Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Taking Time Out To Rip Maturi

On Wednesday, January 17, 2006, University of Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi put another notch in his string of poor decisions when he introduced his solution to the Gopher football team's decades long malaise, former Denver Broncos' tight ends coach Tim Brewster.

In a season when the Gophers' football program needed the type of boost that only the hiring of a recognized name would serve, Maturi missed the boat--and he wasn't even close. As Maturi acknowledged during his introductory press conference, "even I didn't know who Tim Brewster was when his name was first brought up." Huh?

How is this possible? How is it even conceivable that Maturi hired a no-name to rejuvenate the fan base in time for the opening of the new, and poorly planned, stadium in 2009?

It's possible, let alone conceivable, because it is how business is conducted these days in the University of Minnesota athletic department when it comes to the revenue-generating sports--sports that only merit continuation if they show a profit. Based on the early indications, there is little reason to expect the Gophers' football team to contribute positively to that bottom line.

Among the nuggets tossed out by Maturi at the press conference, in addition to his admission that he did not even know who Brewster was when the name was first proposed by someone within his group of unofficial advisors, was that it was important to make sure that Brewster was the kind of guy that fit with Minnesota. Maturi was Zygi like in lauding Brewster as a "good person" and a person with "character." And Maturi claimed that he even asked the groundskeepers at Mile High Stadium about Brewster's character and received glowing reports.

Of course, there really has never been any reason for Brewster to be haughty, given that he has yet to accomplish much of anything in his chosen profession. Nevertheless, Maturi might have asked someone other than a member of the coaching inner-cirlce why Brewster left Texas or why Brewster left an assistant head coaching position in San Diego to take a tight end coaching position in Denver. But Maturi, instead, went to those who would offer the glowing reports that Maturi hoped to be able to relate to the Gophers' dwindling fan base to help explain away a signing that appears motivated more by financial considerations and rejection of Maturi's program by other would-be candidates than anything else.

One of those whose opinion Maturi chose to solicit was Brewster himself. In Glen Masonlike fashion, Brewster consistently referred to his ability to recruit--citing his recruitment of Vince Young (all the way from Houston) while at Tezas--and his general abilities.

When Brewster wasn't lauding himself, he was busy repeating the themes drilled into him by Maturi and his coterie of advisors. "We're going to recruit this state. I'm going to recruit this state. That's my top priority. Making sure that Minnesota kids understand why this is the place for them to play football. That's my priority." As an after-thought, apparently aware that he had just committed to a recruiting class of roughly seven players a season, Brewster added that he would "recruit the rest of the country as well."

Look out rest of country.

When asked why he left a good job in San Diego for a fairly meaningless job with Denver, Brewster trotted out another clearly rehearsed line contending that the move was one made in the pursuit of "knowledge." "It's about learning, knowledge," Brewster claimed. "I got the call from Shanahan and I couldn't turn it down." Why, precisely, that was the case seems unlikely to be solely about learning, particularly at this stage of Brewster's career.

When another reporter asked Brewster what type of offense he intended to run, the response was chilling. "Tough. Determined. Hard-working," came the reply. "Our kids are going to work hard, play with passion, and do it the right way." Did Brewster think he was auditioning for a vacancy with the Twins? Or maybe he thought he was taking over a scandal-ridden program. Whatever the rationale, the answer was trite, cliche-ridden, and the sign of a coach without a plan.

Brewster might work out for Minnesota just like Troy Williamson might have worked out for the Vikings or Brad Childress--incidentlally, one of Brewster's close personal friends and a guy to whom Brewster referred as an "excellent coach." But the time had come for the U to hire a coach that would work out, not one that merely might work out. And based on early indicators, even the wishful thinking might be wishful--if that's possible.

Up Next: Vikings. More mousetrap rebuilding.

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