach, which started Jan. 17, the 47-year-old has talked eloquently and passionately about the unspoken football tradition at the University, the so-called “Gopher Nation” and the not-so-far-away dreams of Big Ten championships and Rose Bowls.

Although many of those visions are still unclear through the cloudiness of a disappointing season, Brewster’s character has shown through by the consistency of his word and the time he has already put in to revitalize the state of Minnesota in getting behind his dreams of Gophers greatness.

The first-year coach said that the most exciting thing for him this season has been getting to know more about the tradition and history of the program that he is being asked to lead in a new direction.

“Learning more about it (Minnesota’s history) each and every day, and being a part of something that is so special is very exciting to me,” Brewster said Tuesday. “I believe this with all of my heart, that there is not a more storied program than the University of Minnesota, if you study it and learn about the tradition that is really here.”

Whenever a question about his vision and heart for the football program at Minnesota is brought up, Brewster’s face changes to the look of a man who will not take no for an answer.

“I’m just so unbelievably driven to make this program special again, to lead this program to a Big Ten championship,” he said. “That’s something that Minnesotans deserve.”

Although it is well known that a coach must be given time to turn a program around and build off a potential one-win season, there is one aspect of college coaching that Brewster is expected to do well in during his first full year.

“My job is to sell the University of Minnesota, that’s what we’re going to do as a staff extremely hard each and every day,” Brewster said. “Recruiting is something that I really enjoy.”

Recruiting is also a topic that creates a significant change in the complexion of Brewster’s face, this time creating a glow in his eyes and a captivating smile that can only be described as the likes of a kid in a candy store.

From his first days in coaching at the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas, he has been known as one of the top recruiters in the country, bringing in high-profile talent and current NFL stars such as Julius Peppers, Alge Crumpler and Vince Young.

Although he has not promised immediate NFL-type results, Brewster has made a significant commitment to put much of his energy towards recruiting, while also making sure that all of the top in-state talent stays in the state.

“We want Minnesotans to stay at home,” Brewster said. “I don’t want Minnesotans to feel like they have to leave this state and maybe go to Iowa or Wisconsin. There is no shortage of reasons to come to Minnesota. I think kids in the state of Minnesota understand our vision and where we want to go. We want to be a championship football team here, and I think kids want to be a part of that.”

Although it may be tough to imagine how such a disappointing season could produce a great recruiting class, Brewster said he has witnessed it multiple times.

“Two of our best recruiting classes at the University of North Carolina were coming off our 1-10 season,” Brewster said. “That’s how we built that program into being one of the top-five football programs in the country.”

Brewster also has spoken of the rebuilding process that took place at the University of Wisconsin through former coach Barry Alvarez, who went 1-10 in his first year to 10-1-1 in his fourth year, and said he believes the same can happen at Minnesota.

Minnesota’s players also seem to have bought into Brewster’s positive outlook on the future of the program.

“You’ve got to stay positive,” sophomore wide receiver Eric Decker said. “But it all starts with the guys in the locker room that have to look at themselves and say, ‘What can I do to make this team better?’ “

A big step forward for the future of Minnesota football could start this Saturday as they face off with border rival Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Many of the Gophers players said they would not only like to win for themselves or to send off the seniors, but also for coach Brewster.

“He (Brewster) has handled the criticism well,” senior captain and linebacker Mike Sherels said. “A win would give him a lot of momentum going into the offseason and a positive note to end on.”