Coach brings power to rebuild, experience

Aaron Kirscht

Soon after Jim Wacker announced his resignation as Gophers football coach, men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart placed a call to Kansas in search of a replacement.
He hoped to find an interested Glen Mason, then coach of the Jayhawks, on the other end of the line.
In a way, he did.
Mason told Dienhart to call back when the University was serious about hiring a new coach. Three weeks after the initial contact, and several rejections from other coaches, Dienhart called back, and Mason fessed up. He was interested.
A few days later, Dienhart announced Mason would take over the helm as Gophers coach.
This wasn’t the first time that Mason, 46, had been involved with the Gophers. He was contacted as a possible replacement for John Gutekunst in 1991, but opted out of the search process, which eventually came down to Wacker.
In the last year, Mason had become a popular candidate for various coaching vacancies across the country.
Last December, Georgia was looking for a replacement for Ray Goff. Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley contacted Mason just over a year ago and Mason showed interest in the Georgia job.
After meeting with Dooley to discuss the prospect, Mason accepted the position, but changed his mind a week later and decided to stay at Kansas for personal reasons.
His comfortable tenure, coupled with testy divorce proceedings, kept him from making the move. But Mason’s recruitment at a high-level school like Georgia put his name on the national coaching map.
Mason’s near-heroic status at KU quickly shifted to one of high, albeit unmet, expectations last season.
The Mason-coached Jayhawks lost four straight to instate rival Kansas State (whose coach, Bill Snyder, was also contacted about the Gophers job) and a top-10 ranking in 1995 gave way to a substandard 4-7 overall record (2-6 in the Big 12). His rebuilding efforts long forgotten, critics were calling for Mason’s release.
So Mason, now remarried and finally ready for a change, is fresh into his third tenure as a head coach. It’s a position where he’s gained a national reputation as a “Mr. Fix-It,” the sort of coach who can turn around a struggling program.
That reputation appears well-deserved. Mason has twice before whipped struggling programs into shape. Here is a brief time-line of Mason’s 25-year coaching career:

ù 1972 — After graduating from Ohio State, Mason’s first coaching experience came as a graduate assistant at Ball State.
ù 1973 — Mason served as offensive coordinator at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
ù 1974 — Returned to Ball State to coach the defensive line.
ù 1975-76 — Offensive line coach at Iowa State.
ù 1977 — Mason returned to the Big Ten, serving as offensive line coach at Illinois.
ù 1978-86 — Back at Ohio State, Mason coached outside linebackers and offensive line before his promotion to offensive coordinator in 1980.
ù 1986-87 — Mason takes over as head coach at Kent State. He revitalized the typically weak Kent State program, going 7-4 in 1987 — the school’s first winning season in more than a decade — before he moved to Kansas.
ù 1988-96 — Mason compiles a 47-54-1 record at Kansas. His best season was in 1995. The Jayhawks finished 10-2, including a 51-30 win over UCLA in the Aloha Bowl.