Gophers regroup after loss to South Dakota
MINNEAPOLIS — In three rocky seasons as the leader of the Minnesota football program, Tim Brewster has been the picture of optimism.
After his fourth got off to another ugly start following a 41-38 defeat to South Dakota there were no silver linings pointed to or golden lessons learned.
"I'm disappointed for our fans, that we didn't win the game Saturday," Brewster said on Tuesday. "We had an amazing fan turnout. We had a great student section. That's the biggest disappointment that I have, that I didn't deliver a victory to our fans on Saturday. Our fans deserve a victory. They deserved a victory Saturday. So that disappointment, it runs really deep for me."
As the Gophers (1-1) began for a week of preparation for a game against 18th-ranked Southern Cal (2-0), Brewster tried to turn the page on a loss that threatened to linger over the entire season and had many fans calling for his ouster.
"You've got to take your medicine when you lose a game like we did to South Dakota, which we shouldn't have lost. Period," Brewster said. "I understand that, but I also truly believe in our process and what we're building on our football team. So that gives me great conviction to work extremely hard and deliver to our fans what they deserve."
Brewster isn't the only one feeling the heat. Athletic director Joel Maturi is being criticized heavily for hiring a coach who had never been a coordinator, much less a head coach, before taking over the Gophers.
And despite doing their best to insulate themselves from what is being written in the newspapers and said on radio and television, the players haven't been able to completely avoid hearing the vitriol.
"Unfortunately," quarterback and receiver MarQueis Gray said, "it's everywhere we go."
Defenders of the program have said that Minnesota spends far too little on the football team and can't be expected to compete with the best of the Big Ten while operating under such fiscal constraints.
It's difficult to compare the spending of each Big Ten school on football apples-to-apples because accounting practices differ across the conference.
For instance, the Gophers submit a report to the NCAA annually that details spending and revenues. The most recent report has Michigan spending more than $18 million in 2008-09 on football while Minnesota spends just over $9 million.
But, according to Minnesota athletic department CFO Elizabeth Eull, there are accounting differences that make that gap appear larger than it really is. The cost of tuition at Michigan is much more expensive than it is at Minnesota, meaning the Wolverines pay $4 million to fund 85 scholarships while the Gophers need just $1.7 million for their 85.
Ohio State also included $3.5 million in its spending for bowl travel that season. The Gophers do not include bowl trip expenses in that report.
The Gophers also spring for charter flights to every trip besides the four-hour bus ride to Wisconsin, as well as the hotels and other amenities that most other Big Ten schools provide.
"I don't think there's a whole lot our football and men's basketball teams go without," Eull said.
That said, there is no disputing that schools like Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan do spend more money than Minnesota does on its program, adding luxuries such as additional strength coaches and recruiters to staffs and paying their coaches millions more in salary. Those programs also benefit from higher revenue streams produced by consistently successful programs.
"I'm not at a great disadvantage by the amount of money we spend," Brewster said. "We spend less money, that's a fact, OK? So what I've got to do is I've got to take the amount of money that I have and I've got to maximize it. I've got to do a better job with what I have, and I accept that."
And when it comes down to it, Brewster said, the loss to the Coyotes on Saturday had nothing to do with money.
"I can win with what we have. I should've beat — we should've beat — South Dakota on Saturday with what we have," Brewster said. "I don't have an excuse for losing to South Dakota because we're not spending more money on football. We're spending enough money for me to win football games. It's my job to win football games, and I think as we move forward and win more football games we'll spend more money on football."