Feel free to criticize me, but I was one of those who was skeptical as I watched an over-the-top Tim Brewster take over a Minnesota program last year. We don't need to chronicle his rhetoric, it's well known.
One year later--and throwing the record out--it seems like Brewster is growing into his job. Maybe I should have allowed him that opportunity when I criticized him last year. Why do I say this? Read Marcus Fuller's lengthy feature piece on Brewster from the Pioneer Press. Some shotgunning follows.
Tim Brewster was back at Central Catholic High School on Friday night, reminiscing with the athletics director, when he asked for a few minutes alone.
Brewster walked over to the south end zone at Paul LaRocca Field in Lafayette, Ind., leaned on a fence and reflected on a journey that began 20 years ago, when he became a head coach for the first time, with a roster of a couple dozen scrawny teenagers and a field he lined himself before games, until now, when he is coaching a nationally ranked, upstart college football team in the midst of a magical season.
This shows me Brewster has a tendency for retrospection. It's also obvious that Brewster knows his roots, he remembers the work he put in to get to a BCS school. Frankly, it shows he's relatively grounded. The cynic in me finds this anecdote somewhat corny. But I tend to believe for Brewster it's real.
With four games left in the season, Brewster tries to keep his feelings to himself about the possibility of getting to Pasadena, just as he downplayed what it meant before the Gophers faced his alma mater, Illinois, last season's Rose Bowl participant.
I wonder what the Brewster of just one year ago would have said if he ran out to a 7-1 start. I think he would have said how tremendous Jug the Gophers were at any given opportunity. Rhetoric would have been much stronger than "Why not us? Why not now?"
Brewster and his team kept their composure during a dramatic 27-20 upset on Oct. 11, a game that launched the 2008 Gophers onto the national scene. Brewster's emotions spilled out during the postgame news conference, when he proclaimed, "Why not us? Why not now?"
When asked what the victory meant to him — a victory that made Minnesota bowl-eligible and would lead to a national ranking, against his former school, the one that refused to interview him for its head coaching vacancy in 2005 — he more matter-of-factly replied, "Sure, there's some significance."
White (a former Illinois coach) wasn't surprised to hear Brewster had turned low-key. He talked to Brewster this week about Minnesota's four remaining games, all potential victories, but not once did Brewster mention the Rose Bowl.
The composure of this Minnesota team has been nothing short of extraordinary. Yes, there are offensive line faults. Yes, the offense struggles at times and the defense bends. But how many games could have went the other way? All three Big Ten wins were in doubt and the opponents had opporunities to score. There was no panic. Each time someone made a big play. That is composure.
I'm not going to say Brewster has "turned low-key," but he's done well to play down the significance of any one win. Beating Illinois was a nice step, but it's not the goal. That's why I disagree with GN about Minnesota's liklihood of overlooking Northwestern. It's because Brewster seeems able to tap his passion to motivate, but in year two he's been able to be more strategic with his passion
This isn't the Tim Brewster many of us criticized last year. This is a Tim Brewster who is growing into his job.
- The Big Ten Network gameday set will be on campus this weekend for the Homecoming game. The Gophers will have arrived when Lee Corso arrives and dons Golden Gophers head gear.
- Mike Lucas of The Capital Times discusses Minnesota's propensity to create turnovers. They call it Takeaway Tueseday. They can call it whatever they want as long as it keeps working. Nice to get some posiitve press out of Badgerland. Must irk those that wear red.
- Poor Greg Oden. After turning heads aroud the country during one season at Ohio State, the big man is now being compared to Ralph Sampson, who was an amazing talent in college but never lived up to the reputation as a pro.
- Northwestern's CJ Bacher remains questionable for Saturday, though if I were a betting man with no inside information I'd bet on him trying to play. This is a very big game for the Wildcats. Consecutive road losses will be demoralizing after such a nice start to the season.
- The latest reason why you should read TNABACG, poorly acronymned or not.
- One reason why I prefer NCAA basketball to NCAA football is the mid-majors actually have a chance to win a national title. George Mason proved that a few years back. And if the championship is a bit of a stretch, they at least have an opportunity. With that in mind, CBS' Gary Parrish lists 15 non-BCS teams who could go dancing come March. I'm partial since I live in Virginia, but I like VCU's chances of being Mason-like this year.