Players aren't sucked into Brewster spin

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2009 - 10:26 AM

Listen to the comments, and it appears easier for the U coach to sidestep 55-0 rout than his athletes.

Tim Brewster

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

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Tim Brewster attaches his name to a blog at brewcrewreport.com. Earlier this year, the introduction to this item included the information that Brewster carried an all-time coaching record of 113-61-1 -- an amazing feat for what was then two years as a head coach.

When the victories come that fast and furious for a football man, it's understandable that he might be confused on the winning that took place in his time as a tight end for Illinois in the early 1980s.

Brewster and the Illini did win the Big Ten in 1983 and played in the Rose Bowl. This week, he recalled a trip to Iowa City as another notable moment at Illinois.

Asked about the visitors' locker room in Kinnick Stadium that is famously adorned in pink, Brewster offered an anecdote: "[Coach] Mike White, when we went in there the first time, he put meat locker paper all over it. Covered the whole locker room. You didn't see an ounce of pink anywhere.''

Did you win the game?

"We did; we did,'' Brewster said. "But I don't think it had to do with the paper."

As it turns out, White's paper hanging went for naught. Brewster played only once in Iowa City and the Illini lost 14-13.

The pastel greeting for opponents has not been a boost to the 2009 Hawkeyes. They have been gallant on the road in the Big Ten, winning at Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State and losing in overtime at Ohio State.

Inside Kinnick, Iowa's 5-1 record includes a one-point victory over Northern Iowa, a two-point victory over Michigan, a three-point victory over Arkansas State, a fourth-quarter comeback victory over Indiana and an upset loss to Northwestern.

What this should say to the Gophers is that there's a chance to put polish on a tarnished season, as well as make amends for the 2008 regular-season finale in which this year's upperclassmen know that they quit s a team.

That was the Gophers' last game in the Metrodome. The final was 55-0 for Iowa. It was Minnesota's worst in a Western/Big Ten conference game -- an affiliation dating to 1896. And, when you remember Iowa was a mere six-point favorite, that game surpasses the 84-13 loss to Nebraska in 1983 as the poorest effort in the history of the program.

Brewster was asked what he planned to do with 55-0 this week.

"I think those that refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it,'' he said. " ... We certainly understand last year's football game. We can't dwell on it, obviously, because that's last year. This is a totally new and different team.

"This football team is going to do everything in their power to go down to Iowa City, to play well and, certainly, to have an opportunity to win."

This made it sound as if Brewster planned to tread lightly on 55-0.

And then an interview with defensive tackle Eric Small included this aside: "They probably don't respect us very much."

So, there it was: the contrast in Brewster's spin on 55-0 to reporters ("We can't dwell on it'') and his pitch to players ("Iowa doesn't respect you'').

There are players on this team that don't need clichés about disrespect shouted at them this week. The sting of 55-0 was there without Brewster's predictable reminders.

"To get beat like that ... it still hurts,'' said tight end Nick Tow-Arnett, who then added: "We're a lot stronger now than at the end of last year.''

Linebacker Nate Triplett, finally a starter in his fifth season with the Gophers, filled in for injured Lee Campbell against the Hawkeyes a year ago. He was asked about the "shock'' of the Iowa loss and said:

"It wasn't so much shock as being really disappointed in the way we had played. It was a big rival and we weren't in the game. Individually, I had to put it behind me and play much better.''

Triplett has done so in 2009. His 95 tackles are second on the Gophers to Campbell's 106. Simoni Lawrence, the third senior linebacker, is next with 73 tackles.

What would a road upset mean over a team that administered a historic humiliation last November?

"I'd love it,'' Triplett said. "It would make my career.''

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 STP. • preusse@startribune.com

  • GOPHERS FOOTBALL REGULAR SEASON FINALE 11 a.m. Saturday at Iowa • TV: ESPN (830-AM)

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