Changing coaches is an inevitable thing unless your name is Joe Paterno or John Gagliardi of St. John’s.
Eventually, the team will have a rough season or two and the first one to go is always going to be the coach.
Ditto for the Minnesota Gophers football team, who after three and a half seasons of predominantly horrible football, finally had enough of Tim Brewster.
But midseason coaching changes are even worse, specifically in football, because essentially the season is all but over when you’re jettisoning your leader, and with such a short season, there is little to no time to turn things around.
Enter Jeff Horton, the man taking over the reins for Brewster, who is put in the impossible position of turning around an untalented, uncoached, and unmotivated group of Gophers.
Tim Brewster certainly left Horton a mess, so it is no wonder that from a week in which Brewster called the plays to a week where Horton ran the show, not a whole lot changed.
Horton came out with a similar game plan to the one Brewster has drawn up for three and a half years.
He tried to establish the run to set up the pass, and actually had a decent amount of success in doing just that, with Deleon Eskridge going over 100 yards for the second time this season on the ground, and Adam Weber falling only one yard short of 300 through the air.
What else could you expect from an offense that has known only one way since 2007? In the grand scheme of things, their performance was quite impressive.
But when the ball was in the Nittany Lions hands, it appeared the defense had never seen a football field in their lives, just like when Brewster roamed the sidelines.
It took the Nittany Lions only 13:52 to put up their points on five scoring drives, and they capitalized on lapse after lapse by the Gophers D.
Continuing on the pre to post Brewster trend, the Gophers again made the game look a lot closer than it actually was in garbage time, scoring a late touchdown to make it a 12 point margin of victory for Penn State.
In every Gopher game aside from the win at Middle Tennessee State and the one point loss to Northwestern, the Gophers have been down double digits with under six minutes to play and have gotten a useless touchdown that has brought them a little less embarrassment the next day, but nothing else.
Most commonly the TD has brought the Gophers to 11 or 12 point deficits, and in the case of the USC contest in which the Gophers were a 12.5 point underdog, crushing betting lines everywhere.
Judging Jeff Horton and the Gopher football program based off the five games under Horton would be unfair and foolish. The writing is on the wall for this season and the only winnable game the Gophers have left on their schedule is in three weeks vs. Illinois, with the other three Gophers opponents being ranked.
This program is what it is at the moment, and the rehab will have to begin with the coaching search the Gophers are sure to be more careful with this time around.
Should Minnesota be able to nab a top line candidate, perhaps Minnesota’s image, even as a middle-of-the-road Big Ten program, can be restored.
But don’t expect progress, especially in the next couple weeks, from this team because Horton can only change so much in such a short period of time. If a team does something one way one week and then does a 180 and starts to do things completely Horton’s way, it would be chaos and a lack of continuity on the field.
Until the coaching search has begun, all we can do is grieve for Jeff Horton, because this team could have Tony Dungy, Vince Lombardi, or Bear Bryant as its coach the rest of this season, and it would still come out of the year with only two wins.
-Mike GallagherFollow paulmbanks