Considering non-conference scheduling

     Hey, how about this revolutionary idea from Minnesota coach Tim Brewster: Scheduling tough non-conference opponents helps your recruiting.

     Whoa! Why don't more football coaches in the Big Ten feel that way?

     I know what you're thinking. Highly skilled high school recruits pick Penn State because of Joe Paterno, or Ohio State because of the tradition there, not because of the schedule. Minnesota is cold and snowy and the Golden Gophers haven't been to the Rose Bowl since 1961.

     But the Gophers could be a rising power in the Big Ten in future years if Brewster's idea works. Minnesota opened this season at Syracuse, where a new coach, a new quarterback and a sellout crowd awaited, then hosted Air Force and its fine rushing attack, and nationally ranked California.

    The Golden Gophers have a home-and-home series with Southern California in 2010 and 2011, then have two games with Texas in 2015 and 2016.

     "My philosophy is this: what we want to do, first and foremost, is we want to play a schedule that appeals to recruits," Brewster said. "Recruits call me all the time and they talk about our non-conference scheduling, and they're really excited about the fact that we're playing a team like USC, that we're playing a team like the University of Texas. To be quite honest, that's what it comes down to.

     "Number one for me is recruiting. No. 2, our fan base is extremely excited about the non-conference scheduling that we have in place. It helps prepare our football team. We're a fairly well battle-tested football team because of the schedule we've played to this point. I've just got to think that it's helped us and it'll serve us well in the Big Ten."

     Let's see if it helps the Gophers on Saturday.