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Minnesota Football: Are the Gophers better post-Mason or post-Brewster?

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A VERY interesting non-coaching search article in today's PP from Marcus Fuller. The question Marcus tries to answer: Was the Gopher football program in better shape when Glen Mason was fired after the 2006 season, or now in 2010 after Tim Brewster? I do feel like we've seen something like this before here....hmmmm...where was it? Oh that's right- GN took stock of the Cupboard earlier this week and determined it was not bare. Not bare at all, actually, and thought we're in better shape heading into 2011 than in 2007.

To get his answer Marcus talked to long-time recruiting expert Tom Lemming of CBSSports.com, and also compared recruiting classes using Rivals and Scout. Remember that in Mason's final year the Gophs won six games and went to a bowl game, while as we know all too well, this year's group mustered just three wins, and only one under Brewster. Interesting enough, both years Minnesota finished the regular season by beating Iowa at home, and on at least a two game winning streak.

So which coach left the program in better shape? According the analysts, the clear winner was...

Tim Brewster, which is probably not surprising considering his recruiting classes were always ranked much higher than any of Mason's. However, as Mason points out in the article (and has many times before) while he never had highly ranked classes he still got them to bowl games just about every season. Brewster? Yeah not so much. Mason got fired for mediocrity and never being able to get Minnesota to a New Year's Day Bowl or even close to a Big Ten championship. Brewster got fired because he couldn't even get them bowling.

Mason's kids were generally a bunch of overachievers who were built for his system. RB's Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney were both four star recruits how had wild success, and Mason un-earthed plenty of lightly recruited kids like TE Matt Spaeth, and linemen Mark Setterstrom and Greg Eslinger, and turned them into All-Conference players and NFL draftees. Oh, and don't forget Eric Decker, who I believe was a two-star recruit from Cold Springs, MN who turned into an All-American (or would have been had he stayed healthy) and a future NFLer. Still, Mason lacked high-impact defenders, as guys like Tyrone Carter, and Wilie VanDeSteeg were few and far between.

Brewster's kids have, well, I don't want to say they've all underachieved, but there's been some pretty big misses. MarQueis Gray was the second ranked dual-threat QB in the country and as of yet hasn't come close to fulfilling that promise as a QB. We hope that changes in 2011. Highly decorated JUCO-All American wideout Hayo Carpenter has been a complete non-factor. Four star prospectsTE-turned-DE Ra'Shede Hageman and CB Michael Carter have been inconsistent both on and off the field, as both were suspended halfway through the season to "concentrate on academics."

Of course, guys like Da'Jon McKnight, who wasn't highly recruited out of Texas, has been incredible, and should be an all-conference candidate as a senior next year. Ditto LB Gary Tinsley, TE Eric Lair, and DT Brandon Kirksey. We here at TDG all thought that the Gophers had enough talent to go bowling in 2010, and when it didn't happen, we blamed the coaching. I don't think we were alone in thinking that. The way the team played under Horton the last two games, and especially the way the defense finally started coming together, proved there IS indeed talent here, and the next coach is going to have some great pieces to work with.

So Marcus and GN took two different approaches and came to the same conclusion: the Gopher football program is in better shape after firing Tim Brewster than after firing Glen Mason. So I guess Timmy B DID make some progress here after all!

And with that it's back to trolling Twitter and Gopherhole for coaching updates...and if my bosses read this, by that I mean "working." Have a good weekend everybody.