Monday, August 31, 2009

Saturday Can't Come Soon Enough!

It's here. It's finally, finally here! Yep, it's out first official game week of the 2009 Minnesota Gophers football season. Finally we can talk about an actual, real, live game to be played this Saturday. 12 noon on The Deuce. If you're planning to see the game in person, you apparently won't have a problem finding tickets. The Maroon and Gold takes on a rebuilding Syracuse team with a new coach and a quarterback who hasn't played organized football in four seasons. There's a LOT of questions to be answered from both sides, like "can I possibly hate Greg Paulus as a QB at Syracuse as I did as a point guard at Duke?" The answer is probably not, since there's few people I hate more in sports than white point guards at Duke (see Bobby Hurley, Wojo, Doug Collins' kid, and any others I'm forgetting) but I'm open to the possibility.

We'll give you more preview and notes than you can shake a stick at in the coming days and hours leading up until kickoff. Brian Bennett is the Big East blogger for ESPN.com, and has therefore a ton of coverage on Syracuse. If you're looking for some background before we give it to you, that's as good a place as any to start.

So for all the Gopher football fanatics out there, let's dive into all the Gopher coverage in the local dailies...ok that didn't take long. Look, I know this town bleeds purple and gold, and that even when we don't have a future-hall-of-fame quarterback who's just gunslingin' his way into shape and loves to play football (and manipulate the media and make up stories about his daughter wanting him to play one last time so he can skip training camp and get as much attention poured on himself as humanly possibly), but we're lacking Gopher football coverage here. Or am I expecting too much? Does not everyone in the Twin Cities share the same passion for Gopher football that Jer and I do? I stopped reading the Favre coverage a long time ago, and at this point am only paying attention The Purple on gamedays, which makes it all the more frustrating when there's so little coverage of Gopher football.

Anyway, the Strib has a story from yesterday about the new stadium written by someone named Jenna Ross. Gopher beatwriter and "blogger" Kent Youngblood? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Bubkis. On the Monday of game week. Keep up the good work there Ken. Hope you don't wonder why newspapers are dying a slow and painful death. There's also an article with a general college football preview which focuses on Bloomington Jefferson graduate and new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. Quick, if you're a college football fan in this state, raise your hand if you give two $*%&s about Kiffin and the fact he went to high school in Bloomington? Anyone? Didn't think so, but way to try and glean the local angle for the sake of gleaning the local angle.

The Pioneer Press has an actual, current, up-to-date story from Marcus Fuller in today's paper about the Gophs' quarterbacks. Sure, there's nothing that hasn't been covered here and everywhere else all summer long, but at least Fuller and the PP are trying. It's the ol' basic "Weber is the starter until he gets hurt or really, really sucks" angle (Like when he throws 3 picks in a controlled scrimmage. Oh wait). The story that's of more interest to me is from the weekend edition where Fuller muses about whether Brewster is the right man for the job here longterm. Fuller is playing the angle of Brewster not having a contract extension yet and whether he should get one.

First, head coaches' contracts are pretty much worthless. Regardless of what they say and what they tell the media and fans and boosters, they're all year to year. Unless you're in one of the top 15-20 programs in the country, your coach is there until he can find a better job, and then he's gone. While on one hand I guess I can't blame Brewster for wanting the best job he can get (when the Gophs started 7-1 last year he was being mentioned as a candidate for every available opening), it'd also be nice for him to finish what he starts and bring us the trip to Pasadena he's been promising. The guy is a good football coach, but also a salesman. I love the job he's doing so far and believe he knows what he's doing, but I don't always believe what comes out of his mouth. Ok, maybe that's a little harsh, but I take what he says with a grain of salt. He's an eternal optimist (at least publicly) and you don't really learn much of anything from interviews with him except that he loves every player on his team, they're all the best, and they're all going to be awesome. Some candor and substance would be appreciated from time to time, but this is Brew's program right now and he's trying to build it his way.

While I don't always agree with his tactics, I'm happy with the job he's doing, but also feel like he hasn't earned an extension just yet. Barring a major improvement in a lot of areas, I don't think the 7-8 win season we're expecting (which would once again put them anywhere from fifth-seventh in the conference) wouldn't warrant a contract extension if I were Joel Maturi. But assuming Brew gets us another seven or eight wins in 2009, then 2010 is the make or break year- or at least it should be. IF Brew can come through this year, then 2010 shapes up for him to have a veteran roster which returns a ton of talent, most or all of which he'll have recruited. If he gets to 9 or 10 wins and a New Year's Day bowl, then that definitely is worthy of a new, richer contract for 2011 and beyond.

Problem is, IF all of that happens, I don't think Brewster will be around to sign that extension. Call me a cynic (I prefer "realist"), but IF everything falls into place for The U the next two seasons I think Brewster will take The Next Great Job. He wasn't doing much to squash the job rumors that started popping up midway through last season before things fell apart, and I think he'll use this as a stepping stone to a better job if he can, much like Glen Mason always wanted to do. I'm not naive enough to have shock and outrage that Brewster would have the audacity to leave Minnesota for a better job, I just hope that IF it happens, the next guy we hire will be the last one for a long time. I've said it before and will say it again- in the college football landscape, Minnesota will never be Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State. I get that, and I'm ok with that. But I still aspire to be in that next tier with Wisconsin and Iowa, who are two of the top 20 or so programs in the country, and are places that are destinations for head coaches, not stop-overs on their way up the ladder. Sure, Ferentz could leave for the NFL at any time (a reality that EVERY school could conceivably face), but I don't see him ever leaving for another college job. Same for Bielma at Wisconsin- that is if he survives long enough. Barry Alvarez built the program in the 1990's and retired to become the AD. There's only a handful of jobs in the country better than the head coach of the Badgers because of the stadium and traditions Alvarez built.

Maybe I'm crazy and I AM naive for believing Minnesota could some day be in that same class with our arch nemesis the Badgers and Hawkeyes. We've got the gorgeous, brand new stadium in the most underrated city in the country, and if we can ever get a consistent winner here the fans will come and stay. Hopefully 2009 is another step for Brewster, and whoever else follows him, to build the consistent winner we've always wanted that can turn the Gophers into a college football destination. It starts in five days at Syrause and I CAN'T WAIT!

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Seriously, what's the story with Youngblood? He's usually at least a once a day guy.