Jerry Kill's Health Makes Minnesota's Future Unclear

By Derek Helling
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

University of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill had yet another seizure on the sideline of a game that his Golden Gophers were playing in this past Saturday. It’s now the fourth time Kill has had an episode in the past three seasons. Kill’s continued position as the Golden Gophers’ head man puts both the university and himself in an uncertain situation.

Kill suffers from epilepsy, an electrical disorder of the brain that can cause him to go into convulsions at any given time. It’s been proven that stress is one of the things that can trigger an episode in some epileptics.

Kill valiantly goes about his job everyday as a role model for those with the condition and to raise awareness about epilepsy in the community. Questions have been raised before about whether the stress of being a Big Ten head football coach could worsen his condition.

Kill’s condition aside, his tenure in Minneapolis has been far from a rousing success. Since he took over the program going into the 2011 season, the Golden Gophers have gone 12-16 and average being outscored by 15.9 points per game. In Kill’s defense, however, 2012 was a big improvement from 2011 and his team is undefeated so far this season.

Removing Kill at this stage for the team’s performance would be premature. Kill’s predecessor, Tim Brewster, was given three full seasons and a partial fourth before he was fired by Minnesota. If the seizures continue, however, the University of Minnesota may eventually have to look at their options.

Kill has repeatedly said to the media that if he ever felt the stress was seriously affecting his health, he would walk away from his position. His condition may not yet warrant his resignation, but perhaps some adjustments. Most fans will remember how Joe Paterno coached from the booth in his last days at Penn State. That may be an option for Kill.

Another option may be similar to what Pat Summit did in her final season as head coach of the University of Tennessee‘s women’s basketball team. Her assistants all took on larger roles, making Summit somewhat of a figurehead. While this may not be what Kill or Minnesota wants, it may be a necessary evil at some point to keep Kill on and still take care of the program.

So far, the Golden Gophers have handled Kill’s condition very well. It’s the hope of everyone that Kill’s condition is able to be maintained if not improved. What’s for certain, however, is that the future of Kill’s health and job are not as firm as anyone would like them to be.

Derek Helling is a Big 10 football writer for Follow him on Twitter @DRokSH, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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