First of all, let's get this out of the way: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. You can argue for Home Alone or A Christmas Story all you want, but those arguments will fall on deaf ears here. Every other holiday movie is unwatchable in my book.
So, I'm watching Christmas Vacation for the 13th or 14th time (those are very conservative estimates) and I can't help but notice a parrallel or two between Clark W. Griswold, Jr. and Gopher Football Coach Tim Brewster.
In the movie, Clark has quite a dilemma. He's the ultimate family man, working his tail off to provide his wife and children with a lovely home and fun-filled vacations. This year he's decided to take his Christmas bonus and install a swimming pool for the family. Small problem: he didn't have enough money in his bank account to cover the check he wrote for the deposit.
That reminds me an awful lot of Gophers coach Tim Brewster. Brewster arrived in Minnesota as quite the optimist. His mouth wrote a check that his team couldn't cover when Brewster was introduced to the media. He promised "Gopher Nation" a Rose Bowl.
Three years into his tenure, the Gophers haven't come close to those lofty expectations. They were atrocious the first year. In years two and three, they've been invited to the Insight Bowl, but that's not exactly Pasadena now, is it?
Clark Griswold was counting on a bonus, and when it didn't come, his world unraveled. He had spent the entire holiday season working, preparing, and scheming for a wonderful holiday for himself and his family. Clark had lofty expectations, but was certain he could make things work and live up to those expectations.
Brewster also has high expectations. He's tried several "tricks" to get the Gophers on top. He brought in Offensive Coordinator Mike Dunbar and his spread offense: that experiment failed miserably. It was like driving out to the middle of nowhere to find the perfect tree and forgetting to bring a saw. It was way more trouble than it was worth.
Tim Davis was hired to coordinate the running game and coach the offensive line. Unknown Jedd Fisch came in to coordinate the offense. In the last two games of the 2009 season, the offense has failed to score a touchdown.
All the pieces were there, but when you flipped the switch, nothing came on. Reminds me an awful lot of Clark Griswold's "25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights". Hopefully someone figures out which switch needs to be flipped. Where's Beverly D'Angelo when you need her?
If Brewster is Clark Griswold, Joel Maturi is Mr. Shirley. Brewster's anticipating an extension; so far Maturi's given him a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club. As Cousin Eddie says, "that's the gift that keeps on giving all year round".
Problem is, recruits don't want a coach without some stability. They want a coach who they know will be there when they graduate. Right now, I don't know if Brewster even deserves the Jelly of the Month Club. He's going to have to earn that bonus by putting a winner on the field next season.
Brewster and the Gophers can get a head start on next season with a good showing against Iowa State in the Insight Bowl. A win could be the push the team needs to fly down the hill at breakneck speed heading into 2010. A loss would be the equivalent of emptying a chemical toilet into the sewer.
The Gophers would be one small spark away from an all-out explosion. Gopher fans in the neighborhood hope it doesn't come to that.