Gophers direct anger inward over Wisconsin's conversion try last year

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2011 - 12:02 AM

Minnesota players blame themselves more than Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema, whose call for a two-point conversion with a big lead late in last year's game upset former Gophers coach Tim Brewster.

Former Gophers coach Tim Brewster, left, made his point to Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema last year. Bielema called for a two-point conversion with the Badgers ahead by 25 points with 6:39 left.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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His card, Bret Bielema said, told him "Up by 25, go for two." His peer on the opposite sideline told him something else altogether, once the game ended.

"He wasn't happy," Bielema said of Tim Brewster, who used the postgame handshake after last season's 41-23 loss to Wisconsin to berate the Badgers coach over what he felt was an effort to embarrass Brewster's Gophers. "We weren't talking car dealers, I know that."

It was a moment, said Adam Weber, the Gophers quarterback at the time, "that when Wisconsin comes back to Minnesota next year, it's something we'll remember for these young guys."

So do this year's Gophers remember the incident, the play that the Badgers call routine but that Minnesotans feel was a running-up-the-score insult?

"I do, yeah," center Ryan Wynn said. "Looking back on it, it's kind of crappy they got a two-point conversion on us."

But Wynn said his anger over that day isn't directed at Bielema and the Badgers, but at himself and his team.

"We didn't play very well. In the end, we went home without the Axe," a factor, he said, that's much more annoying than "losing by one point or by 50."

Brewster was fired eight days after that game, and Jerry Kill took over last December. Kill has a longstanding relationship with Bielema, with whom he used to travel to coaching clinics around the country.

"It's been a good relationship. He's a heck of a football coach," Kill said. "In coaching, you've got a lot of good relationships, because we take enough heat outside that from the rest of the world, so you better stick together. So I have a good relationship with [Bielema]."

That said, he's not opposed to bringing up the incident in front of his team, which will try to win back Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday.

"Will I use any motivation I can get to get our team ready to play?" Kill asked. "You bet."

Kill 'sad' about Penn State

Kill declined to comment on the Penn State scandal and Joe Paterno's future, other than to say that if the 84-year-old coach's career ends this way, "that would be sad."

But Kill also noted that, "as coaches, we get paid a hell of a lot of money, and we have a huge responsibility. We're certainly role models."

The Gophers coach, speaking at his weekly news conference, said he is aware of the child molestation charges against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and while he didn't want to discuss "my personal opinion, I think everyone knows what my opinion would probably be."

It's impossible to know everything that's going on in a program, Kill said, and to know for certain what's in a person's character.

"If I have a problem on our staff, or we have a situation, I'm going to take care of it. No different than I am with a player," Kill said. "I've had to make some hard calls in my life, but I've always felt like they were the right ones."

Mostly, Kill said, he is concerned for society as a whole.

"We've got a lot of problems. My dad told me a long time ago, he said, 'This world is getting messed up,'" Kill said. "So it keeps spinning, and now it's leaked into the coaching and the teaching and all those kinds of things. Sooner or later, I told you all a long time ago when I took the job, kids aren't the problem. Grownups are."

Crawford-Tufts sore but improving

Freshman receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts practiced Tuesday, Kill said, and he hopes to be able to play Saturday.

"He got hit with a helmet in the quadriceps, and those things tighten up on you," Kill said of the receiver, who missed the fourth quarter of last week's loss at Michigan State. "Hopefully we can get him loosened up because he is important to what we do because he can stretch the field vertically."


    Up next: 2:30 p.m. Saturday vs. No. 16 Wisconsin • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN (100.3-FM)

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