Part of the Doc's Big Ten Week.
You'd have to search far and wide for anyone without a vested interest who genuinely expects Illinois' Ron Zook or Minnesota's Tim Brewster to occupy their current chairs by the time the chimes ring in 2011. In fact, a lot of us are a little baffled they're still with us for 2010 – especially Zook, who watched a promising season crumble beneath him instantly en route to a 3-9 catastrophe that brought the Illini full-circle from their stunning Rose Bowl bid in 2007 and back to their two-win flops in Zook's first two seasons.
Intensity and enthusiasm have brought them this far, but does either coach have a chance to successfully cling to his office for another year? Let's go to the tape...
|Tim Brewster • Minnesota||Ron Zook • Illinois||Advantage|
|14-24 (6-18 Big Ten); One winning season, lost 2008-09 Insight Bowls||21-39 (12-28 Big Ten); One winning season, lost 2008 Rose Bowl||Push|
|World view as expressed via Twitter||"Do you love football?? I sure do!! What a great day. Young players really coming along! Off to the clinic. GO GOPHERS!!"||"Just got off the floor of Chicago Mercantile exchange watch some Illini grad.trade corn and soybeans Unbelievable intensity"||Zook|
|Regrettable college coif|
|at Miami (Ohio):|
"The Vanilla Fu Manchu."
|Distant origin of perceived recruiting mojo||As an assistant, helped recruit Vince Young to Texas.||As Florida's head coach, recruited the vast majority of the Gators' 2006 BCS championship team.||Push|
|Failed motivational ploy||Imported strip of Rose Bowl turf to show off at practice.||Threatened to do anything in his power to take down rival frat house.||Brewster|
|Soul-crushing defeat via two-point conversion on the final play||Zook|
|Most recently ('09) finished dead last in Big Ten in...||Total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, sacks allowed||Total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks||Push|
|Middling four- year starter who clearly peaked as a sophomore||Adam Weber||Juice Williams||Brewster|
(Weber still has a year to make this work)
|Token vote of confidence||Two-year contract extension||"I think it's really unfair to start jumping at the end of the fifth year on a guy."||Brewster|
|Last, best hope||Big Ten's most experienced offensive line (114 career starts)||Redshirt freshman QB (Nathan Scheelhaase) with zero career starts||Brewster|
|Inevitable kiss of death||Big Ten's least experienced defense (two returning starters, both at safety)||Redshirt freshman QB (Nathan Scheelhaase) with zero career starts||Push|
There you have it: Even given Zook's improbable aesthetic advantages in social media, retro fashion and freak, last-second heartbreak, Brewster's veteran quarterback and offensive line and token contract extension give him the slight edge on returning in 2011. Either way, both schools should probably go ahead and pitch in for the guillotine when the Illini and Gophers get together for the Lame Duck Bowl in Champaign on Nov. 13. Whoever makes it out of the season alive will have to win that one, at least.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.