Saturday, May 29, 2010

The poor get poorer...

Well folks... Jeffrick said it so eloquently over text message to me... FAAAACK!!!

As I sit on my deck on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend I decided to check the old Twitter feed on my Blackberry, where I read this from The Daily Gopher...
"Sam Maresh no longer a Gopher"
Stomach punch.

According to the Strib:
"Sam Maresh has one more hurdle to clear in his quest to play Division I football. Maresh, the highly-recruited linebacker from Champlin Park High School who committed to the University of Minnesota in 2007, has left the school because of academic issues.
He will take classes at Anoka-Ramsey Junior College this summer, then attend a junior college this fall."
You should go ahead and read the articles because I don't have the wherewithal to rehash it on this holiday weekend, but needless to say, this is another huge blow to a program that simply could NOT afford anymore.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is Brewster's Coaching Seat the Hottest in the BIg Ten?

Earlier in the week Jermo touched on what Tim Brewster will have to do to keep his job as Minnesota's football coach beyond 2010. While I wish I could argue against Jermo's beliefs that another six win regular season and a win in a crappy bowl game is all Brew will have to do to be here in 2011, I simply can't, especially with Joel Maturi in charge.

So while Brew's coaching hot seat is pretty warm heading into 2010, it's by no means the warmest in the conference. Just for fun (like a man wearing stretchy pants in his room), let's rank the coaching hot seats around the Big Ten in reverse order and see where Brewster shakes out:

A Cool, Comfortable Easy Chair

Tough to rank these five in any order, as all of their jobs are extremely safe. Still...

11. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Fitz's job is the most secure in all of the Big Ten because he's been the most successful coach in Wildcats' history at a school with little support and even less expectations. Honestly, he could miss a bowl game for the next five years and no one at the school would even fathom getting rid of him.

10. Danny Hope, Purdue
While Purdue has a larger fan base and expectations than Northwestern, they still don't compare to some other schools in the conference. Despite missing a bowl game in his first season, Hope's team was competitive and even exciting, and therefore he's going to get a few more years to get the Boilermakers "back on track" if you will (and I will).

9. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Hawkeye fans LOVE Ferentz, but because of the expectations at Iowa, it wouldn't take more than two "down" seasons for Kirk's seat to start getting toasty. Heck, with the expectations going into this season, if they finish anywhere but first or second you might hear a few grumbles.

8. Joe Paterno, Penn State
Whenever JoePa decides to finally retire, he'll leave as the winningest coach in Division 1 history. With the way the past few seasons have gone, Nittany Lion fans will be thrilled to let him stay as long as he wants. The team is back to competing for conference titles every year, and while everyone knows Paterno long ago started delegating most of his coaching duties to his fine staff, it's working well and everyone's on-board. The only reason I put JoePa here is because if you remember back only five or six years ago when Penn State wasn't winning, the folks in Happy Valley weren't so happy and were ready to push Paterno out the door to retirement as fast as they could. A down year this season (possible with all the losses on defense and QB) and next would be enough for the fans to start clamoring for him to step down.

7. Jim Tressel, Ohio State
All the mighty Sweater Vest has done this century at OSU is win a national title, win or share the last six Big Ten titles, and continually beat the bejeesus out of arch-rival Michigan. At 99% of the schools in the country, they'd be naming streets after Tressel and handing him a blank check. But of course OSU expects more. After losing three straight BCS Bowl games (including two national title game drubbings in 2006 and 2007) and another regular season loss to USC AND a shocking upset to Purdue last year, a sizeable amount of Buckeye fans were lighting up message boards and websites wondering if Tressel was the right guy for the job. Of course the Bucks then ripped off a big winning streak to once again win the conference title and then avenged their previous BCS bowl game losses by handling Oregon in impressive fashion.

For now the folks in Columbus are satisfied, but with a loaded 2010 team that will be ranked in the top 3 in the country to start the season, anything less than another Big Ten title and AT LEAST another BCS bowl game win (if not the BCS National Championship), the questioning will begin again. As a Gopher fan it seems insane to me, as I would take any ONE of Tressel's Big Ten title seasons and take him as our coach for life. But Ohio State is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to expectations.

We're Getting Warmer

6. Bret Bielma, Wisconsin
Heading into 2009 most Badger fans seemed less than thrilled with Bielma's tenure. Considering he played at Iowa I'm not sure what they expected (zing!), but Bielma quieted his critics with 10 wins, including a bowl victory over Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. Bucky Badger enters this season in just everybody preseason top 10, and if Wisconsin doesn't finish the season there- or at least close to it- his critics in Madison will start up again.

5. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Dantonio has done a pretty good job of rebuilding the Spartans in his short time there, but with a disappointing 2009 season coupled with so many player suspensions for the "frat boy fights", he really needs a top 5 finish in the Big Ten in 2010. Not saying he's going to get canned if he doesn't, but his seat will start getting awfully warm heading into 2011.

Is it Me, or Is It Hot in Here?

