Column: Glen Mason and the Minnesota Gophers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2006

Jon Laging, Talking Sports

Now that the Detroit Tigers have lost, the biggest issue on the Minnesota scene seems to be Minnesota&8217;s football coach Glen Mason. The team has done poorly this year and it appears that what has been Mason&8217;s claim to fame and has bolstered his tenure, the annual bowl game, will not happen in 2006.

It seems unlikely that the Gophers can win three Big Ten games after losing their first four. If they do not, the cry for Mason&8217;s scalp will continue unabated and pressure on athletics director Joel Maturi to take action, will continue to mount. Perhaps Mason&8217;s biggest problem is not his fielding fair to mediocre teams, but what is perceived as his arrogance. The man is not likable.

I was sitting in the Mayo Clinic waiting to go in for one of their nastier tests when a gentleman wearing a Golden Gopher sweatshirt sat down near me. I asked him how it was with the Golden Gophers? We got to visiting with the conversation turning to Mason&8217;s football team. I mentioned Mason&8217;s personality and he related how a friend of his was talking to Mason and mentioned how great it was that the University was getting a new football stadium. Mason replied that the stadium really wasn&8217;t his concern, that he was in charge of the team, not the stadium.

Back a couple of years ago I wrote a couple of columns debating the pros and cons of such a stadium. After spending 1,300 words on both sides of the argument I came down in favor of the new stadium, believing that most of it would be financed by alumni contributions and naming rights. Time went by and lo and behold I received a letter from the U of M&8217;s President thanking me for the article. The point of this story is that I never received anything from Mason, his staff, or a form letter from his secretary. So I tend to believe my acquaintance at the Clinic.

Mason may not care very much whether a stadium is built to house his football team.

That seems hard to believe. For it seems to me that a new stadium is a wonderful opportunity to build his program and thus his team. A chance to excite Minnesota football fans and high school athletes not only from Minnesota, but also the Upper Midwest. A chance to recruit athletes that formally got away. But you know Im not sure a new stadium will help Mason and his program. The North Dakota State University team that outplayed the Gophers did it pretty much with Minnesota athletes Mason didn&8217;t want.

Supposing you had the better football players from Minnesota and better out-state recruits and still you got outplayed. Does that say anything about coaching ability?

(Jon Laging writes about regional sports topics from his home in Preston.)