Posts tagged College football
Posts tagged College football
Photo credit: Jesse Johnson / US Presswire
When last place might not matter: Here’s why college football’s National Signing Day’s rankings matter and where they might be wrong
1. On Jan. 25, a high school senior named Nate Andrews from Fairhope, Ala., decided to attend Florida State University, where he would also play Division I football. Previously, he verbally committed to Minnesota, but as teenagers are wont to do, he changed his mind. Andrews hadn’t put ink to paper and even if he had, that might not have mattered. One teenage recruit this year tattooed the Auburn logo on his forearm, before ultimately deciding to rescind his commitment to attend Alabama.
It happens. According to the Andrews’s high school football coach, Andrews decided to pick Tallahassee because it was a bit closer to home and he also struck up a good relationship with FSU’s defensive coordinator, who had previously coached defensive backs at Alabama. Good enough reasons – not to mention that Florida State has a more prestigious football program than Minnesota. The change was met with frustration from the Twitter feeds and message boards relevant to Minnesota college football, but many expected Andrews to switch schools, particularly after he attracted some late interest from Alabama.
Two themes emerged from Florida State and Minnesota fans though. Gopher fans bemoaned the idea that their coach couldn’t bring in talented recruits; Florida State fans cried that their coach was bringing in too many untalented recruits. Mr. Andrews was, at the exact same time, seen as either the one who got away or the one who shouldn’t have been invited.
College football recruiting can be kind of stupid at times.
2. Meanwhile, as Mr. Andrews made his collegiate decision, another teenager named Reggie Spearman debated what school would be best for his future. In August, the linebacker prospect picked Illinois, but as he continued to visit other schools, he wasn’t so sure anymore about attending school in Champaign, Ill. Schools started swarming. Iowa offered him a scholarship, as did Minnesota, Purdue, Syracuse, Indiana and seven other schools.
When asked about his recruitment, Spearman once said, “I’m still committed to Illinois but Iowa really opened up things and I am really just undecided.” He visited a few of the schools, each place jockeying position on Rivals’s recruiting pages.
When it came time to make a decision, Spearman took out a Syracuse hat, but then dropped it and picked up an Iowa Hawkeyes cap and put it on his head. Again, that’s pretty standard in recruiting. That isn’t the disgusting part. That came from Spearman’s Twitter feed, when he retweeted the messages he received from adult men trying to convince him to attend their favorite university.
A sampling of the messages he received after choosing Iowa (everything sic):
- “lmao this dude pathetic. you are a goddamn joke son.”
- “LOL..U picked 3 losers…good luck with that.”
- “HAHAHA.. Are you delusional? Good luck. You can’t even beat Iowa State.”
There are pages more of similar stuff, although most of it is congratulatory by now.
Keep in mind, Mr. Andrews and Mr. Spearman are three-star recruits; that is, they are not considered to be among the top tier, five-star players who command the most attention. That’s when the crazy gets turned up to 11. Five-star defensive end recruit Chris Jones of Houston received death threats from fans of Ole Miss and Mississippi State when he was rumored to be picking between the schools.
Again, grown men are harassing 17 and 18-year-olds over the Internet about what college the teens should attend – to the point where they are threatening bodily harm. If reading that doesn’t give make your eyebrows and nose scrunch together – and it should – try this. Take the phrase “17-year-old boy” out of the above sentence and place “17-year-old girl” in its place.
Several writers – Spencer Hall and Adam Kramer, for example — have written about the inherent creepiness of college football recruiting, but it’s worth repeating. SB Nation’s Black Heart Gold Pants even labels all recruiting posts “Caring Is Creepy.”
Again, 17- and 18-year-olds are being hounded by grown men who they have never met in person or even talked to on the phone. They are being repeatedly told that they should attend STATE U and when these teens decide a school that isn’t Johnny Crazyperson’s favorite, the crazies let their freak flag fly.
I bristle when people compare professional sports to slavery, but I’ve much more troubled when I overhear people brashly yelling about college football recruiting like this: “Yeah, we got that boy coming to town! Locked him up!” This insanity is not evidence of how competitive college football is. It’s evidence of how many crazy people like college football.