4. Tim Brewster, Minnesota
If it were me as AD, Brew would need 7 wins this season to keep his job. He's entering his fourth season with a roster full of his own recruits, and all he has to show for it is a string of players running afoul of the law, an 0-3 bowl record, 0-9 in trophy games, and he's yet to beat a team ranked in the top 25. But as long as Joel Maturi continues to run the U's athletic department, well, Brewster could win four games and still keep his job. Or maybe get another contract extension. Who knows?

3. Bill Lynch, Indiana
It's looking like bowl game or bust for Lynch, who with a returning QB and some offensive talent around him, has a pretty good shot at remaining in Bloomington. Still, it's Indiana so you never know.

2. Ron Zook, Illinois
If Zook were at a lot of other schools he wouldn't even have a job, but for some reason, the Illini wanted to give him one more shot at it. The Zooker definitely needs to go bowling to keep his job, but I wonder if HOW they qualify for a bowl doesn't matter too? Like if they go limping into a bowl game, would he still get canned? We're about to find out.

1. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
We finish the list with the man on the hottest seat not just in the Big Ten but in the country. Things have not gone as planned on or off the field for Rodriguez or fans and alumni of the Maize and Blue as he enters his third season. I'm still of the belief that if he would get four years he would win there and start winning big, but he's not getting a fourth year unless he wins big in 2010. What does "winning big" mean? I have no idea, and considering how many differing opinions you read out there, I'm not sure anyone else does either. In my opinion to keep his job he needs to beat Notre Dame, win at least eight regular season games and get them back to a New Year's Day Bowl. But considering how much he's disliked in Ann Arbor right now, even that might not be enough.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hot Seats

Rittenberg wrote this morning about coaching hot seats as did a list of how "hot" of a seat every coach in college football is sitting on.

On a 0-5 scale (0= coach is untouchable, 5= the seat is burning) Brewster gets a rating of 4 along with Bill Lynch of Indiana.  According to CBS Sports, there are only 7 other coaches in all of college football whose jobs are in more jeopardy than Brewster's... and TWO of them are from the Big Ten (RichRod & Zooker).

With 4 Big Ten coaches in the top 10 of this list, Rittenberg points out the obvious:
"It has been three years since a Big Ten head coach was fired, as Michigan State's John L. Smith and Minnesota's Glen Mason got pink-slipped before the 2007 season (Michigan's Lloyd Carr "retired" after the 2007 campaign). But there's a good chance we'll see some movement in November or December."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What could happen?

Here are some thoughts on the upcoming Gopher season and what might happen given some combination of wins/losses.

6 wins (Mid Tenn State, SDSU, No Illinois, NWestern, Purdue, Illinois)
3-1 in the non-con (with the obvious loss to USC) and 3-3 in the Big Ten.  These are three Big Ten teams that the Gophers, based on what we know today, SHOULD beat.  This record would clearly earn the Gophers a bowl bid, but once again to a lower tier game.  If the team wins 6, and the games I've mentioned here are the one's they win, Tim Brewster will be playing for his job in a late December bowl game.  Win that game and he stays, lose it, and he's gone.

6 wins (Mid Tenn State, SDSU, No Illinois, NWestern, Purdue & Wisky OR Iowa)
If Tim Brewster's squad wins 6 games this season and he wins one of the rivalry games, his job is safe no matter what happens in whatever low-tier bowl game they go to.

5 wins (Iowa & Wisky, Mid Tenn State, SDSU, No Illinois)
If Tim Brewster misses a bowl game, but beats both Iowa and Wisconsin, his job is safe.  The schedule is difficult enough that the bar might be set low and he might be able to survive missing a bowl game... but he would HAVE to exercise both of the rivalry game demons.  A five win season can't really be called a success... but winning both rivalry games in one season can't exactly be called a failure.

4 wins
The only way Tim Brewster is around following a 4-win season is if those wins are over 4 of the 5 best teams on the schedule: USC, Wisconsin, PSU, OSU & Iowa.

3 wins or less
Brewster is gone.  In fact, if Brewster doesn't come out of the non-con schedule with a 3-1 record (unless one of those wins is somehow against USC), his job might be in jeopardy before he even hits the conference season.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Phil Steele Announces His 2010 Preseason All-Big Ten Teams

As Rittenberg notes in his blog, college football guru Phil Steele has released his 2010 preseason All-Big Ten teams. Just in case you don't know, Steele publishes a college football preview magazine every year that is full of more stats and information than my belly was the one and only time I was able to eat two Chipotle burritos in one sitting. Seriously. It's just a staggering amount of information. I bought last year's Big Ten preview and will be snatching it off a newstand (ok, honestly, who buys from a newstand? I just like the word, but I'll be buying mine from B&N or Borders or somewhere like that) when it comes out June 8th.

In anticipation of this monumental college football day, Steele releases his all-conference teams. And not just a first or second team like some lazy writers- oh no, Phil releases first through fourth team. He knows who the backup kicker for Idaho State is let alone who the starting quarterback for your Minnesota Golden Gophers, so the man's word is trusted all over the college football world.

