Not many coaches can do what Jerry Kill is on pace to do. He has taken a falling program in Minnesota and turned them into a contender for the first time in years.
It’s been eight years since the Golden Gophers have won a bowl game and it’s been 51 years since they’ve made it to the Rose Bowl, a drought that has plagued the program recruiting-wise.
Kill has been a turnaround master. He has taken teams from the cellar and turned them into teams contending for titles, both conference or national titles. Although he has never battled for a Division I national title, and may not get the chance to at Minnesota, a conference title may be but a few years away.
In his third head coaching stint, Kill took a sorry Southern Illinois team that was 1-10 in his first season and turned them into a 10-2 team in just two years. His next job was at Northern Illinois where he took over a struggling program and brought them to three straight bowl games and an 8-0 conference record in his final season there.
He has finally made his way to Minneapolis where he took over a rebuilding program that had no chance of competing for a conference title, a team that hadn’t made a bowl game since 2009 and turned them into a six-win team in two seasons.
Sure they were 3-9 in his first season and just 6-7 in his second season, but progress like that is why Minnesota hired him. Although four of their wins were in the non-conference and were against teams like New Hampshire and Western Michigan, they still made progress, remaining more competitive than they were in 2011.
With a freshman starting quarterback, Philip Nelson, leading the way for the Gophers for the next couple years, the young talent on this team can only get better.
Don’t be surprised if Jerry Kill and the Gophers make a run at the Big Ten title in a few years.