College football recruiting is nearly always creepy.
10. Jimmy Gjere | RT | Sophomore | 6'7” 325 lbs. G ST 5 5
Jimmy Gjere might be the most well-regarded offensive lineman on the Gophers roster; however, he hasn’t been able to fully deliver on the field in his young career. By the same point, it’s important to remember that he’s only entering his redshirt sophomore year. Ideally, Gjere* wouldn’t have taken the field at all last year, instead waiting until his pass protection skills developed.
* - Everyone refers to Gjere as “Jimmy,” although his personal Twitter account says his name is “Jim Gjere.” I feel like we should be calling him “Jim” if that’s what he really wants. Then again, he’s 6-foot, 7-inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds. Maybe we should call him “Mr. Gjere.”
After starting five games at right tackle last year, Gjere suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the season. Although he was held out of contact during spring practices, Gjere received full medical clearance July 2 to return to the field. He’s expected to start at right tackle and continue to emerge as an an anchor on the offensive line.
As Big Ten blogger Adam Jacobi wrote this spring, “Gjere is, quite simply, the type of player you build an offensive line around.” Gjere came to Minnesota as a four-star recruit out of Irondale High, spurning reported interest from more established Big Ten programs like Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin. When Gjere was a high school prospect, Rivals.com Recuriting Analyst Barry Every wrote that Gjere needed to improve his pass protection skills and that could cause his career to start off slowly. Every continued that Gjere “could become a beast” down the line, though, due to his intelligence, quick feet and imposing size.
So far in Gjere’s young career, Every has nailed it.
Gjere performed well in run blocking situations last year, but his lack of experience came to light as more seasoned pass rushers were able to dominate him in pass protection. But those skills should still develop. He is likely the most agile lineman in the Gophers program and his combination of size and speed is exceptional. Gjere has already gained about 30 pounds of good weight since his freshman year and has demonstrated his intelligence in the classroom – he was named Academic All-Big Ten.
A pessimistic outlook is that Gjere is a major question mark entering this year, due to his raw inexperience and injury issues. An optimistic outlook is that Gjere was pressed into action far too early in his career and that he has recovered from his injury – as much as a person can “recover” from a concussion.
Call me an optimist. I fully expect Gjere to continue to develop as a pass blocker and eventually become a mainstay of an offensive line that could become one of the conference’s best in a few years.
14. Michael Carter | CB | Senior | 5'11” 185 lbs. G TK INT PDEF 5 10 0 0 (*- See asterisk below for a note about Carter's 2011 stats.) Photo credit: University of Minnesota Athletic Department
Michael Carter enters his senior year holding a tenuous grasp on the starting cornerback position opposite Troy Stoudermire. What will he do with it? Will Carter finally become the steady, consistent starting cornerback that he showed hints of during his freshman year? Or will he continue to do what has made up his first three years at Minnesota?
Once again, Carter is saying the right things during spring practice, taking responsibility for his previous poor attitude and poor classroom performance.
Carter’s resurgence this spring has been surprising. I fully expected junior college transfers Martez Shabazz and Jeremy Baltazar to surpass him on the depth chart, but after spring practice, here we are with Carter apparently re-dedicating himself and ready to contribute.
Still, Carter said similar things last spring and then nothing changed. In 2011, he played in only five games on a team that was desperate for secondary help. His season stats* include 10 total tackles, zero interceptions and zero passes defended. For comparison, he bested those numbers in one game as a sophomore, when he made 11 tackles, forced a fumble and picked off a pass against Northwestern. He appeared in 12 games as a freshman, which is equal to the aggregate total from his sophomore and junior years.
* - Worth noting: The Gophers’ official site has Carter registering 10 tackles in five games, although cfbstats.com and ESPN.com don’t have Carter listed as playing in the Illinois game. Either way, the point is clear: He didn’t play much in his junior year.
