Tim Brewster walked into DinkyTown guns a'blazin' three and a half years ago talking about Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowls and recruiting. Let me be the first to admit, I was smitten.
Coming from a guy like Glen Mason, who liked to say things like, "we're never going to out-recruit Ohio State or Michigan" (whether or not it's true is irrelevant here, everyone knows that to be the case, but the head coach of your program does not need to say those kind of things), and seemed content with having turned Minnesota around, but unable to take the program to a higher level than mediocre, hearing those kind of things coming out of our coach's mouth was refreshing.
In hindsight, I really believe that Tim Brewster was doing everything he possibly knew how to do in order to build a winner at Minnesota, and off of the field, he did a lot of great things for the program. But the problem is that Tim Brewster just did not have the coaching chops to win games on the field.
Having never been even a coordinator at the college or professional level, his knowledge of the x's & o's of the game were severely lacking. At Minnesota we found ourselves with upgrades in facilities, off-season programs, non-conference schedules, and recruiting, which are all very important building blocks in making a winner. But we also found ourselves without the wins on the field to show for it.
Tim Brewster is many things, but a solid x's & o's coach he is not.
So what kind of coach DOES Minnesota need?
A solid recruiter.
Recruiting is incredibly important in college football, and it needs to be given the same type of attention by the new head coach as Tim Brewster gave it. Brewster's talent as a recruiter is certainly not in question. But based on what we know now, it appears that Joel Maturi allowed the promise of top 20 ranked recruiting classes and 5-star athletes cloud his judgement in the interview process.
Of course recruiting is important, but the next coach at Minnesota needs to have recruiting on his list of strengths... as long as it isn't the only thing on the list.
A game planner.
If recruiting prowess was overvalued in the last round of coaching interviews by Joel Maturi, on-field coaching and an actual resume of success were severely undervalued. Tim Brewster had never even put together an offensive or defensive game plan beyond the high school ranks, much less been involved in game planning on both sides of the ball to complete a comprehensive game plan.
The results speak for themselves. A team that ran the spread in 2007, put more emphasis on running in 2008, then promised to pound the rock in 2009, but abandoned the run the second it looked like it might be stopped, and as a result had absolutely no identity as a team. When the "pound the rock" philosophy finally was implemented in 2010, he was so unwilling to tell his coordinator to mix it up, that he left his QB scrambling at the end of games, en route to a 1-6 start and ultimately being fired.
An in-game coach.
2007, North Dakota State comes into the Metrodome along with a frenzied Bison crowd. In the second half the Gophers were on defense and NDSU was driving, but on a particular play NDSU was having some issue getting the right personnel into the game. As the play clock ran down and the Gopher defense waited for NDSU, it was clear that NDSU would need to call a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty.
So what happened? Tim Brewster called the timeout.
2010, USC comes to The Bank to play the Gophers on a beautiful fall day in Minnesota. In the second quarter, losing 13-7, the Gophers get the ball back with :25 seconds left in the half. With just one timeout left, the Gophers take a knee to run out the clock... but Lane Kiffin calls a timeout, of which he has 3. Now why would Lane Kiffin call timeout in that situation?
He wants the ball back, he wants to score again. In response, what do the Gophers do? Run off-tackle for a 3 yard gain. Kiffin calls T.O. AGAIN. And in response, the Gophers run AGAIN. You know what happens next, Kiffin calls his 3rd T.O., the Gophers are forced to punt back to the Trojans.
Even though the Trojans got the ball back with just :04 seconds on the clock, the point is this... if you want to run the clock out, fine, I get it. But if the opposing coach isn't going to let that happen, and he's going to call timeout, then you need to take as much advantage of his timeout as you would of your own and call a play to move the ball and at least attempt to score instead of being so afraid of making a mistake that you paralyze yourself and your team.
As a head coach that call is ultimately yours, but Tim Brewster folded like a cheap suit.
These are just a couple of the traits I'd like to see in a new coach (along with someone who is defensive minded, has some ties to the Midwest and/or the Big Ten, etc), and they probably seem incredibly obvious, but that is exactly the point. It SHOULD be obvious that you wouldn't hire a coach unless he had some credentials in all three of these areas.
But that didn't happen when Joel Maturi hired Tim Brewster... instead Maturi bought the sizzle, and forgot all about the steak.