U fires Mason, seeks new football 'vision'

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 31, 2006 - 11:29 PM

Athletic director Joel Maturi acknowledged the Gophers' historic collapse in the Insight Bowl was a factor.

Exactly one year to the day after he received a new five-year contract, Glen Mason was fired Sunday as the University of Minnesota's football coach.

Mason's ouster came at the end of his 10th season and two days following his team's historic collapse in a 44-41 loss to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl.

The timing caught many by surprise because Mason had just completed the first year of his new long-term deal and national signing day for high school recruits is Feb. 7. But athletic director Joel Maturi said he and university President Robert Bruininks concluded that the program needed "a new vision, a new voice."There are no guarantees," Maturi said at a news conference. "I do believe sometimes a change in voice, in vision and leadership brings you some hope and some energy. I believe that was needed for this football program at this time."

The decision also had financial implications. Mason will receive a $2.2 million buyout plus an additional $1.4 million in deferred compensation from his previous contract. However, Mason's contract stated that on Jan. 1, 2007, the university would guarantee him an additional $1 million in deferred compensation. The school saved that money by firing him Sunday.

"That was not the principal factor, but it was a consideration," university general counsel Mark Rotenberg said.

Mason's firing means the athletic department will pay roughly $4 million in buyouts to Mason and men's basketball coach Dan Monson, who accepted his buyout on Nov. 30. Maturi said his department will have to borrow money from the university's central administration to help cover those costs.

Maturi said a search for Mason's replacement will begin immediately. The school might be forced to act quickly because national signing day is 38 days away and recruits need to know who will be their coach.

Maturi is expected to meet this week with Mason's nine assistant coaches, whose contracts were not renewed, to determine whether any will remain to help bridge the gap until a coach is hired.

"[Signing day] will certainly make us hurry the search, but I don't want to do it so quickly that we don't hire the best long-term fit for the University of Minnesota," Maturi said.

The new coach will inherit a program in better shape than the one Mason found. The Gophers had six consecutive losing seasons before Mason's arrival in 1997.

Mason compiled a 123-121 record, made seven bowl game appearances and built one of the most prolific rushing offenses in NCAA history. However, he had a 32-48 Big Ten record and never finished higher than fourth place in the conference. His teams also never earned a spot in a top-tier bowl game.

Mason did not respond to an interview request from the Star Tribune but released a statement through the school that said "no specific explanation was provided" for his firing. "Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed," Mason said.

The announcement stood in stark contrast to a year ago when Mason and Maturi agreed to a new contract on New Year's Eve and talked glowingly about the future.

"I'm ecstatic and Glen's ecstatic," Maturi said that night.

The Gophers, however, endured a tumultuous 2006 season that culminated with an embarrassing loss Friday in the Insight Bowl. The Gophers led 38-7 in the third quarter but squandered the 31-point lead to lose in overtime. It was the largest collapse in Division I-A bowl game history and it gave the Gophers a 6-7 record -- their first losing season since 2001.

Maturi said he doesn't make "knee-jerk" decisions, but he admitted Friday's game had a major impact. "I think if we had not lost the way that we lost, we probably wouldn't be here today," he said.

Asked if he was inundated with e-mails from angry fans, Maturi said simply: "Yes."

Maturi acknowledged many factors led him to his decision. The Gophers started 3-6, including 0-5 in the Big Ten, causing members of the student section to chant "Fire Mason" at several home games. Mason created a firestorm by blasting the students, his critics and underage drinking at the Metrodome.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close