Patrick Reusse: Reality does the twist in hands of some local losers

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2007 - 6:47 PM

The Vikings owner and this market's two most prominent football coaches are using some creative ways to bend the truth and some classic ways, too.

There is always some spin that takes place when pro teams and major college programs become losers.

There is also a difference between spin and trying to play the sporting public as if it were a collection of saps.

Dan Monson was relentless with that second tactic. The further he went into his failed seven-year tenure, the more he tried to blame post-Clem Haskins recruiting restrictions for his predicament.

When the program was destroyed and he was run out seven games into the 2006-07 schedule, Monson still refused to take responsibility for the miserable condition in which he was leaving the Gophers.

The most proficient losers on the Twin Cities scene at the moment are the Timberwolves.

You can bash everything about the operation, except this: Kevin McHale has tried goofy things, such as firing Dwane Casey as coach, but he hasn't made outrageous excuses when those have failed. His basic message has been, "We're bad, and that falls on me."

Certainly, that differentiates McHale from what's going on these days with the lads of autumn, the Vikings and the football Gophers. When it comes to treating fans as if they were idiots, Monson was a minor leaguer in contrast to Zygi Wilf, Brad Childress and Tim Brewster.

Wilf established a new standard for testing our naïveté last week when he told an audience at the Carlson School of Management that building him a billion-dollar stadium would not enrich his bottom line as the Vikings owner.

This makes it official: Every word uttered by Wilf concerning his football business should be taken as obfuscation, at best, or a big fat lie, at worst.

And it's not the stadium rhetoric that's brought out the worst in Zygi. What makes you want to punch yourself in the forehead is this idea he's pushing that we all should have realized the Vikings were in a rebuilding mode way back on Jan. 6, 2006, when Childress was announced as the new coach.

On that day at Winter Park, Wilf talked about moving upward from the 9-7 record of the 2005 season. Twenty-one months later, the Vikings have gone 7-13, and the owner and the coach want us to believe everything is right on track.

He was asked this question after last week's speech: "How soon did you expect results when you hired Childress? In Year 2?"

To which Wilf responded: "No, not at all. This is an organization, when we took over, that needed a lot of personnel, from a personnel director to players ..."

Childress broke out the rebuilding theme as his team collapsed in the final weeks of last season. He will be working it hard again if this 1-3 start turns into something worse.

Yet, this is the same coach who on the day of his hiring noted he was inheriting a 9-7 team and said, "Out of the jobs that are open in the NFL, this is the plum job."

Childress also took a quote from Sam Rutigliano, a former coach with the Cleveland Browns. "Rutigliano said, 'We will be like Vikings. We're going to go ashore, burn the boats and never look back,' " he said. "We are never looking back. Today we go ashore."

It's an extra-large dose of hogwash that Zygi and Chilly are asking the sporting public to swallow, and still it doesn't make them the current champs when it comes to playing us for saps. That distinction belongs to Brewster, and he has gained it only halfway through his first season of coaching Gophers football.

He started with three nonconference games against non-BCS teams. The Gophers had won 19 in a row against that level of competition.

Brewster went 1-2 and wanted the Gophers fan base, aka Dinkytown, to celebrate the overtime victory over Miami (Ohio) as a grand achievement.

The Gophers opened the Big Ten at home by losing by the exact betting lines -- 14 to Purdue, 23 to Ohio State -- and Brewster thumped his chest as if they were upset victories. On Saturday, he inspired his team to a 40-20 loss to Indiana. A year earlier, 16 of his starters were involved in a 63-26 embarrassment of the Hoosiers.

Five weeks ago, it was suggested here that Brewster "shut up and coach." We now know for sure that he's incapable of the former, and after a half-dozen games, it's not too early to have serious doubts about the latter.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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