Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A long, winding losing road

Barely winning one game this season undoubtedly isn't what Tim Brewster envisioned in his wildest dreams upon taking the Minnesota Gophers football job earlier this year.

"It hurts. It really hurts," the first-year coach recently bemoaned.

I like the guy. He is a personable as the late Jim Wacker. Unfortunately, he is traveling that same long, winding losing road as Glen Mason's predecessor.

The media openly ridiculed Wacker because he would say some outlandish things, which overshadowed the fact that he was a decent coach who was over his head. He consistently made halftime adjustments, especially on offense. But too often than not, the Gophers were too far down on the scoreboard to mount any form of meaningful comeback.

It is way too soon to judge whether Brewster can coach or not. A 1-and-9 overall mark doesn't positively stand up to the unrealistic expectations of most observers-slash-coaching critics.

After all, this is Minnesota, who have been among the Big Ten's overrans for decades now.

His defense is totally over matched. After having felt that they had to score each time on the field, Brewster's offense has peaked to non-existent status.

A fellow columnist asked me last evening would Mason have done any better. Certainly -- these are his players. Maybe a couple more wins here and there. The road would not be as long but it still would be a losing one.

Perhaps Brewster should have not came on so strong, boldly proclaiming "Gopher Nation" like Columbus supposedly discovered America, in the months leading up to this season. Given the fact that I was just coming out of kindergarten the last time Minnesota played in the Rose Bowl, might have given the new coach pause before he went out and planted Pasadena sod on the practice field as motivation fodder.

More coaching and less gardening certainly is in order here. Brewster's field of dreams has become a Freddy Krueger special.

He and his staff has its work cut out for them. With Iowa and Wisconsin still remaining on the schedule, any improvement in the win column is extremely doubtful at best, and downright impossible at its worst. He can ill afford another listless effort as displayed by his team during last Saturday's homecoming loss to Illinois. When you allow 34 points and 597 total yards in the first half alone, the Gophers gave a new meaning for the word 'sorry.'

Is Brewster getting through to his players? Have they tuned his evangelistic-like pre-game talks to another channel in their minds? Do the players need less fire-and-brimstone and more Tackling 101? No, yes and yes.

"It is a painful process," says Brewster, speaking on rebuilding, not offering a coherent answer to the aforementioned questions.

Minnesota may have 10,000 lakes but the state don't have speed, something the Gophers must find and bring on board. Such states as Texas, Louisiana and Florida does, and U-M must get a strong recruiting foothold in those speed hot spots.

Although I believe he needs at least three years, with the school building a new stadium, set to open in a couple of years, Brewster's "Gopher Nation" might be short lived.

"We are very confident in our ability to recruit and get the players we need to have," the U-M head coach says confidently. "We will see our better day. The U of M will be great again."

If not, I'm afraid Brewster soon will find himself exiled from his nation to a land far, far away: 'Fired Coaches Island.'

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