I honestly didn’t think I’d stick around this long, but the decadence is just too much to give up on. Thumping bass from the 2500 speakers placed around the stadium. New 3’ expansions on the scoreboard every year to keep it the biggest in the country. Different offensive and defensive coordinators every year for the past seven seasons. Grass imported from the Rose Bowl every season. Yeah it’s effing year ten of Brewball.
How long can a program run on SWAG alone? The answer is apparently something more than ten years. His shtick was great in 2007 and it felt like he was turning things around in 2008 with that recruiting class and starting the season 7-1. My thought was we should have let him go in 2010, but Maturi balked and he’s been flirting with five to seven-win seasons ever since. At most other schools, that would mean a bolt gun to the brain out in the pasture. Not at Minnesota though.
No, ten years later, we’re still hunting for bear with a pellet gun, even though he keeps telling us we’re not supposed to bring a pellet gun to hunt bears. Every year he tells us if we want to get some, we gotta’ bring some, even though we rarely do. Every year he promises this is the season we bring ‘The Natty to Dinky’ yet the only thing we occasionally bring to Dinkytown is a rad fringe bowl trophy (RIP in peace MV).
But that’s what keeps the 12,000 remaining season ticket holders coming: the spectacle. We are the laughingstock of NCAA football, but it’s a circus we’ve all come to love. The crowd chants “Send in the Clowns!” at the conclusion of the National Anthem as the team is about to take the field. Sometimes we feel a bit craven about this, but the players that came had literally no other options in the Power 5 conferences; many had no other FBS offers. Kind scheduling is the only thing that has kept us marginally competitive over the last several years as well as a few brilliant first-year coordinators who rightly fled proving their worth here.
We’re sitting undefeated after conference play, with new offensive coordinator and alum Adam Weber. No one is sure why he came back to work for Brew after the abortion that was Jedd Fisch effectively any hope of a professional job. But here he is and he appears somewhat competent. For home games, he occasionally just spins for no reason, because I think he understands there’s no meaning to anything, as well. Arby’s is the main food vendor at TCF, so, yeah.
But excitement for conference play? God no. The West, aside from Wisconsin, looks like a wasteland of dregs and wannabes, though I’m not sure which we are. It should be ours for the taking, but we’ve given up any hope of that. People occasionally try to sneak placards and sandwich boards into the games asking to be personally shot up close by Maturi. Security removes them, but it’s hard not to see where they’re coming from. This is as close to the void as I think a sport can get. I find myself staring into the distance a voice inside asking ‘Why?’ There’s never an answer though. Just another season of bombast, St. Paul Slim and coach laying on the turf. Amaze.
Some people are still talking like the Rose Bowl is a real possibility this season. I stare at them like their internal organs exist outside of their bodies. How, after the last ten years of all hat and no cattle, can one believe Pasadena is even still a real place? For all we know this is a purgatory. We’ve all done something horribly wrong and this is how we live out the remainder of our existence: Listening to Coach Brew talk about the temperature of chili for eternity. Hell would be a blessing. But there is no hell. Only Brewster.
I’ve lost three close Gopher friends in the last year to cirrhosis. We all know it’s waiting for us. There’s no other way to cope. We’ve tried SSRIs, tricyclics, benzos, in-patient psychotherapy, electrocuting ourselves. There’s no way to break the cycle. Drink is the only way to numb of the pain of what’s coming on Saturday. We’ve even seen Old Man Maturi hobbling into the stadium with a handle of Carlo Rossi. He’s a bitter and broken shell of a man, more booze than man, frankly. But who could blame him. His legacy is a decade of hype, swag and no substance. He shows up every Saturday though to watch the horror, tears streaming down his face. I’m sure there’s a part of him that wants to fire Brew, to end the madness. But, the time to act has passed. Regret is his last companion.
So in two days, we’ll be in our seats at the Maryland game, among the living dead. We’ll cheer as we’ve been programmed to do and then return to the numb despondency that is Brewball when the inevitable happens. Ten years, the life of a dog, gone, in the wind, dust. But we will return in two weeks against Sparty to see the spectacle. The terrible foulness we’ve let into our hearts. Festering. Damn you Brew. Damn you.