College Football Overtime (cont.)
So Minnesota wins the 2010 award for fastest coaching firing. By axing the flailing Tim Brewster on Oct. 17, AD Joel Maturi beat 2009 winner Memphis (Tommy West) by three weeks, but couldn't quite match 2008 winner Clemson, which ousted Tommy Bowden on Oct. 13.
Brewster's dismissal was inevitable, what with a 15-30 record and the program slinking to a 1-6 start (including losses to South Dakota and Northern Illinois) at a time when the program should really be building momentum following last year's opening of TC Bank Stadium. Rarely have I seen a coach as outwardly loathed as Brewster, who burned through six coordinators in four seasons and purportedly butted heads with nearly anyone connected to the program. Maturi delivered this parting shot Sunday when delivering a message to Brewster's hypothetical successor.
"You're not following Vince Lombardi here," said Maturi.
Well, Joel, you're not exactly Jeremy Foley, either.
Scroll back through the recent annals of Minnesota history. In 2006, Maturi gave then-coach Glen Mason a lucrative four-year extension only to turn around and fire him a year later after the Gophers blew a 31-point lead in the Insight Bowl, costing the school roughly $3.6 in buyouts and deferred compensation. As Mason's replacement, he hired a tight ends coach from the Denver Broncos who'd never even served as a coordinator at the college or pro level. Now, he's pledging to find "a Tubby Smith" for football, referring to the Gophers' revered hoops coach.
Would you trust this guy to make the right hire?
If "high profile" is Maturi's top priority (and it probably should be to generate buzz for the program), one has to think the guy who delivered Mason's Insight Bowl death blow, former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, is near the top of the list. (Maturi said he contacted Tony Dungy, but that the alum is not interested.) By opening the job now, Maturi gets a head start in the courtship. There's nothing stopping him from contacting the unemployed Leach tomorrow.
But somehow that move probably makes too much sense.
Brady Hoke is at it again. The coach who turned long-dormant Ball State into a 12-win team two years ago is now working his magic at San Diego State. The Aztecs, who last posted a winning season in 1998, notched their first win over a ranked foe in 14 years Saturday, edging No. 23 Air Force 27-25. Standout freshman tailback Ronnie Hillman ran for 191 yards on 24 carries.
"We fought all 60 minutes, and that's something you have not seen out of an Aztecs team in a long time," said quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Remarkably, 4-2 San Diego State is only a couple plays from being 6-0. It came within 51 seconds of knocking off Missouri in Columbia, losing 27-24 on a 68-yard touchdown pass, and lost 24-21 to BYU last week in part due to a botched replay review of a fumble call so egregious it got three officials suspended.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said after Saturday's game that the Aztecs "should easily win eight games this year," another feat the program hasn't accomplished since 1996. San Diego State's rise from the grave is surely welcome news for Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, who desperately needs one of his incumbent programs to help fill the void once Utah and BYU leave next year.
Mini-previews for three of this week's big games:
LSU at Auburn, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): The home team has an explosive offense and an extremely suspect defense. The visitors have a dominant defense and ludicrously suspect offense. It should be fun, and it should be entertaining, because CBS will insist that Les Miles stage a last-minute drive regardless of the score.
Oklahoma at Missouri, Saturday (8 p.m. ET): I never considered how many Tigers play college football until writing these first two game capsules. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones is coming off a ridiculous 30-of-34 night against Iowa State, but has frequently struggled away from Norman. This will be a great litmus test.
Wisconsin at Iowa, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Wisconsin coach Bielema, an Iowa alum, has a Hawkeye tattoo on his calf. Kirk Ferentz's team has tattooed Wisconsin the past two seasons, but the Badgers are much more physical this time around. It's a matter of whether they avoid a post-Ohio Sate hangover.
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