Mason creates more questions than answers

Michael Dougherty

Take another team off the list of coaching jobs Minnesota football coach Glen Mason said he is not pursuing.
Big Ten rival Michigan State passed on a list of high-profile candidates and hired from within when the school removed the interim tag from assistant Bobby Williams and named him the school’s 21st coach.
Williams replaces Nick Saban, who left the Spartans for the Louisiana State job and $1.2 million a year. Mason was a candidate for the LSU job and met officials from the school in Chicago before Thanksgiving.
When Saban took the LSU loot and scooted, Michigan State had a wish list that included Mason, 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, Stanford coach Ty Willingham and Green Bay assistant Charlie Baggett.
But players and assistants for the Spartans rallied around Williams and urged school president Peter McPherson to promote Williams.
A 10-year assistant for the Spartans, Williams was Mason’s receivers coach for four months when Mason coached at Kansas in 1990.
Former Gophers assistant Reggie Mitchell is the current receivers coach for Michigan State. He was an assistant for Mason for 12 years prior to replacing Baggett, who left Michigan State after last season. Mitchell said he will remain in Michigan State.
Mason, who is finishing up the third year of a seven-year contract that pays about $520,000 per year, has said he is not actively pursuing a new job and is happy with his current job.
But he also said the upheaval in the athletics department “changes things.” Mason met with University President Mark Yudof on Friday to discuss changes in the coach’s contract.
Yudof offered the coach a raise almost two weeks ago, which was thought to be around $100,000 per year. Mason’s current salary is in the bottom half of the conference and Yudof has said he is going to have to “sweeten the pot.”
It was rumored that Mason would take the Michigan State job if offered, but it is unclear whether or not he was officially offered the job.
On a conference call with Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, and Sun Bowl chairman John Folmer on Sunday evening, reporters asked Mason if he was offered the position and said, “I’m answering bowl questions only.”
When asked again about the Michigan State job, Mason refused comment, referring to his bowl-questions-only mantra.
Later, Bellotti joked that he liked all the reporters questions about Mason and his coaching future because it would “keep (Mason) distracted”.
Mason responded that he was going to start rumors about Bellotti, because, “All these media guys want to know what I’m doing — that’s hurting the team. They don’t care about what they’re doing to hurt the team.”
Mason’s team moved up to 12th in the final Associated Press poll that was released Sunday. The team also practiced Sunday for the first time since before the Nov. 20 Iowa game. Because Mason was traveling in conjunction with recruiting efforts, he wasn’t at practice.
Defensive end Karon Riley said he understands Mason’s reasons for looking at the other jobs, and said the $1.2 million Saban got from LSU is a lot of money to pass up.
But he also said he was never worried that Mason would leave.
Quarterback Billy Cockerham said the same thing. So did running back Thomas Hamner and linebacker Sean Hoffman. In fact, all of them said they think the media is blowing the situation out of proportion.
“He wouldn’t go anywhere, I don’t think,” Hoffman said.
Tyrone travels for trophies
Gophers strong safety Tyrone Carter left for Charlotte on Sunday to attend a ceremony where the Nagurski Award will be given out. The award is given by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the event is hosted by Florida State coach Bobby Bowden
The Nagurski Award is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player. Carter is one of five finalists for the award along with Penn State’s LaVar Arrington, teammate Courtney Brown, Virginia Tech’s Corey Moore and Corey Simon of Florida State. Carter is the only defensive back nominated for the honor.
Then Carter will head to Orlando on Wednesday for the announcement of the Thorpe Award that is given each year to the country’s top defensive back.
New Mexico’s Brian Urlacker and Tennesee’s Deon Grant round out the trio of finalists. The award will be presented during the ESPN College Football Awards which will be televised from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

Michael Dougherty covers football and basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]