Unless the Gophers lose the next two games by a total of 100 points -- to Iowa and in their possible bowl game -- you can rest assured that Tim Brewster will be back as the football coach for his fourth year.

You can criticize the coach, as many have. But he lost two conference games by three points each -- to Wisconsin and Illinois -- and if he had won those two, he would have an 8-3 record (5-2 in the Big Ten) instead of 6-5 after playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi doesn't like to talk about the future of coaches in any sport, but he did say that "I expect Brewster to be back."

Changing coaches hasn't made a difference at Minnesota, especially in football, so on that basis I have to absolutely agree that Brewster should have a chance to coach his own recruits after all the players recruited by his predecessor, Glen Mason, are gone.

Brewster insists that he will have his best team next year because, he said, "We have a lot more athletes than we have had before."

Only four freshmen of last year's recruiting class played this season.

"He's our football coach, and I expect him to be our football coach," Maturi said. "There's always issues there. You know me -- I don't like to be dishonest. And I don't want to be [Alabama coach] Nick Saban and say 'yes,' and then two weeks later say 'no.' But I expect [Brewster] to be our football coach.

"I think you've got two more games to decide that. I'm excited about the passion and the energy that he's brought to this program. I think we have better football players overall than we've had in the past.

"We've beaten three bowl teams [Michigan State, Northwestern, Air Force], and every team that's beat us is going to a bowl except Illinois. I want to see the whole season, and that's the aspect. Everybody's balancing on last week's game and the Illinois game, the last two games, and that's not fair. He needs to be judged over the whole body of work, and we're going in the right direction. I want to look at the whole picture, that's the point I'm trying to make."

Brewster has two more years left on his contract, and rest assured he deserves to be back next year and he will. Whether he gets an extension before next season may be a different story.

Favre has faith

Vikings coach Brad Childress was talking about how well quarterback Brett Favre has teamed up with receiver Sidney Rice, who caught seven passes for 201 yards in last Sunday's victory over the Lions.

"He really has a lot of faith in Sidney," Childress said about Favre. "And if it's a one-on-one situation, he's going to take the ball and he's going to throw it up there and he's going to say, 'He's going to win.' He's going to win a jump-ball contest, he's going to win a ball that he leaves short or on his back shoulder, he just believes that he'll make a play on the ball."

Why is Rice having such a big year?

"Well, he's finally healthy and in his third year as a pro," Childress said. "He's got great length, he's got great hand-eye [coordination], he can out-tall you, he can out-body you, and he's plenty functional running the underneath stuff."

The Vikings were trying to get the one-game record for reception yardage for Rice on Sunday. Sammy White holds the record at 210 yards.

"We knew he needed 10 more yards, and they threw it to him out there by the stick, and you know, he's made 60 tougher catches than that and he bobbled it," Childress said. "I said, 'You got one chance at it and that was it.'"

Looking back to Sunday's game, when the team didn't exactly shine on offense, especially in the first half, Childress didn't blame it on the week off.

"I didn't think rusty in terms of being able to move the ball," Childress said. "We moved the ball all over. It was just a matter of, it was like a greased pig, we couldn't hold on to the damn thing."

Running back Adrian Peterson fumbled a ball going into the end zone.

"Yeah, right there, and we fumbled the one on the reverse to Percy [Harvin] as well," Childress said. "You can't give away points like that, particularly when you're playing good football teams."

Speaking about the 8-1 record Childress said: "We've got a decent record after the bye week, and I think it just serves us well in the long haul. I liked the fact that we clicked up, we got eight now instead of seven, and still plenty of things to improve on. I can bring those guys back and talk about how we need to improve and it will have meaning to it."


Dick Hunegs, the lawyer for former Gophers assistant basketball coach Jimmy Williams, will go to court against the University of Minnesota on May 13 in an effort to prove that Williams quit his job at Oklahoma State because coach Tubby Smith rehired him as a Gophers assistant and then was denied the job by Maturi.

The U2 concert scheduled for TCF Bank Stadium on June 27 is one of four outside events that can be held at the stadium under an agreement with the stadium and nearby neighborhood association. ... Former-Gophers receiver Logan Payne was released by the Seahawks after two seasons with the team. He had tryouts with Green Bay, Atlanta, Cleveland and the Vikings but has not signed.

The Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, and team employees paid tribute last Monday to ex-trainer Fred Zamberletti by presenting him a football and a big framed jersey as tribute to his being a part of more than 1,000 games with the organization. Zamberletti was also a part of the pregame coin flip last Sunday when the team played the Lions.

Former St. Thomas Academy and Gophers basketball player Bryce Webster, the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in 2006, had six points and a team-high 14 rebounds for Cal State-Fullerton in the Titans' 68-65 double-overtime upset of UCLA on Monday night at Pauley Pavilion. Webster, a 6-10 junior, started and played 38 minutes for the Titans, whose victory was televised on ESPN as part of its College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Webster is back playing Division I basketball for the first time since he was a freshman with the Gophers in 2006-07. He spent the past two seasons at Irvine Valley College, and didn't play basketball last season to concentrate on academics.

St. Paul native Kyle Okposo will return to Minnesota when his New York Islanders face the Wild Friday. He returns to the team after battling the H1N1 virus and ranks third on the club with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 20 games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com