GoAUpher Note: This is written by Elliot (PuckettWept). The site was being troublesome and kept him from getting it posted so I'm getting it up for him.
Jerry Kill suffered another seizure Saturday. Odds are if you're reading this post, you're already well aware of this development. In our age of #narratives and speculation-based storylines, the armchair doctors began spouting their diagnosis soon after he was taken away from the field. Among the TAKES, some opined that Kill's seizures were negatively impacting Minnesota's future recruiting efforts.
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN contended that since the University of Minnesota spokespeople said it was a situation they were ready and prepared to deal with and were not made available for additional comment, reporters should begin calling recruits to see if they think it is a big deal. He wasn't alone in making that jump.
Yes, minutes after watching emergency responders take Kill from the field by stretcher, the discussion moved from, "Are we sure this job isn't, like, literally, killing Jerry Kill? Are we sure he should keep doing this?" to "WE'RE LOSING ALL OF THE RECRUITS BECAUSE OF THE SEIZURE THING, MAN," which for some people was probably, "They won't answer my questions and I have a deadline to hit so now I'm going to start grasping at straws."
This is by no means meant as a takedown of Zulgad; I mention him by name only because we spoke about this subject on Twitter. A handful of media members and several more non-media members made similar assertions; certainly the University of Minnesota didn't help assuage these concerns by issuing a brief statement and declining to answer questions. But I say gasp at straws because if University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague would have taken questions Sunday afternoon, would the topic of how these seizures are impacting recruiting even have been broached?
Let's be clear: This isn't an issue that should be swept under the rug. Typically someone's health should be a largely private issue, but Jerry Kill's long-term and short-term health is an issue that should be discussed publicly by the University because we are all watching it play out live, either from our stadium seats or our living rooms.
It's hard to watch; witnessing an adult convulsing on the ground is not a sight many people are or probably ever should be used to seeing firsthand. Most people do not have experience with epilepsy or seizures in general; the more information shared is a good thing. There are serious questions that need to be answered about Jerry Kill's health, about the severity of these seizures and also less serious questions regarding the protocol for the team and coaching staff. There are many times I criticize Jim Souhan of the StarTribune, but his column tonight is not one of those times. Whether or not you agree with his assertion that Kill should step away from the Gophers, he is at least asking the right questions.
University officials need to address the topic in a frank, and up front, manner. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt if they needed more than a half of football to properly organize such an affair.
Responding to this latest incident by saying, "These seizures are really hurting recruiting" is completely the wrong focus. It's so out of the element of this discussion that John Goodman should be forced to interrupt such a statement and scream obscenities about attention span length into the interviewer's face.
I say gasping at straws because this "hurting recruiting" argument is a classic straw man. There have plenty of recruits that Minnesota has missed during Jerry Kill's tenure. Moreover, Kill isn't the only coach who has had to answer questions about his health. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack after the Spartans's thrilling OT win against Notre Dame in 2010. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer twice retired from Florida due to health concerns. Yet these coaches and their health concerns are never brought up when talking about Kill.
How did those coaches recruit with health issues hanging over their heads? They won games. That's the most important thing to most recruits. They want to win.
Not once, in an era where players routinely talk about their official visits on Twitter or are quoted by no less than three different recruiting services, did one player or high school coach ever mention that Kill's health issues were a large enough issue that they decided against enrolling at Minnesota.
I've never read or heard the local daily newspapers or sports talk radio stations mention a recruit saying as much, but I wanted to check with someone who would be first to know if that had been the case. I asked Gopher Illustrated Publisher Zach Johnson, who is in his 11th year at Rivals.com to see if the topic has come up much on the recruiting trail.
Johnson said it would naive to think that Kill's health is not at all an issue for incoming recruits, he said it is likely a very minor one.
"I have not heard one recruit or coach of a recruit bring that up as a negative issue when dealing with Minnesota," Johnson said over the phone. "But I know that recruits and coaches today are savvy enough not to say that it would be. It wouldn't make them look too politically correct in our politically correct world. ... I want to make it clear, when it comes to recruiting, there are thousands are factors that go into a kid's decision. To say it isn't one is probably naive. It's one of them, but it's probably just not a major one."
Others posited that Kill's health could be used by other coaches to recruit against Minnesota. But that is a process that has been going on since Murray Warmath had the Gophers in the National Championship discussion. (To those wondering, that's 50 years ago.) That course of action is going to continue whether Minnesota has a coach with a health issue or not.
To Minnesota's credit, they bring up the issue of Kill's health with recruits, Johnson said, and inform them about game day procedures and protocols in place for when an event like Saturday's occurs. On that end, Kill's health issues don't seem to be a major factor in terms of the program's recruiting efforts, Johnson said, but that he felt the biggest impact is felt during in-game management, considering that the team went without a head coach for an entire half of football.
Again, that is the type of question or concern that needs to be addressed. But baselessly suggesting that Kill's seizures are hurting recruiting efforts without any evidence?
You're out of your element.