Carter came to Minnesota as a four-star recruit, allegedly turning down scholarship offers from Miami and Florida, the ninth and third-ranked recruiting classes in 2009, according to Rivals. He unseated a popular senior as a true freshman and appeared in 12 games. Maybe it was a case of too much, too soon, but Carter started having problems in the classroom and suffered a nagging toe injury, ending 2010 on an academics-related suspension.
At a risk of repeating columns and turning into Rick Reilly, the problem with Carter is not talent. It’s that during his first three years, he didn’t apply himself. You can teach a person anything, complex fields like rocket science, brain surgery and how to play the “field” cornerback position, but you can’t teach someone to care about rocket science, brain surgery or the nuances of the field cornerback position. If Carter is successful, part of the credit will go to defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys for keeping him out of man coverage, but mainly, Carter’s on-field success will come once he decides to be successful and apply the work that goes into it. He will be successful because Michael Carter decided to care about
rocket science, brain surgery and playing football in the Big Ten conference.
If Carter isn’t able to deliver on his potential, the Gophers actually have relative depth at cornerback this year. I write actually because I don’t remember the last time you could say that. Junior college transfers Baltazar, Shabazz and Brien Boddy all seem capable and will be able to contribute immediately. Boddy could redshirt being that he is a sophomore; Baltazar and Shabazz are juniors. That trio puts pressure on Carter to deliver, but it also gives the Gophers a large safety net in case he regresses to the production of his last two years.
New Gopher football jerseys, designed by Kasson, Minn., native, are a nod to glory, tradition of decades past (Ed. note: I freelanced this article for the Post-Bulletin, where it can be read here. Or just read below. Photo credit: Michele Jokinen / Post-Bulletin. For some videos and other photos of the jerseys, check out this link on the official Gophers football site.)
If Jerry Kill wants to rebuild the Minnesota Golden Gophers football program one brick at a time, he now has the jerseys to do it.
The Gopher program unveiled new uniforms Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium, with Nike delivering a new inlayed brick pattern within the numerals of the white and yellow jerseys. The maroon jersey, with yellow numbers, does not include the brick pattern. It caps off what those involved with the design have called a blue-collar, grab-your-lunchpail theme.
“It’s a blue collar, one brick at a time mentality,” University of Minnesota Director of Football Equipment Kyle Gergely said. “We want to bring the tradition back from ‘The Brick House.’
Drawing on that history was Minnesota native Josh Iverson, who grew up in Kasson.
Iverson is now a graphic designer for Nike and has been involved with several high-profile uniform redesigns, including those at Texas Christian, West Virginia and Ohio State universities. He was also involved with the design team that created the Naval Academy’s jerseys for the Army-Navy rivalry game this year.
When it came to Minnesota, Iverson said many conversations eventually came to old Memorial Stadium, aka “The Brick House.”
“I remember my dad saying, ‘I remember the Gophers playing at ‘The Brick House,’ and Kyle’s guys brought me around to see that,” said Iverson, who has been with Nike for more than six years. “The big idea was to pay tribute to the past and kind of the golden age of Gopher football.”
The grueling work of rebuilding the University of Minnesota’s football program will have to take place on the field, but program officials hope the team’s new jerseys can at least begin the process of resurrecting Minnesota’s prestigious football tradition from decades long past.
Drawing upon a history that includes six claimed national championships — but none since 1960 — the nod is most literal on the maroon numerals of the gold and white jerseys.
The wink to former glory goes deeper than inspiration from the Memorial Stadium bricks, though.
Decades ago, a young man walked past deteriorating Memorial Stadium on the University campus, where the Golden Gophers had played football before bolting for the then state-of-the-art Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The stadium held the lasting memories of championship teams long past; the man spotted a manageable gate climb, looked around to make sure he was alone and jumped it.
He walked inside “The Brick House” and checked it out for himself, a story he would later tell his son, Kasson native and current Nike Football Graphic Designer Josh Iverson.
“I remember him telling me how cool it was,” Iverson said.
