March 13, 2007

Brewster puts together diverse, qualified staff

Quotas don't interest Tim Brewster.

Quality does.

That's why the high-energy, incessantly optimistic new University of Minnesota football coach feels it's no big deal that two-thirds of his coaching staff is black. A few of those coaches are in their first full-time position.

"I put together the best staff I could," said Brewster, who was hired in mid-January to replace Glen Mason. "Someone said after the fact that I've got six minorities. I said, 'What I've got are nine great coaches.' "

Brewster might not think that hiring six black assistant coaches is truly significant, but The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida likely would emphatically disagree.

In a January study titled: The Buck Stops Here: Assessing Diversity among Campus and Conference Leaders for Division IA Schools in 2007, the Institute reported that only 26 percent of 1,086 Division I-A assistant football coaches are black. The average college football coaching staff included two black assistant coaches.

Brewster obviously obliterated the average.

Eugene Marshall, President of the Black Coaches Association and Deputy Athletic Director at the United States Military Academy, praised Brewster for his hiring decisions. However, he also pointed out that that wasn't an act of charity.

"I think by doing that you're putting people in position to succeed," Marshall said. "That's one way of doing that, and that's commendable. But I also think he's done that to help himself win."

Brewster doesn't deny that. He said he wanted to make correct hires, not be politically correct.

"The number (of minority hires) was not a preconceived thought," Brewster said. "I wanted to build the best coaching and recruiting staff in America. I reached out for guys I knew and had great respect for as coaches and recruiters. I also had in mind that I wanted strong, strong role models - whether or not they were black or white.

"The hard fact today is that so many kids come up in single parent families, particularly the black kids, so I wanted strong black role models on staff. I feel like it's vitally important to the team and the kids. But I also wanted strong white role models because (the term) 'single parent families' doesn't just mean black kids. It's white kids, too. It's society in general. I didn't want to have situational recruiters. I want guys that can go into any situation affluent, poor, white, black. Those are the type guys I wanted to add to my staff."

But Brewster doesn't necessarily want them to remain there.

He waited 20 years to become a head coach, and he wants his assistants to eventually have the same opportunity.

Defensive Coordinator Everett Withers, previously the secondary coach for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, is the most likely of Brewster's assistants to someday become a head coach.

However, Brewster also sees that potential in Derek Lewis and Thomas Hammock, young guys on his staff who have their first full-time jobs.

"I know this. Everett Withers is going to be a head football coach," Brewster said. "I'm going to promote him to be a head football coach. He's a great, dynamic person in a leadership role. That's what you have to do with great, young black coaches. They deserve to be in leaderships roles, and the more you do that the better off you're going to be.

"I want to promote my staff and help the guys whether they're black or white. I got my opportunity to be a head football coach and I want them to get theirs.

"Take Derek Lewis, for instance. He's one of the most dynamic young guys there is in college football. He has a bright future and he's a shining star in the profession and I'm going to do my best to help him do the things he wants to do."

Minnesota hasn't won a Big Ten championship since it shared the 1967 crown with Indiana and Purdue, and the Gophers are coming off a 6-7 finish. That means Brewster and his staff obviously have their work cut out for them.

But if they prove successful, Brewster can expect to have his staff raided sometime in the next few years. Perhaps, someone will even get a shot as a head coach.

Even then the percentages of minorities on the Minnesota coaching staff might not change.

"I think it's very important to look at the makeup of our team," Brewster said. "We have a number of black kids on the team, so diversity is extremely important. I want to keep that in mind."

Also see:
Complete package: Black coaches proving they are more than just good recruiters
Recruiting issues faced by minority coaches not as simple as black and white
On the horizon: List of qualified black assistants keeps growing
Ahead of the game: Rooney Rule producing real opportunities in NFL
Editorial: Across the board, black coaches deserve more opportunities

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