Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Go ahead. Call Tim Brewster a masochist.
The idea that a Big Ten team would voluntarily elect to play USC sounds downright batty to some. No team has contributed more to the Big Ten's declining national perception than the Trojans, who have won nine consecutive games against Big Ten teams, stretching back to the 1996 season.
So why did Brewster push for Minnesota to schedule the Trojans, a careful-what-you-wish-for proposition that became true last week with a home-and-home series scheduled for 2010 and 2011?
"It's a marquee game," Brewster told ESPN.com today while on a recruiting trip. "Obviously, when you play USC, you're jumping in the deep end. And they're the ultimate measuring stick. I want our program to be one of national focus. I've said from day one I want to win a Big Ten championship and I want to recruit players that can help us win a Big Ten championship. We've already got an unbelievable amount of positive response from recruits about us playing USC."
Brewster's approach to nonconference scheduling mirrors that of Ohio State. He wants one headline game every year to go along with others against mainly regional foes.
Minnesota hosts Cal on Sept. 19, faces USC the next two seasons and takes on both Colorado and Syracuse in 2012. Brewster's philosophy marks a change at Minnesota, a program long criticized for its soft scheduling.
"I certainly don't want my whole nonconference schedule filled with USCs," Brewster said. "I'd like to play one marquee, nationally televised nonconference game a year, a big-time game against a big-time opponent that's going to draw tremendous focus to Minnesota. Already, this game has brought a great deal of focus to the Gophers."