Late last year, Nike tabbed Iverson to take the lead in designing the Gophers new uniforms. Flying back to Minnesota from Oregon, Gophers staff members handed him several old photos, held a few meetings with him and even took Iverson on a tour of campus. Iverson learned about former coach Murray Warmath and his blue-collar work ethic, as well as how current head coach Jerry Kill hopes to bring that same mentality back to the program.
The nexus of those ideas came when the tour reached McNamara Alumni Center, as Iverson stared up at the original entrance of Memorial Stadium, the home of those teams he had been researching, the spot his father had told him about several years ago.
“I started with Coach Warmath and his personality and also with Coach Kill and his intensity and blue-collar work ethic. I just wanted to it to feel right for Minnesota and communicate the values that Minnesota has,” Iverson said of the jersey design. “The working hard, brick-by-brick (sentiment), Coach Kill really seemed to like that.”
Athletic department employees handed Iverson several different historic items for him to peruse, but he was drawn to a photo from the Gophers’ 1940 National Championship team. He spotted a No. 4 in the photo, which he used to create an entire font, using the characteristics of the block Minnesota “M,” angular with little curvature. The result is the text on the new helmet’s back bumper, now sketched with the university’s Ski-U-Mah slogan.
The slogan is also scrawled on the back of jersey collar, as Iverson said, “the last thing a player sees before he puts his jersey on.”
The team released new helmets Dec. 19, which no longer carry a sparkling maroon paint job. The helmet now has a matte finish that upon closer inspection shows a bit of dark veining or pores like that of a brick.
Also gone from last year’s jerseys, which had been the design since 2008, is the Minnesota text across the front of the uniform.
Uniform redesigns have become a huge trend in college football, as programs look for anything that might prove an advantage in terms of recruiting and notoriety. For example, Nike outfitted the University of Oregon players in a different jersey and pants combination for each game, while Under Armour and Maryland made their players look strikingly close to a Baltimore-based Roller Derby team. Those modern designs weren’t really considered, though.
The U of M wasn’t looking to become the next Oregon or Maryland, Iverson and Gergely said.
“I don’t think we could pull off the ‘Oregon’ here,” Gergely said, referring to the Ducks’s varied uniform combinations, including six different helmets. “It’s what works for their program. This is a very tradition rich program. All of that off the wall stuff, I don’t know if it would work here.”
It had been rumored weeks ago that the Gophers would incorporate black into the new uniforms, with dozens of fans taking to the Internet to levy their criticism. While adding a black accent was originally about by U of M staff, it was nixed fairly quickly, ironically enough by someone who has ended up a regular target for those same hardcore fans – University of Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi.
Maturi made the right call, said Gergely, after looking at the new design.
“We said, maybe let’s try a little bit of black trim, but (Maturi) really wanted to keep it traditional. He said, ‘Let’s keep this traditional, with our main colors, with no black in them,’” Gergely said. “We all wanted a clean, traditional and contemporary look and it turned out great.”
Instead, the helmet has a both black facemask and back bumper.
Nike officials said that Minnesota will not have a Pro Combat jersey design this year, but that they would be open to the idea in the future if U of M football staff expressed interest.
Reached by phone in Korea while on assignment, Iverson said he jumped at the chance to design the Gophers’ uniforms.
“I’ll put it this way, we couldn’t keep him away from it, even if we tried,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike creative director for football and basketball, who headed up the Gophers’ redesign project.
As Iverson spoke about what inspired Minnesota’s new design, Van Horne said incorporating that type of history and culture is what makes each project unique. He also joked that Iverson’s brick theme may have come from one of his jobs prior to Nike, masonry.
“Like Todd said, I grew up doing construction. I never thought I’d be designing any uniforms for Nike, let alone working for Nike,” Iverson said. “It’s a dream job.”
The Gophers released new helmets today, with the entire jerseys being released in January. The matte maroon finish with just touches of black looks nice; I hope the university and Nike use the same color scheme for an all maroon jersey and pants combination. [Gopher Sports]
• Minnesota Golden Gopher football will have new jerseys next year and the athletic department is releasing them to the public “Major League” style, by stripping away a glimpse of the new threads each day much like the Cleveland Indians did with the cardboard cutout of owner Rachel Phelps.
