Tim Brewster Fired as Minnesota Football Coach, Effective Immediately
Brewster was fired Sunday morning, effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton, the third coordinator in the last three years at Minnesota, will take over the team on an interim basis.
In the end, Minnesota had virtually no choice. Brewster was a dismal 15-30 at Minnesota, and the Gophers couldn't afford to keep floundering without making a change.
"While I appreciate the passion and commitment that coach Brewster has shown, it is clear that a change in the leadership of Gopher football is necessary," athletic director Joel Maturi said in the school's statement. "We have high aspirations for our football program and we are not satisfied with its current direction. The results so far this season have been unacceptable and the program has simply not shown enough improvement over the past three and a half years to continue with the status quo."
Brewster was hired in 2007 after Maturi fired Glen Mason, just one year after Mason signed a contract extension. The decision was made after Mason's Gophers blew a 38-7 lead in an Insight Bowl loss to Texas Tech. Maturi admitted at the time the bowl loss was a part of the school's decision.
Maturi took a risk, hiring a coach in Brewster who had no experience as a head man. He had been an assistant with the Denver Broncos before getting the call. He was touted as an ace recruiter who would upgrade Minnesota's talent and make the program competitive.
Instead, things appeared to go the other way. Brewster's first team went 1-11, including a dismal 0-8 in Big Ten play. it lost at home to Football Championship Subdivision newcomer North Dakota State. He took the Gophers to bowl games the last two years, but neither team was very good, and the Gophers never were a contender in the Big Ten, even though Brewster came to town with promises of Rose Bowls and Big Ten titles. Minnesota went 6-21 in Big Ten play under Brewster.
Making matters worse, Minnesota won none of its rivalry games, going 0-10 in so-called "trophy games" with Brewster as the head coach. It couldn't beat Wisconsin, Iowa, or Michigan. In most cases, it didn't even come close.
Before moving to TCF Bank Stadium after the 2008 season, Minnesota closed out its time at the Metrodome with a 55-0 loss to Iowa. The same season, the worst Michigan team in years beat Minnesota by three touchdowns at the Metrodome. Wisconsin has made regular practice of beating Minnesota, as the Gophers haven't claimed Paul Bunyan's Axe since a late field goal beat the Badgers in 2003.
Horton has head-coaching experience. He spent one year at Nevada before moving to UNLV in 1994. He made an impact immediately, as UNLV won the Big West and the Las Vegas Bowl in 1994, but Horton's teams didn't succeed after that. He has a career record of 20-48. Since leaving UNLV, he has served as an assistant at Wisconsin before working as an offensive assistant with the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions.
Minnesota hosts Penn State and Ohio State the next two weeks, with the Penn State game possibly representing the best chance for Minnesota to avoid a second 0-8 Big Ten record in four years.