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Thursday, January 22, 2009
Bond with Brewster brings Fisch to Gophers

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Tim Brewster's first offer came seven years ago over a dinner in Houston.

Jedd Fisch had just landed his first NFL job with the Houston Texans, who were entering their inaugural season. Brewster, then an assistant with the University of Texas who recruited the Houston area, called the Texans and asked to meet with head coach Dom Capers. Fisch set up a dinner for the three of them.

Afterward, Brewster presented Fisch with two tickets to the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. Fisch took his father to the game and sat with Brewster's family.

"I've got to remember if they were free or not," Fisch said with a laugh. "Nah, I'm kidding. It was outstanding. It was a great first impression."

Brewster offered Fisch an even better view of the college game this week, and the promising NFL assistant who coached the Denver Broncos' wide receivers this season agreed to become the University of Minnesota's offensive coordinator.

After eight years as a pro assistant with three organizations, Fisch returns to the college ranks and takes on his first coordinator job for a Gophers team hoping to build off this season's six-win improvement. He agreed to a two-year contract that could earn him as much as $650,000.

A handsome salary and the chance to work alongside Brewster hooked Fisch, who interviewed for the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator vacancy on Monday and was only considering NFL jobs until Brewster called him Sunday.

"It was a whirlwind, my man," Fisch said Wednesday night after flying back to Denver from Minneapolis. "I was eight years in the National Football League, I was talking to a lot of coaches in the NFL, so it was hard to think of anything other than that. But when you talk to Tim Brewster ..."

Fisch takes over a Gophers offense that finished ninth in the Big Ten in scoring (23.2 ppg), fourth in passing (219.1 ypg) and last in rushing (103.8 ypg). His predecessor, Mike Dunbar, ran the Spread Coast system, a mix of the spread at the West Coast offense.

But Fisch's scheme won't have a catchy nickname.

"We're not going to run the spread offense," Fisch said. "We're going to run our offense, which will be a form of getting the ball into our playmakers' hands. No matter if we're the Fun 'n Gun, the Run 'n Shoot, the West Coast, the Spread World, we're going to be the Gopher offense that people are going to want to imitate and replicate.

"We're going to attack defenses."

Fisch tutored standout wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal in Denver and previously helped Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton blossom in Baltimore.

"All the Minnesota fans and players are in for a real treat," Marshall said. "He is going to make the offense there that much more explosive. He knows how to coach. He relates very well to players, and people in general."

Frustrated with the Gophers' run game, Brewster hired veteran assistant Tim Davis three days after the regular season to coach the offensive line and coordinate the ground attack. Brewster wants Minnesota to return to its roots as a power run team, and Davis brought a completely new approach to a struggling line for the Insight Bowl.

Fisch hasn't met Davis but heard good things about him from Capers, who worked with him on Nick Saban's staff with the Miami Dolphins. Though Davis has more power than most assistant coaches, Fisch isn't concerned about the division of responsibilities.

"I'll be the offensive coordinator and the play caller and coach the quarterback, but in order to put a game plan together, we're going to do that as a group," he said. "I've never been around a staff where it's a one-man show. It certainly won't even be close to that at Minnesota. We've got great football coaches, from what I understand, and we're going to use each one of their strengths.

"We're going to put a game plan together as a group. We're going to call plays on Saturday individually."

Fisch returns to Minneapolis on Monday and will take the NCAA's recruiting test, after which he hopes to contact several of the Gophers' incoming recruits for 2009. He looks forward to working with an offense that returns 10 starters, including quarterback Adam Weber and star wideout Eric Decker.

"I'll spend the next 30-60 days trying to put together the best possible offense to try and win a Big Ten championship," Fisch said.