October 17, 2010
You didn't have to be Nostradamus to see this coming after Minnesota's sixth straight loss Saturday at Purdue. But for the record, the simmering rumors are official this morning – Tim Brewster is out as Gopher head coach:
Athletics director Joel Maturi announced this morning that Tim Brewster has been relieved of his duties as head football coach and that his contract has been terminated. Brewster will be replaced on an interim basis by co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton, according to Maturi.
"While I appreciate the passion and commitment that Coach Brewster has shown, it is clear that a change in the leadership of Gopher football is necessary," Maturi said. "We have high aspirations for our football program and we are not satisfied with its current direction. The results so far this season have been unacceptable and the program has simply not shown enough improvement over the past three and a half years to continue with the status quo."
Maturi said that he has had several discussions regarding the state of the program with university president Robert Bruininks in recent weeks and that the president was in complete agreement with the decision to remove Brewster as head coach. Maturi then told Brewster of his decision this morning.
His exit is effectively immediately: Horton will take over as interim head coach for the remaining five games. Technically the Gophers are still eligible for bowl eligibility with a 5-0 finish, but ... well, yeah, they're just playing out the string. Upcoming dates with Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa could get very, very ugly.
Brewster's expectations were never clear – his predecessor, Glen Mason, was fired in 2006 after taking the Gophers to six bowl games and two top-20 finishes in seven years, easily the best run at Minnesota since the early sixties – but whatever they were, he didn't come close to meeting them. Brewster's first team finished 1-11 with zero conference wins and the worst Big Ten defense of the last decade. His next two teams were identical to the one that got Mason fired, mediocre outfits with 3-5 conference records and season-ending losses in the Insight Bowl.
The current team is well on its way to rivaling the ignominy of the 2007 edition, having already dropped games against a I-AA paycheck, a token MAC-rifice and the two most beatable Big Ten peers on the schedule. In between, the annual rivalry match with Wisconsin was another blowout, dropping Brewster to 0-9 against the Badgers and the other most-hated foes, Iowa and Michigan.
Even at the beginning, Brewster was a bizarre hire, an NFL tight ends coach with no experience as a coordinator on any level, and nothing in his 45-game tenure – beginning with an overtime loss to Bowling Green in his first game – has refuted that initial skepticism. Minnesota may not expect much after five solid decades of mediocrity, but six-game losing streaks and losses to South Dakota obviously aren't going to cut it when there's a new stadium to pay for.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.