Eventually, the ability to avoid victory in astounding fashion became the Gophers' identity, rather than gifted backs running behind a mobile, cut-blocking line.
Mason's final game was one of those losses, of course -- a 38-7 lead over Texas Tech turned into a 44-41 overtime loss Friday night in something called the Insight Bowl.
Mason had this remarkable achievement in his decade on the job: He took a program mired in ineptitude and produced a modicum of success, and did so while gaining little equity with the public.
One word always was close at hand with Mason.
"I think Glen in some ways was misunderstood by the general public," said Tom Moe, Maturi's predecessor as A.D. and a Mason golf partner. "He was a very warm and caring person. I think he was also very sensitive."
The public never saw it. The media never saw it. What we saw was this: a guy who came off as if he considered himself God's gift to football.
An 8-4 turnaround in his third season (1999). We could put up with that. A 10-3 season including a bowl victory in 2003. We could put up with that.
But we didn't really celebrate these things, because of Mason's low likability factor.
And when things went backward, we cheered Maturi's decision to pull the plug on a high-profile coach perhaps early rather than clearly late.
I will guarantee this, though: When Mason gets that $3.6 million going-away stipend, he will be leaving Minnesota with that dang smirk attached to his mug for life.