CHICAGO - Tim Brewster is just as bullish on the Gophers today as he was when he coached them. And he really wishes he still was coaching them.
"I think it's very evident they have a lot of talent there," said Brewster, who recruited much of the team before being fired as Minnesota's head coach last Oct. 17. "I was very much looking forward to coaching that team this year, because I felt like it was going to be our best team. It's a really talented group of kids."
It's a group that went 3-9 last season, however, and 1-6 while he was around. But not only does Brewster, who attended Big Ten Media Day in his new role as a Fox Sports broadcaster, believe that Jerry Kill's success will vindicate his tenure; he believes it's already begun.
The Gophers upset Illinois and Iowa to finish the 2010 season under interim coach Jeff Horton, victories "that I think spoke volumes about the program and the direction we had it headed, volumes about what we were doing there," Brewster said. "The way they finished the season -- remember, we had 11 new starters on defense -- it shows you that group of kids was coming together. I couldn't have been more proud of my guys."
And he could hardly have been more saddened by the way his job ended.
Athletic director Joel Maturi fired Brewster after the Gophers' sixth consecutive loss, and the 50-year-old coach said the news was devastating.
"Those are hard, hard times. I loved everything about what I was doing, and when you're told you're not going to continue, it's pretty tough," said the coach, 15-30 in his four seasons at Minnesota. "You know, I'm all in. That's my style. Coaching the Gophers meant a lot to me, and that was a very hard deal. But I'm extremely proud of what we did there."
He likes Kill, too, and has spoken with his successor several times. "He's a good man," Brewster said. "He's going to do very well."
Brewster, meanwhile, will be back on the sidelines, albeit as a reporter and studio analyst for Fox, a job that allows him to remain close to college football and the NFL.
"Most [sideline reporters] haven't spent 25 years watching football from a coaching perspective, so I really think I'm going to be able to offer some good insights," he said.
So is he done with coaching?
"I don't know. Let's see how it goes," Brewster said. "Based on what I'm doing now, I really like this stuff."