The Minnesota Golden Gophers have had a storybook season this year. They have seen their coach Jerry Kill suffer from medical complications associated with his battle with epilepsy, but longtime defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys has shined in his opportunity to lead the team.
As the Minnesota football team celebrates their victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions with the Governors Victory Bell, one might pause to wonder, “what have we learned from the Golden Gophers this season with two games yet to be played?”
Unfortunately, this is not a BCS team in Minnesota this season. What we have learned is that this program is on the fast track to BCS relevancy. That’s right, the Golden Gophers have a recipe that other Big Ten teams should emulate if they want to do their part to help the Big Ten become competitive with the SEC and the PAC 12.
How have the Golden Gophers earned this consideration?
It all starts with their administration who brought in Kill as a head coach. When Minnesota selected Kill to lead their program, they hired a coach who had proved himself in college football and who succeeded at every stop he had. Coach Kill exudes a winning persona to everyone he comes in contact with. His creativity and spectacular game-planning are a product of his experience gained coaching teams who had less talent than he sees on a weekly basis in the Big Ten.
If coach Kill’s health is a concern for some, that will only help to motivate the man and his team. For Kill, it is not a matter of if he will return to coach his team, but a matter of when. How far has he actually distanced himself from the team? He has a constant line of communication with his coaches and his payers. Coach Kill has been at every game since he made the drive to Evanston to watch his Gophers take on and defeat the Northwestern Wildcats.
Finally, Kill has surrounded himself with a very good coaching staff. Never before have we seen in college football a head coach who could step away and trust his assistants to keep his seat warm for him when he returns. Even more impressive is the fact that many of these assistants want to stay on coach Kill’s staff because they have been with him for so long.
Following a year where assistants have been so involved in the success of the football team because of the absence of a head coach, there will probably be a lot of opportunity for members of the Minnesota coaching staff to accept promotions at different programs. That is not something that is likely to happen in this situation because of the loyalty the coaches have for Kill. Coach Kill and his team will be a team to beat for years to come in the Big Ten.