BEST COACH - 2003
Glen Mason has the hardest job in the Big Ten. Not only is he charged with leading a team that's often given short shrift by sports fans, but he has the arduous task of recruiting young talent to play in the Metrodome, quite possibly the worst college football atmosphere in the country. (Come on now, can you blame kids for heading off to Notre Dame or Ohio State University, where football is king and the stadiums could seat the population of a small city?) But despite the challenges, Mason has brought considerable energy to the University of Minnesota's Golden Gopher football program since he took over as head coach in 1997. The three-time finalist for national coach of the year has turned a team that spent much of the early '90s at the bottom of the Big Ten into one that's gone to three bowl games in the past four years. Since 1999 his Big Ten record is 14-18. Okay, we know it's a losing record, but it's a lot better than the 8-32 score of his predecessor. Mason is also well known as a father figure to his players, with a no-nonsense attitude--and his rugged good looks sure are easy on the eye. Of course there's plenty of room for improvement in Goldy's football crew. But let's give Mason proper credit for what could be the beginning of a legendary turnaround.