Tim Brewster's search for an offensive coordinator started with a boast of delivering a "killer shot" with the hire and wound up going as smoothly as John Roberts' attempt to administer a presidential oath. After a handful of false starts, Brewster settled for Jedd Fisch, an unemployed 32-year-old, and then ordered a news release that made it sound as if he had hired the second coming of Don Coryell.

The pursuit of a replacement for Mike Dunbar took on such a slapstick quality early this month that the Portly Scribe started receiving messages with this theme:

"Are you feeling OK, big fella? You haven't made light of the fact Coach Brew has gone from promising a killer shot to considering a call to Dolphin temporary services for recommendations."

The PS contemplated this call for action and decided on a novel tack. He sent an e-mail to Brewster and asked for an interview.

The coach agreed -- not a surprise, considering it was the PS who wrote a column filled with Brewster accolades from recruiting expert Tom Lemming that appeared on the very morning that Coach Brew's hiring was announced.

When everyone in the local sporting public was saying "no" to this unknown, career-long assistant, it was the PS who said "yes," creating a bond that was played out in the coach's large office at the Nagurski-Gibson Football Complex on Friday morning.

"You are full of beans and you are a jerk," said Brewster, and we're using synonyms for the descriptive nouns.

This wasn't said out of nowhere, since the e-mail requesting the interview had encouraged candor from both parties.

Brewster was curious as to when the office visitor decided to make the transition from being the new coach's first Minnesota media booster to adopting a mildly cynical attitude toward his tenure.

"You had me in your pocket until the first time the phrase 'Gopher Nation' came off your lips," the PS said. "At that moment, I realized you, too, were full of beans, and that I had a sacred obligation to point this out to subscribers to the Star Tribune, as well as freeloaders on startribune.com."

Brewster seemed to feel that five minutes into his first news conference was an unfairly brief honeymoon for the new football coach at the big state university.

We batted that around for a while -- with the coach taking the healthy cuts -- and then he was asked about last week's main issues:

Hiring Fisch. Brewster was linked to trying to hire Jim Chaney, Major Applewhite, Josh Heupel, Jeff Horton and Todd Fitch. Finally, Fisch was hired and the Brewster-ordered release made it seem as if the kid rejected NFL head coaching jobs to serve as the Gophers coordinator.

"I wanted to make sure that people understood that this is a young guy who is really sharp," Brewster said. "He's 32 years old and everyone who has been around him says great things.

"We're having dinner together and Jedd gets a text message from Peyton Manning ... and Peyton's asking him to come to Indianapolis to be the quarterback coach."

So, why wasn't he pursued earlier? "You try to interview as many good people as possible and absorb information," Brewster said. "Jedd was always on the list. I knew we would get to him eventually."

Academics. The information surfaced that safety Tramaine Brock, a junior college transfer, was ineligible.

Brewster said that hid the real story, which was: "We just had the best semester academically in the history of Minnesota football. We had 42 kids with [grade-point averages of] 3.0s or better.

"I brought in Chris Elrod to direct our academics in football. He's the best in the country. Now, we've added Chris McNelley. They have created a structure for academic success -- study periods, tutoring, class assessment.

"The first thing we've done is to identify if a young man has a learning disability. President [Robert] Bruininks is a huge proponent of giving such students throughout the university the best chance to succeed."

Brewster looked at his visitor with a Bud Grant gaze and said: "You've written that I was basically bringing in terrible students and thugs."

OK, the 2008 recruits with the low ACT profile seem to be getting along academically as a group, but thugs?

"Come on," Brewster said. "You know you wrote that."

You can check those things in the Strib's electronic library and guess what, Coach Brew? You were hired in January 2007. The last time the PS used the word "thugs" (or "thug") in a column was in May 2006.

Meantime, if you Google "Gopher Nation," you get 14,700 hits, any of which still has the potential to cause the old PS to shriek and rush to the nearest keyboard.

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30 to 9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • preusse@startribune.com