Gophers' guy: Brewster to replace Mason at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Denver Broncos tight ends coach Tim Brewster will become the new head coach at Minnesota, replacing the fired Glen Mason.

Gophers players were told of the hiring early Tuesday. The university scheduled a news conference for Wednesday.

"He is the guy," associate athletic director Tom Wistrcill said Tuesday.

ESPN's Joe Schad first reported the hiring Monday night.

Brewster's pay package amounts to about $1 million a year, including deferred compensation, according to a memorandum of understanding obtained by The Associated Press. The deal also calls for unspecified bonuses for reaching athletic and academic goals.

The 46-year-old Brewster spent the last two seasons with the Broncos, after three years as tight ends coach for the San Diego Chargers. Before that, he was an assistant at Texas and North Carolina.

Mason was fired Dec. 31, two days after Texas Tech rallied from a 38-7 deficit to complete the biggest comeback in major college bowl history with a 44-41 victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

When the Gophers hired Mason to take over a program that was at the bottom of the Big Ten after Jim Wacker's disastrous tenure, they chose a proven head coach who had also succeeded at Kent State and Kansas.

Brewster, 46, has never been a head coach at the collegiate or professional level. His coaching career started as a graduate assistant at Purdue in 1986 before he became the head coach at Central Catholic High School in Lafayette, Ind., for two seasons.

Brewster then spent nine years as tight ends coach, special teams coach and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina before following head coach Mack Brown to Texas from 1998-2001.

Brewster helped the Longhorns become one of the top recruiting teams in the country during his stay there, luring quarterback Chris Simms and the talent that built the 2005 national championship team, including star quarterback Vince Young.

He left for a tight ends position with the Chargers from 2002-04, where he helped develop Antonio Gates into one of the premier tight ends in football before spending the last two seasons in Denver.

Enthusiastic and energetic, Brewster comes to a school that needs a salesman. The university is set to open a new on-campus football stadium in 2009 but still needs to raise plenty of money to support that effort.

The Gophers have also consistently lost top recruits to other schools in the Midwest, with the most notable recent defection being Wayzata linebacker James Laurinaitis, who won the Bronko Nagurski Award this season as the nation's best defensive player at
Ohio State.

Mason was often criticized for his reluctance to get out and sell the program, both to the state's high school coaches and to boosters and fans.

Support for the team has waned in recent seasons, with fans growing weary of one third-tier bowl appearance after another.

When Maturi announced Mason's firing on Dec. 31, he said the program "needed that new vision, new voice and new leadership for us to attain the championship that we all aspire to."

That means Brewster will be charged with not only building on the progress made under Mason but also reinvigorating a detached fan base.

"How positive can it be? Are students going to be behind us? Are fans going to be behind us? Are we going to have the energy that's necessary that we would like to move forward?" Maturi asked then. "All of those kinds of things add to the decision that was made."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Joe Schad is ESPN TV's national college football reporter.