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Kevin Schnepf, Published October 19 2010

Schnepf: Maturi tires of Brewster’s sales pitch

Tim Brewster called it the “most miserable experience of my life.”

No, he wasn’t talking about his 2007 Minnesota Gopher football team losing to North Dakota State. He wasn’t talking about this fall’s loss to South Dakota.

Nor was he talking about this past Sunday when he was fired as the leader of Gopher Nation – becoming the first U of M head coach to get the axe in midseason since the football program began in 1892.

No, Tim Brewster was talking about his job as a used car salesman. No joke.

Often accused of being a used car salesman masquerading as a college football coach, Brewster was indeed selling cars back in 1986 in Lafayette, Ind. – where, ironically, his Gopher coaching career came to a crashing halt Saturday with a 28-17 loss to Purdue.

Brewster’s first taste of college coaching was as an assistant at Purdue. But when his head coach got fired, a 26-year-old Brewster was forced to become a used car salesman.

Now at age 50, Brewster appears to have learned more during those few months on the used car lot than he did during his 24 years on a high school, college or NFL football field.

When he was introduced as the man to replace Glen Mason in January 2007, Brewster promised to deliver Minnesota’s first trip to a Rose Bowl since 1962.

That’s like promising a Cadillac, when the buyer knows he’s kicking the tires of a Yugo.

Here’s what Brewster pledged few days before the 2007 loss to NDSU – stressing that he did not want to schedule the Bison again.

“I want to play a non-conference schedule that will help the University of Minnesota in recruiting.”

The sales pitch didn’t convince his boss, Gopher athletic director Joel Maturi. The Bison are scheduled to play the Gophers next year.

Brewster was right, though. The 27-21 loss to the Bison certainly didn’t help recruiting. Here’s what Brewster vowed after he saw nearly one-third of the Metrodome infiltrated by Bison fans.

“We’ve got to put a great football team on the field so we can get a whole lot more Minnesotans in here than the green and gold from North Dakota State. We’ve got to do better. I promise you we’ll recruit extremely hard to do that.”

Three years later, Maturi was no longer buying the sales pitch. Maturi fired the man he thought would produce Minnesota’s first Big Ten title since 1967 – at least finish higher than fourth place, something a Gopher team hasn’t done since 1986.

But oddly enough, Maturi was sounding a lot like Brewster on Sunday. He used the ‘R’ word (Rose Bowl) – when he should be more concerned about beating the Bison or Coyotes first, when he should be more concerned about how he’s going to afford a $1 million to $2 million coach.

Under Maturi, Brewster becomes the third Gopher coach receiving cash for not working. It cost the Gophers $5 million to buy out Mason and basketball coach Dan Monson. And if you’re feeling sorry for Brewster, don’t shed too many tears. He’s getting a $775,000 buyout.

“Our engine is sputtering,” Maturi said. “We need to find a way to fix it.”

It will take more than a used car salesman to do that.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com