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Gophers hire Jerry Kill - is he the Kill shot?

Joel Maturi has found his man and the Golden Gophers have a new football coach. Jerry Kill has steadily moved up the coaching ladder from Division II to smaller Division I to a BCS school. He has been a winner at every step of the way and the intent is to see him as a winner here.

The Resume

  • Saginaw Valley State (D2) - record - 38-14
  • Emporia State (D2) - record - 11-11
  • Southern Illinois (FCS) - record - 55-32 (even after a 1-10 record in his first season)
  • Northern Illinois (D1-MAC) record - 23-16
  • Overall record - 127-73 (.635)

What are Others Saying

*** Phil Miller gives us a good overview on the new coach. What is amazing is this little nugget.

Not since Lou Holtz in 1983 has Minnesota hired a coach with a winning record;

That is incredible. We did not land a sexy name or a public relations windfall. But we have hired a football guy who wins. Ultimately if that is what we get here in Minnesota that will be a great thing. Miller also snagged a quote from Brett Bielema who used to coach with Kill.

"He plays Big Ten-style football. He is going to line up and play physical and play hard," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said of Kill, a friend from their days coaching in Kansas in the 1990s. "He is just a very true guy, a very, very good football coach. He has won everywhere he has gone."

Everything I've ever heard about Kill is that he is a stand-up guy. Having an un-sexy name but a guy who is a good guy and knows how to coach football will be a good thing.

*** Marcus Fuller, got a hold of Ricky Foggie to get his thoughts on the hire.

"We were in such a dire need of getting the right guy in here," Foggie said. "It's hard to see why they wanted to get a guy that nobody really knows nationally to come in and rebuild. He might come in and do a wonderful job. But if you get a top-name guy, then you know you're going to be able to recruit. You know you're going to be able to get players and turn this thing around. Now it's kind of up in the air."

Recruiting is a real concern. I think it would be hard to argue that Kill has been a winner and he knows his football, but recruiting is a valid concern. Kill is the complete opposite of Tim Brewster.

*** Patrick Reusse, to nobody's surprise, is not on board with this hire.

There's reason to suspect that Maturi not only failed to make a hire that satisfied fans, but that it might have been a choice that failed to satisfy him.

Pat focuses pretty heavily on the fact that Kill's Huskies were 17.5 point favorites in the MAC Championship game and lost to Ohio. He also points out that he believes Paul Chryst would have been a better hire.

*** Tom Powers brings us back to the Tubby Smith like hire quote from Maturi when this whole process started.

"We're out here to find a Tubby Smith," Maturi said then, adding, "We're out here to find somebody that people can recognize, people have confidence in, and people are going to bring instant credibility and notoriety to the football program. That is my goal."

Well clearly this is not that hire.

*** Matt O'Connell at GopherIllustrated endorses the hire.

It is the opinion of the author of this piece that Kill is the exact kind of no frills, no nonsense coach that Minnesota needs to turn around nearly 50 years of mediocre or worse football. He has worked his way up to this job and has a better record than just about any coach that the Gophers realistically had the chance to hire. Kill might not have been the sexy name or the big time up and comer, but that is not what they need. They need a leader, someone who will make them work hard and learn the fundamentals of the game.

He might be right, but Matt has been on the Kill bandwagon for quite some time now.

*** FBT talks a bit about Kill but mostly comments about the process.

My Thoughts

I am coming around to the hire. It isn't a big name, that is clear. It isn't a recruiting home run, that is clear. But Kill has been a winner. He doesn't rely on gimmicks or shortcuts to win. He teaches players to be tough, to play fundamentally and how to win. I don't care if they hired my grandmother, if that is what she is going to accomplish then we would all be thrilled. With that said there is no guarantee that winning at Southern or Northern Illinois is going to equate to winning in the Big Ten. Here you need to teach kids how to play well and you need to be able to recruit great athletes.

What may matter more than anything else is who Kill hires on his staff. Not only does he need good coordinators, but he is going to need some recruiters on his staff. One should assume that Matt Limegrover will follow him to Minnesota as his offensive coordinator. Limegrover was with Kill at SIU and followed him to NIU. Tracy Claeys is his current defensive coordinator and has been in that role with Kill since 1999 at Emporia State. There is some loyalty and a long history of working together with those guys and while they too are not sexy names, I would bet they will be your 2011 Gopher coordinators. After that this staff could really use some recruiters. I'd be thrilled to see Thomas Hammock stick around. UPDATE: Fuller points out that Kill is likely to bring most of his NIU staff but also that Hammock is an NIU graduate and has spoken with Kill.

Looking over the NIU coaching staff it is full of guys who have been coaching with Kill a very long time. On the one hand that is outstanding, the thought of having a consistent coaching staff and not replacing coordinators every other year will be great for the program. On the other hand, nobody on his staff has significant experience coaching at the BCS level. There may have to be some new blood on the Kill staff but I look forward to the loyalty.

Time is always the truth teller. Maybe Kill wins here and maybe we are going through this in a few years with a new AD. Time will tell.