Recruiting in a tractor free stadium

âÄúOK, well, thatâÄôs the University of Minnesota; I hope you enjoyed the tour. I think youâÄôll agree this is a beautiful campus, even in January. I can tell you, itâÄôs even better once spring rolls around. Now, our stadium is just a couple miles off campus, right downtown actually. WeâÄôd love to show you around, but unfortunately, thereâÄôs a tractor pull there this afternoon, so weâÄôre not able to give you a tour of the facility.âÄù Sounds absurd, right? A college football coach telling a recruit the stadium he would be playing in was overtaken by a tractor pull? Welcome to recruiting for former Minnesota coach Glen Mason . Welcome to recruiting at the Metrodome. Sometimes it was tractor pulls, other times snowmobile contests, he said. It wasnâÄôt like he didnâÄôt understand why those events were going on âÄî a 64,000 seat indoor arena couldnâÄôt sit idle for the majority of the winter. But being unable to show potential Gophers where they would play their collegiate games wore on Mason after awhile. âÄúIt became very frustrating that [the stadium] wasnâÄôt on campus,âÄù Mason said. The atmosphere at the Dome wouldnâÄôt exactly be described as collegiate, either. Off-campus, indoors âÄî not exactly attractive for a recruit. Ironically, when the decision was made to move from Memorial Stadium to the Dome after the 1981 season, it was expected to help with recruiting. âÄúOne of the selling points was, itâÄôs going to help recruit because weâÄôre going to play indoors and weâÄôre going to get kids from Florida, California and Texas âÄî great football states âÄî who arenâÄôt going to be afraid [to come to Minnesota] because they donâÄôt have to worry about playing in the cold,âÄù Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. Mason found that logic to be flawed. âÄúYou could show prospects from the south that you play indoors; you donâÄôt have to worry about the weather. But the weatherâÄôs still severe here when you have to go to class so that negated it,âÄù he said. âÄúI was always one to adhere to the belief that our weather during football season here in Minnesota isnâÄôt any different than it is Iowa City or Ann Arbor or Columbus or Madison.âÄù Recruits weighing the Gophers against Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State or Wisconsin had plenty to consider, one factor being: Do I want to play in an on-campus, outdoor stadium thatâÄôs packed to the gills every weekend, or do I want to play in an off-campus, climate controlled bubble that might be more packed during a tractor pull than a football game? But as much as Mason felt football needed to be moved back to campus, there was only so much he could say. âÄúItâÄôs not something you want to say loudly publicly, because he had to recruit to that place,âÄù Maturi said. âÄúYou donâÄôt want to tell recruits, âÄòThis isnâÄôt a good place to play.âÄô âÄù âÄúAt the same time, in the appropriate time and place, say, âÄòYou know what? We need to move this back to campus.âÄô Coach [Mason] said that more than once and rightfully so.âÄù Out with the indoor, in with the outdoor Mason got his wish, albeit a few days late. On Dec. 31, 2006, two days after the Gophers melted down in the second half of the Insight Bowl against Texas Tech and lost 44-41, Mason was fired. On Jan. 3, 2007, the schematic design and budget for TCF Bank Stadium were approved by MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents. Then on Jan. 17, 2007, it was announced that Tim Brewster would be the head coach recruiting to a brand new, world class outdoor facility on the east edge of campus. Nearly two years later, Brewster is experiencing the impact TCF Bank Stadium has on Minnesota football. âÄúI donâÄôt think thereâÄôs any way that you can overestimate the good that itâÄôs going to do our program and the good itâÄôs already done our program as far as recruiting is concerned,âÄù Brewster said. Brewster brought a bold vision to Minnesota âÄî one of elevating the Gophers to Big Ten and national prominence âÄî and he said the stadium is a big step toward that goal. âÄúKids want to see a financial commitment. Kids want to see shiny new things when they visit your campus,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúWeâÄôre showing them a gorgeous, brand new stadium thatâÄôs incredible and kids want to play in [it].âÄù True freshman Troy Stoudermire, who was recruited from Dallas Skyline High School , said the new outdoor stadium did play a big role in his decision to attend Minnesota. âÄúI really like the outdoor stadiums better. When we went to Ohio State, that was the best thing ever âÄî going in and seeing all those people,âÄù he said. âÄúI just want something like that for us, so hopefully it will be like that next year.âÄù It should be âÄî thereâÄôs already a waiting list for 2009 season tickets. Add a packed house to the list of things Brewster and his staff can promote when talking to recruits. âÄúI think coach Brewster will tell you âÄî at least on the front end âÄî because of the newness and the excitement, he feels that [TCF Bank Stadium] is helping us sell the program,âÄù Maturi said. âÄúAnd I donâÄôt doubt that thatâÄôs the case.âÄù