The unfortunate seizures that current Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill has suffered have led to some speculation about his job and the program in Minneapolis. The Gophers are off this weekend, but they will be traveling to Evanston, Illinois next week to take on the Northwestern Wildcats before returning home to host the Nebraska Cornhuskers at TCF Bank Stadium on October 26.
Kill has decided to take a temporary step away from the program to deal with his battle with epilepsy. Kill has been a great coach for the Gophers program and his absence is devastating, but his decision is definitely the right one. He is a very talented coach, but his health and his family must come first.
We have seen what the extreme stress of coaching college football can do to a person. Take for example all of the success that Urban Meyer experienced before eventually forcing himself to step away from the game and refocus himself.
Kill has been the head football coach at Minnesota for three years now, but has been a head college football coach for 19 years. He has lead successful teams at Siginaw Valley State,
Emporia State, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.
Kill has never left a school with an overall losing record. Currently, he has a losing record at Minnesota and he would surely like to return to the sidelines to rectify that.
Kill has two coordinators on staff that he brought with him from Northern Illinois, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys. Currently, Claeys is acting as head coach in Kill’s absence. Although Claeys is acting as head coach, he is in close contact with Kill at this time, and Kill’s influence on the team has yet to be relinquished.
The unfortunate truth in this situation is that Kill’s extreme passion and dedication to the game may be the reason why he is in his current position. Furthermore, his personality as a recruiter is vital for the program. Coach Kill is a great man and parents want their sons to feel his positive influence.
With the uncertainty of his position with the team, recruiting for the program may suffer.
So what can Golden Gopher fans expect to result from this situation? They should expect to see coach Kill return to the sidelines for the remainder of the season. He will not give up on his passion for the game easily. Upon completion of the season, the coach will have a difficult decision to make. Will he step away to concentrate on his health, or will he continue to try to get his epilepsy under control while still holding a high-pressure job at Minnesota?
The more difficult decision will have to be made by the university and the individuals on Kill’s current staff. Will Minnesota wait a year hoping that Kill can return, possibly missing out on a coach who in search of a program? Lane Kiffin recently became available, and his name was whispered in Minnesota before Kill took the job.
Also, Kill’s staff will have to decide if they are willing to coach in his absence for a season or look to further their careers with other opportunities. Overall, this is a tragic turn of events for a Minnesota team that started off the season doing so well and was a true reflection of their coach’s passion for the game. Best of luck to the Golden Gophers’ players, staff and family.