Today, they released the picture on the far right, which I’m guessing to be directly above the middle of he helmet. A few people are saying it looks like a Michigan M, which at this point, I would agree with. Matt from FBT theorized that it will be part of “Ski-U-Mah” across the front of the helmet, which would be pretty cool.
Follow the official Gopher Football Twitter feed for updates, at least until a photo officially leaks. The helmet will be released in full on Monday, with the full jerseys coming in January.
Rumors online say that the helmets will have a matte maroon finish (no sparkle helmets!), with the helmet logos separated on each side with numbers and the traditional “M” on the other. While the “43” picture lends credibility to that, the numbers also wouldn’t be raised quite like they are usually if they are on the side of a helmet. I would guess that is a picture of the back of the helmet.
In looking back over the year, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg grades the Gophers at a “D” for 2011. I’d argue, but the team lost to both New Mexico State and North Dakota State, in addition to getting beat 58-doughnut at The Big House. I wrote about my feelings of the season for FBT here.
Looking to 2012, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes that the Gophers will be looking to the junior college ranks for help. Also, let’s put the “Gopher football can’t compete because the athletic standards are too difficult” supposition officially to bed. The U of M is a great university, but it isn’t Stanford and it isn’t an Ivy league school. It’s not even Baylor, as this blog post from Miller finds, as the Gophers welcome Martez Shabazz, a junior college recruit from Texas who wanted to attend by Baylor, but “they wouldn’t take (his) Ds.”
I obviously wanted Sumlin for the Gophers way back when (last year), but now I wonder how well Sumlin will do in a packed SEC West. As CBTN writes, “the Aggies will be joining the SEC West, which includes Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas,Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. To say the very least, football life is about to get much harder for A&M (three of these teams have won National Championships since 2001).”
Meanwhile, Auburn’s Gene Chizik accepted a job at Arkansas State. Yes, Arkansas State is a real thing and not a southern re-boot of the sitcom “Coach.” Somehow, Chizik passed on a $3 million per year contract at Vanderbilt last year and then took this small school job, which was actually a pay cut from his Auburn gig as offensive coordinator. Oh, and he was seen as the mastermind behind the Cam Newton-led National Champion Tigers in 2010.
I’m going out on a limb that Auburn coaches are running from that program as soon as they can for fear of NCAA impropriety, but I’m really basing that on nothing. The move, coupled with defensive coordinator’s Ted Roof’s exodus, makes me think that something else has to be going on.
What a difference a year makes. For a round up of all major coaching moves in college football, check out Coaches By the Numbers’ analysis table.
• The Minnesota Twins are apparently ready to move on from Michael Cuddyer, as they signed a poor man’s version of Cuddy, Josh Willingham, to a three-year, $21 million deal. Aaron Gleeman writes that Willingham has been generally a better player than Cuddyer, and with letting Cuddyer go to the Rockies, the Twins secure a draft pick and save more than $10 million over the life of both three-year deals.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the Twins will take the money saved in the Willingham signing to possibly add a pitcher.
Elsewhere, Parker Hageman at Over the Baggy wrote on Tuesday about how Willingham was built for Target Field, in that being a dead pull hitter his power numbers will stand up at spacious Target Field better than Cuddyer’s did.
Want to see how the Twins’ salary numbers are looking for the upcoming year and how close they are to dropping the payroll closer to $100 million? Check out Cot’s Baseball Contracts for all of the updated numbers, and also see how much of a bonus Scott Baker would receive for finishing third place in the AL Cy Young race. (It’s a $50,000 bonus.)
• Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has announced he’s going to challenge Vladimir Putin in Russia’s next presidential election.
I’m just going to go out on a limb and say this will end badly. Just for some background, read Bill Simmons of Grantland’s old ESPN column about how Prokhorov got his money. I didn’t use “earned” there, because he apparently used bribes years ago to gain controlling interests of certain companies, which led to him becoming a billionaire several times over.
