NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Minnesota coach Glen Mason says he has
been busy preparing his Golden Gophers for Virginia and the Gaylord Hotels Music
City Bowl, leaving negotiations on a new contract extension to his
Time may be running out.
As of Thursday afternoon, Mason didn't know if he'll get an
extension before Saturday night -- when contracts for his assistant
coaches expire -- even though he has a year remaining on his
seven-year deal. A school attorney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press
that Minnesota doesn't want Mason coaching without a renewal.
"I'd be less than truthful if I didn't say that I've been
thinking about it because it's important to a lot of people around
me -- my coaches, their families and my family," Mason said. "But
I really try to put it to the back burner because a lot of
responsibilities I have here, and I literally don't have any time
to spend on it."
Mason is 58-49 in nine seasons with the Golden Gophers, and this
is their sixth bowl in seven years.
On Friday, Mason's Golden Gophers (7-4) will try to win their
fourth straight bowl game against Virginia (6-5), a team they've
Playing in their third Music City Bowl in four years, the Golden
Gophers insist they aren't disappointed, even after a season in
which they lost at home to Wisconsin 38-34 -- a setback that knocked
them out of the Top 25 -- and concluded with a 52-28 loss at Iowa.
"We controlled our own destiny this year, and things didn't
work out the way we had hoped for," right tackle Tony Brinkhaus
said. "We're coming down here with a good attitude."
The Cavaliers beat eventual Atlantic Coast Conference champ
Florida State and Georgia Tech, but fell out of the Top 25 with a
7-5 loss at North Carolina. They also lost their final two games,
at Virginia Tech and Miami.
They are here because the Southeastern Conference couldn't fill
its bowl contracts.
Defensive end Brennan Schmidt watched his brother play here for
Boston College in 2001.
"I knew it was going to be a fun place to go and a great game
to play in," he said. "At least I'm excited."
That might last until kickoff.
The Cavaliers must slow down the nation's second-best rushing
offense, a unit averaging 279.91 yards a game, and the only NCAA
program with two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season for three
Laurence Maroney, who will announce if he's entering the NFL
draft after the game, even lost Marion Barber to the NFL after last
season, and Gary Russell replaced him in 2005 with 19 touchdowns.
That's why Schmidt said the Cavaliers aren't offering clichés
about stopping the run. They ranked 59th in the country, giving up
146.9 yards rushing per game.
"It's a reality. This team runs the ball very well, and they
have the right personnel for the system that they have. So
definitely if we don't stop this run, we're not going to win this
game," Schmidt said.
The Golden Gophers don't plow over defenses as much as they
slice through using complex blocking schemes with All-American
center Greg Eslinger and left guard Mark Setterstrom, a second-team
Virginia coach Al Groh has appreciated them for years.
"Sometimes people think that's isolated to the passing game.
For the real good run games, it takes the same amount of
communication and repetitions to develop with that execution,"
Groh has been busy himself with coaching decisions. Both
coordinators and his associate head coach left for head coaching
jobs at Temple, Kansas State and Liberty. He's now coordinating the
defense, while two assistants will share play-calling for the
"Those kinks usually have an ugly way of only materializing
during the games," Groh said.
Virginia will need as much help as possible from senior
quarterback Marques Hagans, dangerous with his arm and his legs, to
outscore a Minnesota team that averages 36.1 points.
He ranked fifth in the ACC in total offense and ran for 110
yards against Syracuse. Running back Wali Lundy (515 yards rushing)
finally is healthy after dealing with a sprained foot most of the
"We've got some good running backs as well," Hagans said.
"It's going to come down to execution."