Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What To Do with Tim Brewster

I think we've said our piece about losing Eric Decker and what it's going to do to the offense. My hope here is that somebody- ANYBODY- grabs this opportunity Tom Brady-style (and by that I don't mean how he grabs super models. I mean, how many moons ago when he grabbed the starting QB job in New England when Drew Bledsoe was hurt and never gave it back. But hey if any of our guys can also plow through super models like Brady, more power to them) and fills the immense void left behind by Decker. Since the spring game Jer and I have been adamant about the talent at wide receiver. We've blamed Weber and the play-calling for them being so bad so far, but at this point, I'm ready to admit it could just be that we were wrong, and these guys either aren't that talented, or are just not ready to step up and play in the Big Ten. Starting Saturday we'll get to find out.

But what I want to discuss today is our head coach, Tim Brewster, and what to do with him. Fire him? Keep him? Give him an extension (as crazy as that sounds right now, just bare with me. Please)? The short answer on what to do with him is: nothing. Not this season, not this off-season, not until the end of next season.

The long answer? Well...the Pioneer Press has a story up that covers the different sides of the "long answer" pretty well. In it Gophers AD Joel Maturi says he will wait until after the season to evaluate Brewster's performance- regardless of whether they don't win another game, or if the Gophers roll off three wins in a row and play well against Iowa.

"In the end, when you're the head football coach at the University of Minnesota, you have to win," Maturi said. "I'm going to be patient with a first-time collegiate head coach. It might be to the chagrin of some, but at the same time I believe I know the learning curve. I do believe that he is a better head coach today than he was yesterday."

Before we get to that last sentence, let me say this first: I'm glad he's waiting until after the season to figure this out. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, in the third year of a five year deal Brewster should not get fired, but he sure as hell shouldn't get a contract extension either. He should be brought back for a fourth season, when he will have an entire roster of kids he recruited, and see what happens. I think we'll see Maturi do this as much because he's being prudent as he is because he's trying to save money. Unless the bottom COMPLETELY falls out of this season and there's player and fan revolt (which, if we lose the last four games isn't out of the realm of possibility), Maturi is not going to fire Brewster with two years remaining on his contract and then have to go out and pay a bigger name at least a million or two a season. It's not going to happen unless he absolutely, positively has to.

And the financial aspect aside, he shouldn't. Brewster, and every coach, deserves four full years with a team made up entirely of his own recruits. He is then coaching on his own merits and not riding the work of someone else. After the debacle at Washington, I'm not saying Ty Willingam has was the right choice long term at Notre Dame, but he deserved a fourth year there. Instead, he was canned after only three years, and then Charlie Weis came in and went to a BCS bowl with a team comprised almost entirely of Ty's kids. Like Ty, The Zooker Ron Zook is proving he's not cut out to be a big-time college coach either, but like Ty, he was fired after only three seasons at Florida, only to watch another coach come in and win with his kids.

Since that time, that "other coach" Urban Meyer has proven in The Swamp that he can win with his, or anyone's, recruits. Ol' Charlie Weis? Yeah not so much. The Irish are a good example of both why you don't fire a coach- or give him an coach an extension- too soon. Eight games- I repeat EIGHT GAMES- into his first season at Notre Dame (with Ty's kids!!!) Notre Dame gave Charlie Weis a 10 year extension. It looks absolutely insane now, and at the time, only less slightly. Eight games into his first season Weis had the Irish on track for their first big-time bowl game since Bob Davie was coach in 2001, and there were "rumors" speading that Weis could flee South Bend for the NFL if he wasn't taken care of. Panicking on the cusp of their first successful season in five whole years, the good folks running Notre Dame gave Charlie a 10 year extension. The Irish indeed went to the Fiesta Bowl that year, where they were thumped by AJ Hawk's hair and Ohio State. The next season they went to the Sugar Bowl and were thumped by LSU. Last year, they played in the prestigious Hawaii Bowl where they were able to defeat Hawaii- it might be the signature win for the Weis Era.

The lesson here is not to fire coaches' or lock them up too early, and before you say "why would ANYONE even think of locking up Tim Brewster after this season?!?!" well, consider that in the same PP article Gophers broadcaster and all-time leading rusher Darrell Thompson believes that if the Minnesota wins 7 games and don't lose 55-0 to Iowa, Brewster should get an extension. No really, he says that. Another former Gopher believes Brewster shouldn't even have to wait until the end of the season for his extension.

"They should almost do something now," former Gophers player Gary Hohman said. "He's going into recruiting season, and people want to know who they're going to play for. It's the nature of the business. You have to have some kind of security for the kids coming in."

With all due respect to Thompson and Hohman- are you F*%&^ING KIDDING ME?!?

As Marcus Fuller goes onto write in the story, in his three years at Minnesota Brewster is 0-8 in trophy games and has lost all seven games to ranked opponents. His signature win so far he gets a signature win, let me know. Honestly, what has Brewster done thus far? His record is 5-16 in the Big Ten and 14-21 overall. And you're worried about him getting away from you, or that he doesn't have enough job security to recruit well enough? The man still has two more years remaining on his contract. I can see that argument as we're nearing the end of year five, or even year four, but year three?

Speaking of recruiting, Maturi mentions how well Brewster's recruited so far saying, and I quote, "We don't have a (Laurence) Maroney or (Marion) Barber or any very high-profile kids, but I think we have a good mix." That's like saying that despite not winning a trophy game or defeating one single top 25 opponent, Brewster's doing well. Oh wait, we've already said that too. And even if you wanted to point to his recruiting efforts as a plus, you can't because Brewster is SO hesistant to play them. Weber, Decker, Tow-Arnett (all seven of them), Lee Campbell, Nate Triplett, and Garrett Brown are all key members of the team (or are being given a TON of playing time) and ALL of them were recruited by Glen Mason.

It's especially puzzling and frustrating on offense, where Brewster has all of these so-called decorated recruits, yet they're either not performing (pick a running back or an offensive linemen. Any of them) or are not being given a chance, be it at receiver (anyone not named Decker), or quarterback (we may have discussed this a little bit already). I don't care what the rankings say, but when you get into actual games and the kids you recruited either can't get into the game or you seem REALLY scared to let them, then I wouldn't call you a good recruiter. It's one thing not to trust or use someone else's kids when you take over a program, but to feel that way about so many of your own?

Brewster shouldn't be extended or fired regardless of how well or how poorly the team plays in the final four games. Considering he has two years left on his contract, that decision shouldn't even have to come until this time next year at the earliest.

So let's take the next four games and really evaluate what Brewster can or cannot do. As poorly as we've played the last two weeks, we've still got a chance to go bowling, and if we can somehow pull off three wins at home, we could even not go to a bowl in Detroit, which would obviously be awesome. The season is far from over yet, and with Decker out, Brewster's skill position recruits will be forced into action, and we'll see whether they really are as talented as he says (and as Jer and I think) or not. While he won't hand over the reigns outright to Gray just yet, I was happy to read this week that Brewster's going to have Gray and Weber alternate series. It's not the benching Weber deserves or that I've been calling for for almost a month, but it's a step in the right direction.

Hopefully Brewster and the team can take a few more of those steps in the right direction and get us to a bowl game, and then this time next year, maybe then we can talk about what to do with Tim Brewster. Thanks to his prudence, and the school's budget, let's hope Maturi can stick to that plan.

No comments: