F Is for Fake
Saturday, October 20, 2007

The genius filmmaker Orson Welles was able to gather enough funding to produce one last movie, F is for Fake, which was released in 1975. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, Welles’s film is “a documentary about fraud and fakers.”

Webster’s New School Dictionary defines fraud as “an act of trickery,” an “artifice” and a “humbug.” A faker is “a peddler of notions on the streets or at fairs.”

Orson Welles died as the result of his many overindulgences in 1985. Had he lived he might have re-released his last film with new scenes featuring the current University of Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster. If anyone in this state remains bamboozled by Brewster they either are hopelessly na´ve or have no knowledge of college athletics in the 21st century. Brewster came to town promising to build a monorail and delivered a burned-out school bus. He has been compared to Lou Holtz, who was described as the deceitful Music Man who sold a bill of goods to the gullible citizens of River City (Minneapolis). This is unfair. Holtz (1) prior to arriving at Minnesota had been a head football coach at William and Mary, North Carolina State, and Arkansas, (2) took a ruin of a Gopher team and produced four victories in his inaugural season, (3) eventually won a national championship at Notre Dame, and (4) could charm an audience with his genuine sense of humor. Brewster (1) prior to arriving at Minnesota had been a head football coach at a high school, (2) took a Gopher team with 41 returning lettermen and turned it into a laughingstock, (3) shows signs of becoming the worst Big 10 football coach since Rick Venturi went 1-31-1 at Northwestern from 1978 to 1980, and (4) has no sense of humor and employs bombast in predicting Rose Bowl appearances and national championships.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Brewster’s Gophers go out and lose to North Dakota State (NDSU) at home by the score of 27 to 21. This latest indignity, heaped upon losses to lowly Florida Atlantic and Bowling Green give weight to the body of evidence that Brewster and his staff are in far over their heads. During the NDSU debacle, a man’s face appeared on the TV monitor in the Metrodome press box. It was the Big 10 Network and the man was Glen Mason, head thrown back and roaring with laughter. The sound was turned off, so we don’t know what had tickled the fancy of the former Gopher coach. Mason wasn’t assigned to the Gopher game, but reports indicate that in public the old coach now frequently bursts into laughter, sometimes at inopportune times. Apparently, the mere thought of what’s happened to his former team is enough to elicit in him gales of laughter.

During the course of the game with Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) North Dakota State, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Minnesota somehow allowed junior Bison roly-poly running back Tyler Roehl to run for 263 net yards. The chubby 5-foot, 10-inch Roehl, his little legs churning furiously, zipped past Gopher defenders who apparently were running in slow motion for a 77-yard touchdown romp in the first quarter. The successful extra-point attempt tied the score at 7-7. Minnesota had earlier needed only three plays to score the first touchdown of the game. The early Gopher success was merely an illusion. Later in the quarter, a Steve Walker five-yard pass completion to Tyler Jangula coupled with the extra point gave the Bison a 14-7 lead, much to the delight of approximately 20,000 NDSU fans in attendance. Though outnumbered in the Metrodome, the Bison fans were far more vociferous.

Although Gopher quarterback Adam Weber was having the worst day of his brief career, it was the inept Minnesota defense that was the team’s undoing. It has been speculated that if the Gophers were to use statues of Bronko Nagurski, Dick Wildung, Ed Widseth, Chuck Bednarik, Bulldog Turner, Tuffy Leemans, Johnny Blood ,and the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, the statues would make more stops than any 11 players Brewster and his staff chose to put on the field. Rumor has it that one Everett Withers is Minnesota’s defensive coordinator. This is hard to believe because the Gophers have no coordination on defense. The team ranks last in the 11-team Big 10 in scoring defense, pass defense, and Tyler Roehl defense. In the second quarter, the chubby running back from West Fargo ran for 68 yards past static Gopher defenders to set up a Shawn Bibeau field goal and a 17-14 NDSU lead. Much local ink has been wasted in lauding the efforts of strong safety Minnesota-born Dominique Barber, who leads the team in tackles. This flies in the face of common football knowledge that indicates that when a safety is leading your team in tackles, your team doesn’t pose much of a defensive threat to the opposition.

Brewster wasn’t happy when he saw North Dakota State on the schedule and said he favors scheduling non-conference games against universities from prime recruiting areas (Florida, Texas, Ohio, etc.). Perhaps he should pay more attention to West Fargo than West Palm Beach. Roehl later gained 12 yards to the Minnesota 22-yard line to help set up the winning touchdown (a Walker pass completion to Thor Brown) in the fourth quarter.

The game came down to a key Brewster decision after NDSU had extended its lead with a field goal to 27-21. With 1:48 left in the game and Mike Dragosavich punting for the Bison, the Gopher coach called for an all-out rush in attempt to block the kick. Ignoring the fact that the Gophers haven’t come close to blocking a punt all season, Brewster gambled and lost. The hard-charging Barber roughed the kicker, giving NDSU a first down and the ball game.

“It was my decision to go for the block,” Brewster lamented in the media conference following the game. “We thought we had a great scheme.” The scheming coach defended the move by remarking that as long as he stays at the helm of the Gophers, the team is “going to be as aggressive as we can be.” The previous Saturday, the aggressive Brewster went for a two-point conversion in overtime against Northwestern when a tie would have prolonged the contest. The attempt failed. Unfortunately aggression does not automatically translate into success.

Brewster credited NDSU for having “an excellent running attack” complemented by “physical linemen that come off the ball.” NDSU coach Craig Bohl was quoted as saying he was “surprised” that the Bison had great success running the ball against the Gophers. So were the 63,008 spectators in attendance last Saturday. Also amazed was veteran Gopher linebacker Steve Davis, who admitted that the entire season “has come as a huge surprise” to him. Also surprised were the folks in Fargo who find their team in first place in the FCS rankings, even though the Bison won’t be eligible for playoff competition until 2008. Next year, NDSU will join the Gateway Football Conference and compete for the championship with the likes of Youngstown State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, and Western Illinois. Until then, the Bison have to be content with defeating the l1th place team in the Big 10.

Meanwhile, Brewster continued to bluster about the Gopher football future. “We will be better for this down the road,” he vowed. “We will recruit extremely hard.” The last statement rang hollow later when it was announced that the top high school prospect in our state, Cretin-Durham Hall senior wide receiver Michael Floyd had spurned the blowhard coach and opted for attendance next season at Notre Dame.

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