The Vikings have a new coach, but it's going to take the Gophers a while longer to find theirs. But perhaps not too much longer.
Indications on campus are that the Gophers' administration has essentially finished the first part of its hunt for Tim Brewster's successor, which is the formulation of a concrete list of candidates and the initial, informal approach, usually done through agents, to determine who would consider the job and who wouldn't. That's about all the school can do until the regular season ends, because coaches generally won't talk to prospective suitors while the season is in progress.
But the light is about to turn green. Air Force finished its 8-4 season last Thursday, meaning Troy Calhoun is likely approachable while the Falcons wait for their bowl invitation. Houston's finale, and its last chance to become bowl eligible, comes Saturday, freeing up Kevin Sumlin next week. Brady Hoke's San Diego State Aztecs, who have blown two-touchdown leads against ranked opponents for two straight weeks, can still finish on a high note Saturday against UNLV.
For Gopher fans thinking big, Stanford (Jim Harbaugh) and Mississippi State (Dan Mullen) are done on Saturday, while Arizona (Mike Stoops) finishes on Dec. 2.
Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has been available all along, of course, and made news Sunday by saying he has no interest in the vacant Colorado job. "The timing wasn't right for me," Bellotti told the Denver Post. The ESPN analyst's son is a junior in high school and Bellotti said he doesn't want to leave Oregon until after he graduates.
So what happens now? Athletic director Joel Maturi will begin making formal contacts with the candidates who interest him most, and likely schedule formal interviews with some. It's hard to tell how long the process might take; in an interview with the Minnesota Daily published Monday, outgoing university president Robert Bruininks said "we hope to get this concluded by the holidays, if possible."
Bruininks, by the way, reiterated that the Gophers prefer "a sitting head coach," as opposed to a coordinator, and someone with "strong ethical principles and values" and "deeply committed to the academic values of the University of Minnesota." Those goals aren't new, but offer solid hints about who isn't on the list.