The Minnesota Golden Gophers lost their second straight game on Saturday, 42-13 at Michigan to drop to 4-2 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten. But the big story going into the game, and after, surrounded head coach Jerry Kill. He did not feel well enough to travel with the team to Ann Arbor on Friday, and then did not travel to the game as planned on Saturday morning after suffering an epileptic seizure.
Kill’s experience with epilepsy is well documented by now, at least locally in the Twin Cities, and he did not coach the second half of the Gophers’ Sept. 14 game against Western Illinois after suffering a seizure on the sideline just before halftime. This weekend’s seizure is the fifth documented seizure Kill has suffered since taking the job at Minnesota in 2011, and I stress the word “documented” since it’s likely he has suffered multiple seizures as a result of his condition that the public is not aware of.
Athletic director Norwood Teague re-affirmed that he is committed to Kill in a pre-game radio interview on Saturday, which is to be expected. Most of Kill’s assistant coaches have been with him for over a decade, so they know how to handle game situations without him, to a point where specific duties are clearly delegated as they were Saturday against the Wolverines.
Kill certainly has the Gophers’ football program going in the right direction after the debacle that was the Tim Brewster era, but a tough conversation, followed possibly by a tough decision, has to happen at some point. I don’t know if Saturday’s event will hasten that timetable for Teague and the athletic department, but Kill has to look out for his long-term health apart from his desire to coach and continue building the Minnesota program toward legitimate contention in the Big Ten.
I think it’s time for Kill to consider resigning as Gophers’ coach, though I don’t expect it to happen. The stress of his job is not necessarily thought to be a trigger for his seizures, and it’s admirable he has become a public face for epilepsy and being able to (mostly) function in a high profile job with the condition. But with that high profile comes attention and scrutiny when an incident like Saturday happens, and Kill’s refusal to address the issue in any substantial way after his seizure in September did not help the situation. I’m sure one of the major networks would pay Kill handsomely to talk college football, and he wouldn’t have to answer questions on virtually a weekly basis about his ability to do his job as he deals with his medical condition .
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.