Oh Glen Mason, may you never change. The King of Smarm was at it again last Thursday afternoon on the Dan Barreiro show on KFAN, as he was upset with something Patrick Reusse had written. Reusse's column, titled "Kill Follows the Mason School of Scheduling" took a shot at Mason's penchant for non-conference cupcakes in his tenure here at Minnesota:
...when Glen Mason took over as the coach in 1997 and -- ticket buyers be danged -- he did everything possible to line up three (or four) layups before the Big Ten schedule.
Starting in 1998, Mason went 27-3 in nonconference games over nine seasons. The Gophers did not play a nonconference game against a BCS opponent between Baylor (then a Big 12 bottom-feeder) in 2000 and California in 2006.
For anyone who has followed the Gophers the past couple of decades, this really isn't news. It was a running gag about how laughable Mason's schedules were, about how you knew he was lining up 4 guaranteed wins in the non-con so he could find two more wins in conference to get to a mediocre bowl. What was surprising to me was how defiant Mason was in his defense of his scheduling philosophy on KFAN last week (part 1 and part 2)...
Now for the record, I'm not against Jerry Kill loading up on more winnable games as he builds his program. But if/when he gets this team back to the 6-7 win plateau that Mason couldn't get past, I hope he starts adding a quality BCS conference opponent to the schedule. Glen Mason never did that--except he argued with Barreiro that he did. He claimed both Iowa State and Baylor as quality BCS conference opponents and how both teams backed out of a two game series, meaning the Gophers only played them once, and that hurt their schedule. That was his defense for at least two seasons of cupcaking. One point he kept talking about was FACTS and how everybody likes FACTS so here's some FACTS for the Reusse's and doubters of the world.
Um, his FACTS are that they tried to schedule Iowa State and Baylor for home-and-home series and they backed out? Here are some FACTS for ol' Glen about Iowa State and Baylor at the time the Gophers played them, and WOULD have played them had they not backed out: the Cyclones played the Gophers in 1997, Mason's first at Minnesota, and Iowa State went 1-10 that year. The next season, when they apparently backed out, they were 3-8. The season after that they went 4-7. The Gophers played Baylor in 2000, when the Bears were 2-9. They won one game the year before in 1999, and had they not backed out of their series with Minnesota, whether that second game would have been in 2001 or 2002, they were 3-8 and 3-9.
Iowa State and Baylor have solid football programs today, and would be considered respectable BCS non-conference opponents. They were no such thing in the 1990's and 2000's when Glen Mason scheduled them, played them, and would have played them had they not backed out. The quote above from Reusse's column says it all- 3 BCS conference non-con opponents in all his time here, and we're pretty sure he was against scheduling Cal. Barreiro asked him a couple of times point blank "you were against scheduling Cal, right?" and Mason never answered him. So I'll take that as a yes.
Look, I know this should be water under the bridge at this point, but it just bothers me when a coach who was rightfully fired back in 2006 is trying to reinvent history. FACTS are FACTS- firing him in 2006 was the right decision then, it was the right decision now, and he never tried to make a tough non-conference schedule no matter what he tells you. If only we could have hired Jerry Kill to replace him in 2006 instead of that other guy.