November 17, 2007

Brewster Skepticism - a different take...

Today's Star Tribune had Patrick Reusse taking another opportunity rip Tim Brewster.

Paging Jim Shikenjanski offered up his thoughts and tentative agreement with Reusse.

I'm offering another take. If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I am mostly positive when it comes to gopher athletics. But I should note that I completely agree with the notion that we should be skeptical of Brewster. My problem is, Patrick Reusse's is completely wrong. His point by point reasoning for skepticism is completely off base.

Patrick's Problem? - Talk is Cheap

PR has hammered his point home several times since Brewster was hired in January. Tim Brewster was hired and made the following statements...

"Our expectation is to win a Big Ten Championship now. We're not interested in any rebuilding process. I'm very fortunate that I'm not coming into a situation that is decimated where there are no players. There are players here."

" ... We're in a little different situation here than it is at most places that are going through the hiring process. I'm very excited that it's not a complete rebuilding process."

PR has had a tremendous problem with these statements and has ridiculed them with tremendous passion. Why I really don't know. If you look at those statements from the perspective of a crusty and crabby member of the local media then they are completely ridiculous. If you are a long time fan of the gophers you love to hear it. If you are a member of the gopher athletic department and you see a spike in ticket sales that is exactly what you want to hear. And most importantly if you are a player on the team this is EXACTLY what you want/need to hear. If he comes out and says what Reusse wants to hear he risks losing the respect of his upper-classmen before he ever steps foot on the practice field. You can't say one thing to the media and another to your team and expect to get your seniors to play for you. He's been consistent, he's trying to get his team confident and ready to play.

If you are the head coach of a division 1 football team you have a few jobs in early January...
  1. Convince your team that they are capable of winning.
  2. Get your fan base excited.
  3. Sell tickets for your athletic department
If you are a head coach of a division 1 football team your job is NOT to make a local columnist happy by being honest about how bad your team may be.

Again, you have to think like you are the coach of a team, not a megaphone of truth to the media. Tim Brewster coming out in early January and making statements like "this is a total rebuilding year." "Our defense has very little talent." "Hopefully we can compete in the top 4 of the Big Ten in the next several years." That would accomplish NOTHING. It would have killed what little time he had to recruit. And what message does that send to the guys on your team?

Ultimately the message sent to his team is far more important than the message sent to the local media.

There are many reasons to be skeptical of Brewster. But the statements he made in early January are completely irrelevant to what we are currently seeing on the field or to his 2007 record. It also should be noted...
  1. At the time of those statements Brewster still had 2 defensive starters on this team that would eventually be kicked off the team (that may have made a difference this year).
  2. When on the job for just hours, I think his time to accurately evaluate his team's talent level going forward was a little short.
Reasons to be Skeptical?

1 - Never Been a Head Coach

This is a big deal and Brewster has struggled most of the time this year. This is reason to be skeptical but not reason to crucify Brewster yet. He has clearly made mistakes this year, but the important thing to look for is will he get better in year 2? We can accept rookie mistakes because we assume that a rookie (or freshman) will get better with experience. Will Brewster? Time will tell.

2 - We've Seen This Before

This goes both ways, but mostly for gopher fans we have seen a new coach struggle in year 1, then continue to struggle in the following years. Maroon kool aid drinkers will say Mack Brown, Barry Alvarez, Kirk Ferenz, Ron Zook etc all struggled mightily their first seasons but eventually won. Patrick Reusse and friends will point to Jim Wacker and John Gutekunst as former gopher coaches who failed for years and years. Again, reason to be skeptical but we won't know for a few years.

3 - Square Peg, Round Hole

We are team with players recruited to RUN, RUN, RUN. Brewster comes in with his spread offense and talent-challenged defense. Mason was able to hide his defense with a ball control offense. Brewster has a freshman QB and a team that passes more than a year ago, which greatly exposed this defense. Will it always be like this or will the right players make both sides of the ball more competitive and enjoyable to watch? Time will tell.

Be skeptical folks, but be patient. I am not guaranteeing future Rose Bowl success because of Brewster's enthusiasm but I am going on the record as saying I think he is doing things the right way and setting us up for future success. If the gophers are still terrible after a few Brewster recruiting classes, I will be the first in line to say I was wrong.

The real question is will Reusse admit he was wrong if Brewster is in fact successful? Personally, I doubt it.


Erik said...

Please kill that apostrophe. "Reason" doesn't possess anything.

/grammar Nazi

PJS said...

I think you are dead on in the reasons you list to be skeptical. But I also agree with Reusse criticism of the way Brewster handled public relations upon taking the job.

Compare what Brewster was saying to what Tubby is/was saying. Tubby isn't running aroudn and promising anything other than his kids will bust their asses this season.

Brewster could have been fiery and optimistic about the future without calling this a rebuilding year and without going completely off the wall and suggesting this team was Rose Bowl material.

It's the trust factor, I think, PR is driving at when he heckles Brewster's preseason remarks. Brewster has played the expectations game miserably

Tom said...

thanks, I'm not sure why I apostrophed that reason.

Anonymous said...

Gopher football is a culture of losing....we expect...some embrace it...that's why Brewster talks about championships.