June 26, 2007

the NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 3

How quickly can either of these programs win a Big Ten title?

The NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 3 of 8

Intro - Turning point for Gopher FB and BB
Part 1 - What can we expect in 2007? - FB
Part 2 - What can we define as success (short term)? - FB

This is THE important question. With any new coach there is an initial period of excitement and anticipation. This is followed by collective patience while the new guy implements his schemes and recruits his players. But following that there has to be some meeting of the fan base's expectations.

Coach Brewster has certainly passed the test on generating excitement and anticipation within Gopher Nation. As if creating Gopher Nation wasn't enough he has generated ticket sales that this team hasn't seen in a number of seasons. It is expected that the every home football game will have the lower deck completely sold out (can you hear the laugher from Madison, Ann Arbor and Columbus? the lower deck? whoo hooo!). This bump in ticket sales (along with basketball season ticket orders) will allow the athletic department to pay off the former mediocre coaches (Mason and Monson) quicker than originally anticipated.

The second phase will play itself out this fall and probably the fall of 2008.

But taking this program to levels of success that Mason only dreamed about is another thing altoegether. One thing that I love about Coach Brewster is that from his opening press conference he hasn't been shy about his goals to win the Big Ten and go to Pasadena (again the collective midwest laughter is deafening). You haven't heard him tell us how bad the program has been in the past or list the difficulties that this program has for recruiting and sustained success. Instead he put in out there right away, "We're going to take Gopher Nation to Pasadena." Now, I hope he didn't mean as a tour bus for all of us to go watch USC vs. Michigan after we have won the Music City Bowl. While that would be fun to road trip with Brew and crew, I'd much rather witness the Gophers competing in the Rose Bowl in my lifetime. But how realistic is this and how quickly can it happen? Here is my timeline...

2007 - my magic 8-ball says "outlook not so good" (and by not so good I mean, not possible). The talent gap between the top tier of the Big Ten and mediocre tier is too great. Even if Brewster surpassess all expectations finishing 1st is just not realistic no matter how much maroon Kool-Aid you drink. Surpassing expectations and showing success on the field will however greatly help with recruiting. Currently Brewster is getting close to very good recruits but his lack of game experience is the opening for negative recruiting and makes it hard for these kids to committ. Winning some games and showing a style of football that will be fun to watch and play in will help to get some kids to committ.

2008 - Still probably a transition year. Brewster has to bring in more talent and even if he lands a top 10 recruiting class this year (which the 8-ball says "my sources say no" and so do mine) then those kids are freshmen in the Big Ten. Maybe we see some improvment and maybe a glimmer of hope but again winning the Big Ten isn't likely. This recruiting class has to be better than the Mason classes and I think it will be. It will have players who will contribute but won't be full of "difference makers."

2009 - I still say no. This freshman class and the soph class "should" be getting us to the point of a much more talented team from top to bottom but they are still so young. We will be in the new stadium and hopefully this will be the year that we break into that top tier of the Big Ten. Finish top 4 and be competitive in all of our games, then with a young team we have tremendous anticipation for 2010. This freshman class nees to have some difference makers, some 5-star recruits and be noticed nationally as one of the best recruiting classes in the country. And maybe a Jan 1 bowl game? That would be refreshing.

2010 and 2011 - these are the years that Gopher Nation should be looking forward to (who is laughing NOW!?). 3 years for Brewster to establish his style of play, get the kids for his system here, upgrade the overall talent and now we can compete with the best of the Big Ten, not the "rest" of the Big Ten.

The first 2 season I really don't care how good of a coach Brewster is, improving the talent level is priority #1. Beginning in 2009 I care very much how well Brewster can coach, because now his job is to take this team to the next level ON the field. Winning with current talent just isn't realistic no matter who is coaching, but eventually it will be his talent and then he has to start delivering on the goals that he set forth and Gopher Nation is buying into.


Badger Tracker said...

You're going to confuse the folks in Ann Arbor with talk of a "lower deck." Last I checked, they've only got one deck!

Tom said...

good point, I was of course referring to the difference between getting excited about 30,000+ guaranteed tickets vs. 100,000+. But they do get confused easily. :)