Jerry Kill Was All Gophers Football Could Hope For


Jerry Kill

And that is not as much of an insult as it sounds.

Jerry Kill is perhaps exactly what the University of Minnesota’s football program needs. 

A hard working, pound-the-pavement recruiter who will expect the same discipline he shows from his players. 

So when Minnesota’s fans jumped down Athletic Director Joel Maturi’s throat for this hiring, no one should have been surprised. 

It was a hiring out of left field, a man no one had heard of, and he slightly resembles Orville Redenbacher and Americas sixth president John Adams put together. 

So what was to get excited about?

The names bandied about (former Temple head coach Al Golden, former Texas Tech head man Mike Leach, and current Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen), were all unrealistic and outlandish. 

That is evidenced by Golden landing the Miami (FL) job, one of the top two jobs on the market. While Leach is a very good coach, he allegedly is not a very good person, shown by the obvious situation with former Texas Tech receiver Mike James and the closet he was supposedly locked in when Leach was head coach. 

al golden miami

That wouldn’t fly in Minnesota nice, and the boosters and loyal Minnesotan alumni that have a say would never have allowed it. 

Mullen, although the two most obvious destinations of Florida and Miami are filled, remains one of the best coaching candidates on the market, and is at a school that is currently ranked and in the SEC, things that outweigh an unranked, Big Ten school. 

The level of candidate the Gophers could realistically target was a little off the beaten path, a little less known, and with a slightly more spotty track record than the A list candidates on the market.

That’s Jerry, with only three years at the FBS level and none with a team in a BCS conference. 

Still, Kill has an impressive record of turning around programs in peril.

Northern Illinois was widely considered a bottom 10 program in the nation, ranked sixth in the ESPN FBS bottom 10 going into Kill’s first season there.

His previous stop was a horrendous program as well, but it took only two seasons to go from one win to double digit victories for FBS Southern Illinois.

The only beef Gopher faithful can have with Joel Maturi in the seven week long coaching search that supposedly covered all coasts, was the man that was sitting in the head coach’s office at Maturi’s very own university, Jeff Horton.

jeff horton

Horton went 2-3 after taking over the Gophers from midseason-oust Tim Brewster, losing to a Joe Paterno led squad and two ranked opponents, while winning a road game and defeating #24 Iowa to end the season. 

The road win got Horton 33% of the way to Brewster’s road conference win total, as he finished his Big Ten career with three, and the win over a ranked opponent made one for Horton, as Brewster still sits at zero. 

With impressive wins like those, especially over such a short period of time to turn the team around, Horton had Gopher faithful and boosters clamoring for Maturi to give him a chance. 

Not only did Maturi not do that, Kill didn’t either. 

After all the work and impressive results Horton got out of kids that had nothing to play for, he is rewarded with a trip out the door, as Kill announced he would be keeping the coordinators he had at Northern Illinois. 

One line of thinking was if you could not get a top line candidate like Golden or Mullen, that Horton should be the choice, partially because he had proven himself and partially to establish common ground with a fan base that has otherwise been alienated and distanced from the program.

But it seemed as if that was never an option for the Gophers, as Horton was passed over for a coach whose qualifications arguably did not meet his. 

But Horton will move on, and I’m guessing with much success, while Kill is left to clean up the leftovers of a horrendous 3.5 year period under Brewster.

At the moment, Kill is saying and doing all the right things, something Brewster could never claim, having built up the Gophers on his first day into a team that should be winning the conference and going to Rose Bowls, things that looked even MORE foolish after his first few seasons here.

Kill has wisely done the opposite, promising nothing but hard work and that he will give it his all, something a fan base will eat up. 

But Kill should be wary, because it’s easy to be a fan favorite when you’re inheriting a three-win program and you have all offseason to turn it into a winner.

When September comes around being a fan favorite will be tougher, and if results don’t flow in, he won’t have that title for long.

-Mike Gallagher


  1. it’s hard to get excited @ this point… i was thrilled @ the iowa win, & am sad for the coach who brought us the pig…

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