Which, for your aforemention Maroon and Gold, might not be such a good thing. The reason?

Well let's just say you could probably find more answers on last night's Lost finale than Gophers on Steele's four team. There's no Gophs on his first team All-Big Ten. Or his second team. Or his third. There ARE three Gophs on his fourth team however: G Matt Carufel (no really), S Kim Royston (assuming his injury heals for the start of the season), and KR/PR Troy Stoudermire.

And that's it.

But at least there were other teams with as few players as Minnesota had right? Well, do you know how many other Big Ten teams had three or less players named on Mr. Steele's four preseason All-Big Ten teams?

Um, zero. That's right, even Indiana had more guys than us with four, including one 1st team member (the dirty, hated Hawkeyes led everyone with 19 selections. Wisconsin had 16. Can't wait for those trophy games!).

So in a season where Tim Brewster will be coaching for his job he has, in the esteemed personal opinion of one Mr. Phil Steele, not a single first, second, or third team All-Big Ten player. Not one. And I don't think Steele is going to be the only college football pundit who believes this. As a matter of fact, I'm betting you'll see nary a Gopher named preseason 1st or 2nd team in any national website, magazine, or TV show in the country.

Now are these predictions a 100% accurate measuer of who's going to be good? Of course not. Guys come from way off the radar every year, like Iowa's Adrian Clayborn last year or Minnesota's very own Willie VanDeSteeg in 2008. It can happen. But it's one thing to have a first or second team selection and a half dozen guys sprinkled across the four teams, where you know you're going to have some solid players and then hope that some others step up. It's quite another for Coach Brew to have zero guys that a really smart, well-versed college football guy believes are worthy of being pre-season first, second, or third team.

What it means is that to keep his job and get more than the six wins he achieved last year, Brewster is going to have to do not only the best coaching job of his time at Minnesota, but perhaps the best of his life in what looks to be the toughest Big Ten conference in years. And if Phil Steele is right, the Gophers will begin 2010 looking up at everybody else.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Well We Have that Going For Us, Which is Nice...

Howdy. Hope you've got your air conditioner out of storage, since we're expecting 90+ degrees here in Minnesota starting Sunday. Like the weather, Gopher news is starting to really heat up too...ok not so much, but we did get some much needed good news around our beloved football program:

Graduation rates are up!

Ok so it doesn't fix our offensive woes or Brewster's problems keeping his kids off the police blotter, but at least this is something good to talk about. As Myron Medcalf notes in the Strib, the U's football program achieved record gains in the NCAA's 2009 Academic Progress Report. I know some people still love the idea that Div 1 football players are "student athletes" but let's face it: this is a business. The U and every other D1 football program really only care about winning games and meeting whatever minimum graduation requirements they have to.

Well with this new-fangled APR, if teams don't meet the minimum standards, like the U did not in 2008, it means a loss of scholarships, and obviously at this point in Brewster's tenure here, we need all the scholarship players we can get.

Check the link for Medcalf's article and more information on the vast improvements the team made academically, but the bottom line for football fans is that we'll get some scholarships back, and whatever your thoughts on what Brewster has done at Minnesota, this is definitely an improvement we needed.

Now if he can just work on the on-field winning and off-field trouble-makers, we'll be in even better shape.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You'd Better Sit Down Before You Read This

So I haven't written here in awhile, but this one was so big and so shocking and just so monumentous (pretty sure I made that word up...yep, spell check doesn't recognize it so yeah, that just happened) that I had to post here.

You're not going to believe this, but the Gophers announced today who their starting quarterback is going to be. Who is it? Who could it be? Seriously you'll never get it, not ever. It is...

Adam Weber!

I know right? Aren't you glad I made you sit down before you read this? I mean the shock of it could have knocked you out cold. I mean wow. Adam Weber! I just never thought it would happen. This rough and tumble kid from out of nowhere comes into camp and wins the starting job! What a story!

It's so great that Coach Tim Brewster is taking a whole new approach to things in 2010 and that he's ready to wipe the slate clean and replace the guy who last year "led" the worst offense in the Big Ten in 2009 scoring, total offense, and 3rd down percentage and he himself ranked dead last in passing efficiency...

...Oh that's right, Adam Weber IS that same guy from 2009. We said from the moment the words "quarterback competition" came out of Brewster's mouth that it was bullcrap and Weber would win the job regardless of what happened (like oh, I don't know, another abysmal spring game performance). And sure enough, he was handed a job that in reality he never really lost.

So Adam Weber will be our starting quarterback for the fourth straight season, and barring new NCAA eligibility rules, it will be his last. We could say the same for Brewster. But that's the one silver lining of the 2010 Gopher football season: if Brewster doesn't FINALLY start walking the walk, we'll get a new coach in here (Kevin Sumlin or Mike Leach please!) who will. And no matter who is coaching, we WILL have a quarterback competition for 2011, and the winner will NOT be Adam Weber. Sounds good to me!