Now, the NBA apparently did due diligence to make sure he was legit and wouldn’t land the basketball owners in a worldwide scandal. That said, presidential candidates tend to have a higher amount of scrutiny that the regular Joe Public. Especially in Russia. When you’re trying to unseat Putin.
You might be better off trying to stage a military coup than willing a supposedly honest election against Putin. And I wouldn’t recommend that, either. This isn’t going to end well.
• Writer Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday and this piece from Slate’s Matt Labash, “Sneaking into Iraq with Hitchens” does as good a job as eulogizing him as any.
• Also, Louis CK is selling his “Live at the Beacon Theater” for $5 on his website. He financed everything himself and is trying this out as an experiment. Call him the comedian “Radiohead,” I’d love to see more bands use this exact model as well. It’s a lot harder to download something off of the Internet for free when someone writes you a personal note saying they financed everything themselves and also when they are putting it out for $5.
But seriously, it’s funny. Go buy it.
• So far, The Roots’ “Lighthouse” is my favorite track from unDun. The record is really solid so far, so here’s a link to Lighthouse, which you can listen to while you peruse “Questlove’s Celebrity Stories.”
Years ago, before Twitter and even Facebook, there was Okayplayer, the Roots’ web site. Quest often posted there about his run-ins with people, tracks he was working on, etc. Reading Questo’s Celebrity Stories makes me feel like it’s the winter of 2001 and I’m home from college on Christmas break, listening to Bilal’s “First Born Second” while sitting in my brother’s room (my mother’s basement) reading OKP and downloading new music.
Sigh. Growing up.
We are going through the worst place in the collegiate football world and we didn’t even know it.
We are going through the worst place in the collegiate football world and we didn’t even know it.
What can we really tell from team-by-team National Signing Day recruiting rankings? Are recruiting rankings a predictor of future success? Or are they swayed toward big-time, big-name programs and prospects in Texas, California and Florida?
Photo credit: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune
(Ed. Note: I wrote this back in March, while staying in Zimbabwe. I held off publishing it to possibly use it in hopes for a different blog, but rather than let this continue to sit, I’d like to get it out there. To kick off Gopher camp, I figured I would bring it out, as well as some more regular posts in the coming days. EM)
In early 2008, the Minnesota Golden Gophers had just wrapped up an atrocious season, one that would have gone completely winless if not for an early season win in triple overtime against an under .500 team from the Mid-American Conference. But later next February, there the Gophers were, sprinkled between Texas A&M and Virginia Tech within the top 25 recruiting rankings. Coach Tim Brewster and company brought the excitement of the Dinkytown faithful to a level never before reached in the short history of the Rivals.com lists on National Signing Day.
Even though Minnesota was once the class of major college football, those championship banners were raised decades ago, long before these incoming 17 and 18 year-olds had been born, and likely before even their parents had been born. It was what Brewster, an unproven hire, had been brought in to accomplish, to bring in players that otherwise tabbed Minneapolis as a cold Omaha. The dandy of a recruiting ranking, which seemingly dominated anything that Brewster’s predecessor Glen Mason accomplished recruiting wise, had Big Ten and Gopher football message boards alike buzzing.
“This class is phenomenal. Minnesota has to be one of the biggest stories nationally,” said Tom Lemming, possibly one of most well-known and thorough national recruiting analysts, at the time to the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis. “I believe Tim is one of the Top 10 recruiters I’ve ever seen and he’s showing why with this class. Recruiting is all about perception and nobody does it better than Tim. I’ve been doing this since 1978 and this is the best class that Minnesota has brought in when you talk about pure athletes.”
For those who aren’t ardent Saturday football fans, you’ll probably remember Lemming from a brief cameo in the film adaption of “The Blind Side.” The reviews poured in from other recruiting analysts as well, from credible sources who make a 9-to-5 living off of scouting players and analyzing them for college programs.
“There’s no question that Minnesota’s class goes down as the biggest surprise in the nation for me,” said Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst. “We knew he could recruit when he was at Texas and other places, but the job that he did this season with the results on the field is amazing. He’s surrounded himself with great assistant coaches that work just as hard as he does, and the end result is a class chock-full of impact guys that should help them out right away.”
