Reusse: Rebuild with Kill to stay at slow pace

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 6:45 AM

Jerry Kill’s teams have followed Glen Mason’s blueprint the first two seasons. In Year 3, Mason’s Gophers went 8-4. Don’t expect a repeat.

hide

Jerry Kill is trying to keep expectations low for the Gophers in his third season as their football coach. He could be right.

Lou Holtz left the Gophers hanging when he departed a few days after the conclusion of the 1985 regular season. You couldn’t blame the little fellow for this decision after coaching 22 games here, since the school making the call was Notre Dame.

There have been five head coaches at Minnesota in the 28 years since Holtz.

John Gutekunst (1986-91) hung in there for a while but wound up overmatched. Jim Wacker (1992-96) had disastrous results. Tim Brewster (2007-2010) was a full-blown disaster before being replaced by interim Jeff Horton with five games left in 2010.

Glen Mason was hired on Dec. 14, 1996, to rally the Gophers from disaster No. 1. Jerry Kill was hired on Dec. 6, 2010, to rally the Gophers from disaster No. 2.

Mason was 46 when hired. Kill was 49 when hired. Both had résumés that indicated they were prepared for the huge task of running a Big Ten football program.

The approach taken — to undersell expectations, rather than super-sell as did Wacker and (especially) Brewster — by Mason and Kill was similar. And after two seasons, the rebuilding path has been close to identical.

Mason’s Gophers were 1-7 in the Big Ten and 3-9 overall in 1997. The conference victory was at home vs. Indiana and there was a 22-21 loss to Wisconsin (the first of the heartbreakers that would mark Mason’s so-close decade).

Mason’s Gophers were 2-6 in the Big Ten and 5-6 overall in 1998. They were missing a fourth nonconference game to make them bowl eligible.

Kill’s Gophers were 2-6 in the Big Ten and 3-9 overall in 2011. They were 2-6 in the Big Ten, with four nonconference victories (including one over Syracuse) in 2012. That put them at 6-6 and in a bowl-game loss to Texas Tech.

Mason: first two seasons, 3-13 in Big Ten, 8-15 overall. Kill: first two seasons, 4-12 in Big Ten, 9-16 overall.

Year 3 is moving time for a major college football team, just as Round 3 is moving time in a major golf tournament.

The Gophers did that in 1999 for Mason. Minnesota went 5-3 in the Big Ten and 8-3 in the regular season. The Gophers closed with a three-game winning streak that included a road upset against No. 2-rated Penn State.

The Gophers lost 24-20 in the Sun Bowl to Oregon and Joey Harrington, the Ducks’ sophomore quarterback. They finished Mason’s third season rated No. 20 by the Associated Press.

How did Mason’s program manage such a significant turnaround in Year 3?

Gordy Shaw was among two assistants retained by Mason from Wacker’s staff. The other was Kevin Sumlin, who now has the privilege and anguish of being quarterback Johnny Manziel’s head coach at Texas A&M.

“My personal opinion is that Coach Mason, talent-wise, inherited a much-different situation than what Wacker inherited,’’ Shaw said. “I’ve believed that if Jim wasn’t forced to fire his defensive coaches, we would’ve squeezed into a bowl game in 1996. But he got orders from above to fire his defensive staff, and everything went to hell.’’

Shaw is now the offensive line coach at Texas State. He became very effective in that role for the Gophers, and in recruiting players from Minnesota and the Midwest.

But 1999, Year 3 for Mason … Shaw said one factor that must be mentioned was the play of senior quarterback Billy Cockerham, a Wacker holdover.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 81 3rd Qtr 1:49
New York 66
Oklahoma City 1:30 PM
San Antonio
Cleveland 4:00 PM
Miami
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 7 1st Half 15:04
Loyola Marymount 8
Ohio 3:00 PM
Nebraska
Colorado 5:30 PM
Hawaii
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close