Evaluating Minnesota coaches

Published 9:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

Leading off with Minnesota’s favorite, the Minnesota Vikings and spotlighting their head coach Brad Childress, you can’t ask for much more from his Vikings. If they continue on their present path, they will be playing in the Super Bowl. In fact some early analysts are calling them Super Bowl favorites.

Childress took over from a popular coach Mike Tice, who was always good for a quote and subsequently was a sportswriter’s favorite. Sportswriters have a great deal of influence in determining how a coach or any sports figure is received by the public. A good example is former owner Red McCombs who was a colorful character and as such received good press about his bleeding purple. McCombs, after he didn’t receive his new stadium handout, reverted to his former occupation of used car dealer and squeezed every penny possible out of the franchise before selling for double the amount he paid. But right up to the end, he was treated more than fairly by the media.

Childress was not nearly as open as Tice and the sportswriters had to work harder on their stories. He was treated as an outsider, hired without due consideration and was ridiculed. The sportswriters were not fair and I include myself in that group.

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However, Childress after a dismal start kept improving the Vikings and has now begun to be treated better by fans and the media. In fact, to my surprise, one of the writers stated that he liked Childress personally. It’s a little difficult to remember now, but Childress put his career on the line when he was able to sign Brett Favre. If Favre had flamed out, so would have Childress. Favre did not and Childress now has a new four-year contract for his bravery and unless something unforseen happens is set financially for life.

Down the street a couple of miles east, it’s a far different story with Minnesota Gophers football head coach Tim Brewster. Brewster is in trouble, not only with sportswriters, but with some of the fans and alumni. He is in the third year of a four-year contract and usually the athletic director takes a coach aside at that time, gives him a new contract and announces to the world, how fortunate the program is to have a coach of “his or her name’s” ability. That hasn’t happened and if Brewster is not already working a 60-hour week, he better begin.

Tim Brewster is on the cusp and he need not have been if the Gophers, had beaten Illinois, the worst team in the Big Ten, at home. They didn’t and the Gopher offense has looked sad against South Dakota State University. They continued their offensive futility against Iowa.

It wasn’t so much the Gophers lost and almost lost, it was the steady march downhill at the hands of what was once one of the Big Ten’s promising quarterbacks. Brewster has to right the ship and he better do it before his Bowl game.

On the positive side, Minnesota’s other large revenue producing program, the basketball team under coach Tubby Smith is doing well. It was expected by all that Smith would do so and he has. Minnesota was invited to the NCAA Tournament his second year and this year’s team should contend for the Big Ten championship. Smith was received with open arms at Minnesota and so far his reception has been justified. Tubby Smith did not need Minnesota, but the Gophers sure needed him after the Clem Haskins scandal and the Dan Monson futility years. Gophers Athletic Director Joel Maturi gave Monson all the time in the world and under most ADs, Monson would have been gone at least a year earlier.

Maturi has been very slow in pulling the plug on his coaches and it could be that he will give football coach Brewster one more year to channel his enthusiasm into wins.