The Great Sidoni, p.II

class=img_thumbleft> You can't call him fickle. During the long death watch for Gopher football coach Glen Mason, Strib methuselah Sid Hartman continued to suck up with the enthusiasm of a man in the prime of life. In fact, Sid was still defending Mason's mixed record, even as the unpopular coach was boxing up his trophy from the prestigious Music City Bowl.

A charitable reader would credit Sid's loyalty; a cynical one would charge that Sid, like most journalists, ingratiates himself for access and scoops. "He did things for me he didn't do for other members of the media. And I appreciated that," Sid wrote in his January 4 column under the headline, "Mason wanted to finish what he started here."

Sid, at least, remains on the job, and the message his Mason columns have sent to Twin Cities sports leaders is unmistakable: Look after the Sid and the Sid will look after you.

Below, you can read select quotes from Sid's long closing argument for a condemned man.

October 25, 2006

The 7-4 regular-season record [in 2005] was successful enough that university officials decided to give Mason a five-year extension on his contract.

Now some of the people in the media who never have stepped on the Gibson-Nagurski practice field or know anything about the football program are calling for him to be discharged.

Well, if you want to look back into the history of the program, you would conclude that Mason has done as good a job as almost any other Gophers football coach. It seems most other Gophers coaches who were hired because they ran winning programs elsewhere stumbled here.

November 5, 2006

Yes, there were "Fire Mason" cheers at the stadium on Saturday, and when Mason was asked about it, he said that this being a free country, people can say what they want."Win, baby." That's all that matters.

November 9, 2006

Some have chanted "fire Mason" at recent Gophers games. University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks and athletic director Joel Maturi refused to comment about it except to say, "Mason has a contract."

December 22, 2006

The critics will say that the reason Glen Mason and the Gophers have the best five-year record (38 victories, 2002-2006) ) since the 1903-1907 team is because of the easy schedule. But the record is still there. And the Gophers join Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin as the only Big Ten teams to play in a bowl game in seven of the past eight seasons.

January 1, 2007

If I had a relative in the coaching business and he asked me about the Minnesota job, I would tell him to stay where they are and look for a better situation. There are lot of problems here that cause the losing. When close friends call, Mason will not hesitate to relate the information.

I have seen all of these coaches come and go, and while Mason and I had an up-and-down relationship, I don't think they will be able to hire a better coach.

January 4, 2007

For 10 years during the football season we did a morning show on WCCO on Tuesday, a pregame show on Thursday and then the Sunday "Sports Huddle." Yes, we had our ups and downs. Mason had a little of the late Woody Hayes in him. I'd walk out of the football building on some days really upset with him. The next day it was a lovefest....

No other member of the media spent as much time as I did talking to him in his office--sometimes at least five days a week and others times six or seven--not only about sports, but about mutual friends and a variety of different subjects.