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Continued: Budget not helping Gophers win games

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 12, 2010 - 11:08 PM

One thing that does not help the University of Minnesota is that its football budget is last in the Big Ten.

According to ncaafootball.fanhouse.com, Ohio State is the Big Ten leader with a budget of $32.3 million. Iowa is second at $26.90 million, followed by Wisconsin ($22.71), Penn State ($19.13), Michigan ($18.03), Michigan State ($15.86), Northwestern ($15.71), Purdue ($12.66), Indiana ($11.84), Illinois ($10.49) and then the Gophers at $9.25 million.

And it's no coincidence the lowest-spending teams in the conference are typically the second-division teams, while the big spenders generally finish at or near the top.

And one of the reasons the Gophers have won just one game against Ohio State since 1981 is that the Buckeyes football budget is 3 1/2 times that of Minnesota.

There has to be some reason why Minnesota hasn't won a Big Ten title for 43 years. Coach Tim Brewster, and Glen Mason before him, both complained about the budget. So did Lou Holtz, but he found a way to get more money and it paid off. In fact just last week, Brewster said it would be easier to build a winning program if the budget was competitive with schools such as Iowa and Wisconsin.

However the big problem at Minnesota is that the large gate receipts that Iowa and Wisconsin have allow them to have the money to spend on football while the Gophers year in and year out are near the bottom in football attendance and revenue.

But the lack of a big budget shouldn't be a reason why Minnesota can't beat a North Dakota State or South Dakota. Even Brewster will admit that.

And the Gophers will have a bigger task awaiting them Saturday when they take on Southern Cal, which is ranked 18th in the country.

U at disadvantage

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, while questioning the overall figures published by the website, did admit the $9.25 million figure was close to what the Gophers spend on football.

Maturi admits that the schools that spend more can have an advantage.

"There's no doubt it's a disadvantage to our football program," Maturi said. "I don't argue that at all. They have more income, they can do more things. We sponsor more sports (25) than Iowa. We sponsor more sports than Wisconsin. Some people are going to say we shouldn't, we can't afford it because it hurts our football program because the pie is only so big to spread around to so many pieces. I don't think there's any doubt about it.

"If I paid this staff more, is this staff better? That would be an argument. Coach Brewster would love to have another strength coach, he'd love to have some other assistants in the recruiting line and things of this nature, and I understand that. I hope someday I'm going to be able to help him out but right now I can't afford it.

"We don't spend as much as Wisconsin or Iowa. I'm not going to argue that. They do spend more than we do. But you have to figure out what you count and determine what you spend: Are they counting debt services on their facilities? Are they counting game-day management? Are they counting these things? We don't count those in our numbers, for example. So you have to make sure that it's apple versus apples. [But] they do spend more money than we do, there's no question."

Maturi said the Gophers spend about $7.5 million on football but that does not count scholarships.

"I think I can get you the grant in aid too, football we spend about $2 million there, so there's about $9.5-plus million just on the operating expenses and the scholarships.''

Maturi said the cost of the football scholarships at Iowa and Wisconsin are about the same as Minnesota.

"Their salaries may be greater," Maturi said. "I'm not going to argue that. In fact, I know it's greater. [Iowa coach Kirk] Ferentz is making a whole lot more money than coach Brewster is, so it's a couple million right there just on his salary, let alone his assistants.

As an example of schools such as Ohio State spending more on football than the Gophers do, Maturi said OSU has four strength trainers while the Gophers have just two.

The disappointing thing is that there was only $1.5 million more in football revenue in the first year at TCF Stadium compared to the last year at the Metrodome, a figure that disappoints school officials.

So the only way to increase football spending is to cut the budgets of other sports or eliminate them.

That's not going to happen under Maturi. But it may under his successor. I don't believe there is an athletic director in the country who treats the non-revenue sports as well as Maturi does.

Jottings

After Saturday's loss, University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks, visiting with friends outside the stadium, got a lot of bad looks from fans leaving the stadium. Sure he is disappointed but he stands behind Brewster and expects things to get better. Bruininks retires next year so he won't have to worry about hiring football coaches in the future.

The Gophers got their 15th commitment Saturday in the person of Cameron Brown, a 6-2 195-pound receiver from Frisco, Texas.

Former Gophers defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg was recently released by the Ravens after serving on the practice squad last year. He is a very close friend of Gophers fullback Jon Hoese and his family. Hoese's father, Terry, died last Monday. VanDeSteeg, who played at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School with the Gophers fullback, plans to spend time helping work on the farm to overcome the sudden loss of Terry.

... The lack of alcohol being available in the executive boxes of Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena is making it tough to sell them, according to former Gophers hockey coach Doug Woog, who is in charge of the sales.

Joe Coleman, the Hopkins basketball player who is the top prospect in the state, visited the Minnesota campus Friday with his mother. He is going to make trips to Santa Clara and Iowa State but there is a good chance he will follow his brother Dan to Minnesota. Dan is playing basketball in France.

Josh Oglesby of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was on the campus last week. The third recruit they are targeting, Naadir Tharpe of Worchester, Mass., is expected to visit this weekend.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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