January 17th is a date known for many significant events…
- 1595 – Henry IV of France declares war on Spain
- 1605 – First publication of Don Quixote
- 1899 – Al Capone was born
- 1917 – the
USbuys the Virgin Islands from for $25 million Denmark
- 1949 – the first sitcom, The Goldbergs, airs on US television
- 1971 – Kid Rock was born
- 1982 – "Cold Sunday" in the US saw temperatures fall to their lowest levels in over 100 years in numerous cities (thank god for global warming)
- 1991 – Operation Desert Storm begins
But that date will forever be remember by Gopher fans as the day Athletic Director Joel Maturi officially hired his new head football coach, Tim Brewster.
We are 17 months removed from his first press conference and some Brewster quotes from that day are still being parsed and debated by fans, bloggers and message board enthusiasts. I’ve take my shot at analyzing and ending the conversation (not a goal actually attainable) but ultimately I wonder why it even matters?
There really are two things that matter in college football.
1- actually winning
2- the perception of moving in the right direction
I know that everyone will tell me that really winning is the only thing that matters. And maybe at certain schools that is true, but not necessarily at the University of Minnesota. One could argue that Glen Mason was the third best coach in the storied history of the Gophers (Murray Warmath and Bernie Bierman are clearly top 2). Mason did produce the highest win % since Bierman. But winning games and going to mid-level bowls was not enough to keep his job as it was determined that the program wasn’t really moving forward.
I’m putting words behind the actions of Maturi but I think it is safe to assume that the program had plateaued and the administration or influential alumni believed we needed a new leader to move forward.
This brings us back to January 17th, 2007 and the initial press conference by Tim Brewster, who boldly proclaimed he was not only creating Gopher Nation but planning not take us to Pasadena and stated things like…
"My expectations from day one are going to be to win the Big Ten Championship. That’s what the seniors deserve and what everybody deserves."
“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. Glen Mason did an excellent job at this university and coached these kids well. They’ve won a lot of games. They’re not void of talent, so 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."
These quotes created quite a stir and have been the root of controversy and debate ever since.
One side wonders how we ever hired this lunatic who thought we actually had the talent to win the Big Ten in 2007.Either he was crazy or he was a poor judge of talent and crazy. As his team marched on to a 1-11 season the fuel was added to the fire of this groups’ ire.
The other side says “C’mon guys he didn’t REALLY mean he could win this year.” What coach in his right mind is going to give up on a season. Of course he was just encouraging his troops and showing them that he had confidence in them. Ultimately he just meant that winning the Big Ten (as opposed to ‘earning’ a mediocre bowl bid) is the goal each and ever year.
After initially defending the comments, I say WHO CARES! Whether or not he thought the Gophers were going to be Big Ten Champs in 2008 is completely meaningless. There are two things that matter. His record and the perception that he’s moving the program forward. In year 1, he failed miserably in the win/loss department. But he did hit a home run in the world of recruiting which has Gopher Nation buzzing about being able to field a team with Big Ten talent throughout the roster.
You may say, his words don’t exactly matter, what irks Gopher fans is that his rhetoric is over the top and coming off as crazy which won’t get you anywhere. You may be correct to a degree. He clearly overstated things when he was in the moment of being paraded as a new head coach. But that same enthusiasm and goal oriented rhetoric is precisely the reason he was able to bring in a top 20 recruiting class which happened to be the best this program has seen in decades.
Was his first season a success? Absolutely not, but I would argue it wasn’t a total loss. Bringing in a top 20 class when your team finished 1-11 is incredible. 2007 was a disaster but he has given hope for a sustainable turnaround. Eventually he will have to prove he is more than a recruiter and a coach capable of winning games and take this program to a new level of competitiveness. Through one season he is completing 50% of his passes.
But really does the fact that he was excited and was the first person to voice that we should have higher goals really that big of a deal? His team struggled on the field and there has to be improvement this in 2008, but what he said at his initial press conference or even all through his first spring is completely irrelevant to the 2008 season. Can we please move on?
Inspiration for this post
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Footballnews - 247