Loyal readers might recall the amusing (and strange) RandBall Twitter Challenge from a year ago. In that challenge, we pitted Brewster against then-Wolves player Brian Cardinal in a battle to see who could get to 1,500 Twitter followers first. The catch was that neither was really playing (at least not right away). It was a competition created on a whim, out of thin air, but it stuck. (Note: It also didn't help either man's job security).
Cardinal had an early edge, but Brewster made a late surge and took home the title. We contacted the U of M to see if we might be able to present Brewster with his prize (a RandBall T-shirt), and to our surprise it was indeed something in which the coach was interested.
As we, ourselves, sit on 1,499 Twitter followers as of Tuesday morning -- two days after Brewster was fired, and more than a year after he topped that mark -- we couldn't help but remember thinking that for whatever faults Brewster had on or off the field, it was more than decent of a sweaty Big Ten football coach who had just finished a jog to take a media member who had freshly made fun of him for a claim about his coaching record and invite him into his office for an interview and a T-shirt presentation. His answers to three questions that day, along with that picture you see, tell a lot of the story of who we think he is:
• Brewster said some, but not all, of his "Tweets" actually come from him. The rest are from staff members. Why use Twitter in the first place? "I think Twitter is an innovative outlet for people to get a message out and talk about things that are fun and of interest to that particular person. ... I think we try to stay ahead of the curve. ... What we're trying to do is sell our program. I don't know that Minnesota football and Gopher sports have been as publicized or sold as well as they can be."
• About the coaching record flap, which centered around how victories amassed while Brewster was an assistant coach were being characterized in terms of his overall record: "I think that was an innocent deal that people made much more of than they should have. What we were trying to say is that I've been around some great coaches and programs. People like you and other people blew it up. ... It's unfortunate that it was taken out of context. ... I can also see where it can be misconstrued."
• Cardinal looked for a while like he was going to win, only to succumb to a late Brewster rally. He said: "You have to hate losing more than you love winning. That's the mantra I live by. I'm an extremely competitive person. ... It was really cool at the end how Gopher Nation responded and said, 'Let's get it over the top.' The message went out that we were in the fourth quarter and down two. We wanted to win."
That's Brewster as far as we could tell: A guy who would do anything if he thought it would help him sell the Gophers football program. A guy who didn't quite understand how or why people reacted to him the way they did. And a guy who wanted to win so bad that even beating an NBA bench player in a made-up Twitter contest meant something. Even if his team was more often than not down by at least two in the fourth quarter, and the rally inevitably came up short.