After all, Sid Hartman has written for the Minneapolis Star Tribune longer than anyone reading this has been alive, I'll bet. The well-known columnist has become a parody in a way, because sometimes he writes stuff that is so crazy that not even he can believe it.
Thursday was the latest in a long line of that kind of stuff.
He decided to tackle the situation surrounding Minnesota Gophers football coach Tim Brewster. While a sane person could still defend embattled hockey coach Don Lucia at this point, it has to be assumed that even Brewster's family and close friends know he isn't going to last much longer at Minnesota.
Hartman says that shouldn't be the case. He invokes the names "Alvarez" and "Ferentz" to make his point, which is like using Bud Grant and Vince Lombardi to defend Chan Gailey.
Alvarez, now the Badgers' athletic director, went 11-22 overall and 5-19 in the Big Ten in his first three years. Wisconsin finished in 10th place in 1990, tied for eighth in 1991 and tied for sixth in 1992. In his fourth year, Alvarez was 10-1-1, tied for first in the Big Ten with a 6-1-1 record and then won the Rose Bowl with a 21-16 victory over UCLA.
... As for Ferentz, he was 11-24 overall and 7-17 in his first three years in the Big Ten. He was 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten in his first year at Iowa in 1999 and 3-9 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten in his second year. In his third year, the Hawkeyes were 7-5 (4-4 Big Ten), went to the Alamo Bowl and beat Texas Tech 19-16.
In his fourth year, Ferentz coached the Hawkeyes to a 11-2 overall record and tied for the Big Ten title with an 8-0 mark. Iowa went to the Orange Bowl, losing to USC 38-17, and has had only one sub-.500 season (6-7 in 2006) since 2001.
Now, I'm the first to preach patience, but here are the nuts and bolts of Brewster's first three seasons in Minnesota.
2007: 1-11 overall, 0-8 Big Ten, lost to a I-AA team, outscored by 10.4 points per game
2008: 7-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten, lost bowl game, outscored by 1.6 points per game
2009: 6-7 overall, 3-5 Big Ten, lost bowl game, beat a I-AA newcomer by three points, outscored by 2.9 points per game
2010: 1-3 overall, 0-0 Big Ten, lost to a I-AA team, outscored by 4.5 points per game
Alvarez took over a moribound program, steadily improved it every year, and it culminated with a trip to the Rose Bowl as his first class of recruits matured and he made some of his predecessor's recruits into very good upperclassmen along the way.
Ferentz took over a moribound program, steadily improved it every year, and it culminated with a trip to a major bowl as his first class of recruits matured and he made some of his predecessor's recruits into very good upperclassmen along the way.
Brewster didn't take over a moribound program. Glen Mason tok the Gophers to bowl games in 2002, 2003 (ten-win season), 2004, 2005, and 2006. Joel Maturi overreacted to Mason's team blowing a huge lead against Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl, and he fired the coach for no good reason a year after extending his contract.
Brewster came in, blew the whole thing up, posted the worst single-season record in program history, and talked about Rose Bowls. With the kind of bluster Brewster spewed from the start of his tenure in Minnesota, he shouldn't be given a ton of time to prove he wasn't full of crap.
After all the talk, it's been back-to-back Insight Bowls, where the Gophers have lost to national powers Kansas and Iowa State.
Of course, Kansas is a national power in basketball, not football. And Iowa State is a national power in wrestling, not football. So those losses really aren't anything to write home about if you're a Brewster supporter.
Yes they are 1-3 now, but they are 0-0 in the Big Ten. Nobody knows what the rest of the season will bring.
No, Sid, no one knows anything. That's correct.
But the Gophers need five Big Ten wins to even qualify for a minor bowl game, and they have to do it against a schedule that includes five ranked teams.
What's more likely is that the team has a ceiling of about 4-8 for the season, and that's not exactly showing improvement.
In fact, it seems like a step back.
Oh, and that South Dakota team that walked all over the Gophers "defense" a few weeks ago? They lost Saturday to North Dakota State.
Preach on, Sid. Surely, you converted someone in the Cities to Brewsterism with your cheerleading Thursday. Just don't take too much pride. It doesn't take a lot to convert the insane.