Meanwhile, Zach Johnson, recruiting editor for Rivals-based GophersIllustrated.com, told a Star-Tribune reporter that it was the best recruiting class in Golden Gopher football history.
At his first press conference a few years earlier, Brewster promised such recruiting victories, which he said would not only leads to wins against the hated Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes, but also to the Rose Bowl, the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All.”
“We’re going to win the Big Ten championship and we’re going to take the Gopher Nation to Pasadena,” Brewster said at the time to the cadre of reporters. “That’s my dream, that’s my goal and that’s my belief. It will happen here sooner rather than later.”
Brewster’s first true class delivered according to the experts. The Gophers now had the athletes to compete with upper echelon schools. But less than three years later, two offensive and defensive coordinators each had abandoned ship, the Gophers never won more than seven games in a season and Brewster was fired in the midst of a 1-6 season. Even in the seven win season when the team had briefly reached the top 25, they ended the season on a five-game losing streak, including a 55-0 loss to Iowa at home. During his tenure, Brewster’s team never beat a team ranked in the top 25; they hadn’t even beaten a rival in a trophy game. Brewster inherited a team that played Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl. He left a team that, at the time, hadn’t won a Big Ten conference game.
What happened? Is a recruiting ranking an indicator of future success? Were the Gophers victim to some unlikely circumstances or was Brewster unable to coach these talented players to their potential?
Why didn’t the Gophers improve their Big Ten position?
I have some other things coming soon and since power has been spotty this week, I’ll keep this rundown short:
• Did Glen Mason deserve to be fired because of the Gophers’ on-field play or did his attitude eventually cause people to turn against him? MV over at FringeBowlTeamBlog offers a well-thought out retrospective on the Mason years, concluding that it was his personality and not necessarily his record that ended his tenure at the U. Posts like this are the reason that FBT is such a great daily read for Gopher football fans. Compared to the people who preceded and followed him, Mason is Vince Lombardi. The idea of firing him so that the program could take another step forward is still something that, years later, I can agree with. However, as anyone else with a pulse who enjoys Gopher football has said, it’s clear Tim Brewster wasn’t the right hire. If the idea was to proceed past the fourth-quarter collapses and the fringe bowls, then it was the right move. But it stands to be said that Mason was the best head coach the Gophers have had in two decades. [FBT]
• Jerry Kill appears to be a brilliant hire for the Gophers, Bill Connelly of Football Outsiders/Football Study Hall/SB Nation finds in his exhaustive season preview of the Gophs. It’s really a great read, which also touches briefly on the Glen Mason era and what it would take for the Maroon and Gold to once again reach that level. He also offers an explanation of the term “Glen Mason Territory.” [SB Nation]
• Jerry Kill offered some positive words concerning MarQueis Gray’s progress during his Gopher Revival Tour. The Strib’s Phil Miller files the story, with Kill saying that Gray “flat surprised us” during spring practice. All spring Kill held himself back from praising the QB too much, even suggesting after the spring practice that Max Shortell would come in and compete for the job. Here’s thinking this is the second phase to the “break ‘em down, build ‘em up” approach. [Star Tribune]
• Sandy Stephens was (finally) named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Stephens was the Gophers’ first black quarterback, as well as the first quarterback of color to win Rose Bowl MVP. I’ll have more coming later this week about him, but here’s the story from 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero. [1500ESPN]
(Photo credit: Associated Press. Note: I’m away from my computer today, but later I’ll post my own Photoshopped image with Kill’s mug tacked on a manila folder. I know, exciting.)
After watching Monday’s press conference, we know this about Jerry Kill: he out kicked in his coverage in matrimony, beat cancer and he promises to, as everyone chuckled to themselves later while making bad Kill puns, “stroke the post.”
Now that everyone has had the chance to complete the three stages of a Gopher football coaching hire — first, dry the tears of disappointment (no Chris Petersen?); second, quell rage at Joel Maturi for floating the idea of a “Tubby Smith hire” and, third, reasonably consider the program and Kill’s resume — here are some links to learn a bit more about the new coach: