First time I realized Glen Mason bought his gall by the bladder was in late December of 1987 when Mason put Kansas University on ice.
Athletics director Bob Frederick had offered the KU football job to the 37-year-old Mason even though the former Ohio State offensive co-ordinator had only two years of head coaching experience at Kent State.
Yet Mason held out for days because Ohio State was also in the market for a football coach and Mason had the chutzpah to think he had a shot at it. Finally, two days before the dawn of 1988, Ohio State selected John Cooper and Mason made a thumbs-up call to Frederick.
At the time, Mason did not deny he was disappointed Ohio State had rejected him, but he said: "I don't look on the University of Kansas as a second choice at all."
If you say so, Mase.
Mason, as you surely know, is in more or less the same position he was those 13-plus years ago. He's waiting for Ohio State to name a new football coach. Make no mistake. He wants the OSU job, and he wants it badly.
Yet the longer Ohio State AD Andy Geiger drags his feet, the deeper Mason sinks into great green gobs of greasy, grimy Gopher guts.
Folks from Duluth to Albert Lea, from Rochester to East Grand Forks have grown weary of Mason's increasing willingness to put the Twin Cities in his rearview mirror.
At least Mason hasn't pulled the stunt he executed at Kansas in 1995 when he accepted the Georgia job, changed his mind a week later and then stayed for a lame-duck 1996 season on Mount Oread before bolting for Minnesota.
Last year, Mason interviewed for the Michigan State and LSU openings. When asked why, his curt response was: "When my phone rings, I answer it."
Many Minnesotans, I understand, are relishing Mason twisting on the Ohio State spit. While Mason roasts like a buckeye over an open fire, Minnesota football recruiting is on hold and boosters are grumbling about his cavalier attitude toward the school that dipped deep into its pockets to make Mason a near-millionaire.
Mason and Minnesota agreed on a seven-year contract not too long ago that, according to published reports, does not have a buyout clause. In other words, Mason will not have to pay a penalty if he leaves.
Instead, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the longer Mason stays at Minnesota the greater percentage of a $1 million annuity he vests. If he leaves before Dec. 31, 2003, he will earn no vested money.
Mason surely would hate to lose that money, but at the same time he also has an ego the size of his native New Jersey, and he has never been secretive about his desire to coach one of America's five or six best college programs. No more Kent States. No more Kansases. No more Minnesotas. Mason is 50 years old and he's ready for prime time.
Mason understands the only high-profile job he has a shot at is Ohio State. He's no West Coast guy, he's no Southeast guy he proved that when he rained on Georgia and he's no Southwest guy, either.
Glen Mason is a Big 10 and a Big 12 (make that Big 12 North Division) coach. He's tough, he's brash, he's smart and he's decisive.
If Mason does not receive the Ohio State nod, it will be a blow, much more crushing than it was in late 1987 when he could rationalize that a mere two years of head coaching experience was not enough.
He has the experience now. He built a winner at Kent State and he built bowl teams at Kansas and Minnesota. So if Ohio State turns him down this time it can be for only one reason.
They just don't want him.