There are rumors that coach Tim Brewster was performing a service beyond the promotion of Gophers football as the featured speaker at Friday's preseason luncheon in St. Paul.

As you might be aware, a large number of Republicans will gather inside Xcel Energy Center over the first four days of September.

Clearly, a tremendous amount of hot air will build up inside the arena. When convention sessions end and the exits open, that blast of heat will be released into the St. Paul atmosphere.

The security force has been worried as to what the hot air could do to the structural integrity of some older downtown buildings.

And that's why the convention planners went to Brewster and said: "Coach Brew, we just need a 15-minute pep talk. If our buildings can withstand that much hot air, four days of Republican speechmaking will be no problem."

Sure enough, Brewster started his address to a couple of hundred Gophers fans with a tribute to the upcoming Republican convention. "It's a great opportunity for us all," he said, meaning Minnesotans.

He then took the opportunity to thank Charley Walters and Marcus Fuller, two St. Paul Pioneer Press reporters, for their coverage of the Gophers and asked them to stand to be recognized. They weren't there.

The groups behind Friday's gathering were the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the Goal Line Club and corporate sponsor TDS Metrocom.

The emcee was Dave Mona, successful PR man, author and one-third of the football announcing team on radio. Even Dave, true maroon Gopher that he is, must be sheepish about embracing Brewster's "Gopher Nation" nonsense.

Kurt Daugherty spoke for a few moments in behalf of TDS Metrocom, admitting he was a Wisconsin man. Mona blew his follow-up line by saying, "Badger Nation is willing to open its arms to Badger converts."

Gopher Nation doesn't roll off the tongue, does it, Dave? Not when you have been here through the 40-year slump and know the truth about the size of the Gophers football fan base, which is:

For every Minnesotan living and dying with the Gophers on a Saturday, there are 20 doing so with the Vikings on a Sunday.

Admittedly, that ratio could be lessened somewhat --maybe 1-to-15 -- next fall when the Gophers move into the on-campus stadium. Friday's festivities started with a videotaped look at the new facility and it's going to be a very impressive place.

"This is 2008, and all we're thinking about is Northern Illinois," Brewster said.

OK, Coach Brew, you keep thinking about next Saturday's opener with Northern Illinois, and nearly every football follower in Minnesota will keep thinking about the Vikings at Green Bay on Sept. 8.

Brewster's first year on the job resulted in a 1-11 record that was the worst in Gophers history. He went 1-3 in nonconference games: beating Miami (Ohio), losing to Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic, and being humiliated by North Dakota State.

The fact that Brewster managed to go 1-3 against non-BCS teams in Year 1 doesn't change the fact that only a complete dunce could place any importance in watching his second team go 4-0 against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic.

Glen Mason had an 18-game winning streak against non-BCS teams when he was fired.

An aside: Did you see that Mason's first four assignments this fall for the Big Ten Network involve visits to Big Ten stadiums by Coastal Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Southern Illinois and Temple?

If anything is going to make our guy Mase fired up to coach again, this will be it: watching four teams that remind him of his nonconference schedules at Minnesota.

On Friday, 30-some players were in attendance. Several were wearing paste-on mustaches, in tribute to a 1983 interview with Brewster that some players ran across. He was a tight end at Illinois and was featuring a mustache.

The luncheon crowd got quite a chuckle over the byplay between the players and Brewster over the paste-on mustaches.

Soon, Brewster was convincing the audience to stand with the players and chant, "We are ... Minnesota." And then the doors to the Crowne Plaza hotel opened, the hot air escaped and the downtown buildings stood.

Bring on the Republicans!

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. •