(Please prepare for clichéd Minnesota weather contrast opening..._
On a frigid Minnesota Saturday night I had the opportunity to attend the Goal Line Club's Meet & Greet Event with Coach Kill and his staff in the DQ Club Room at The Bank. While it was colder than a well-diggers bottom outside (I was going to go with "a witch's _____", but this is a family blog), the feel inside of the DQ Club Room was incredibly warm.
Gopher fans are excited, and that was clear on Saturday night. Word has it that the Goal Line Club was expecting around 150 attendees to the event, but the event ended up drawing over 275 Gopher fans and there was a clear buzz among those in attendance. There is an anticipation for this coaching staff and it's ability to do good things on the field that Gopher football fans are really giddy about.
Coach Kill took the microphone around 6:00pm, talked briefly, and then took questions. A lot of questions. The event was scheduled to be done at 6:30, but Coach Kill ended up taking questions for an additional 15-20 minutes from Gopher fans saying, "I owe this to you people. You've been very loyal to this program." You have to appreciate that kind of attitude toward the loyal fans of the football program because Jerry Kill doesn't owe us anything, but making a statement like that shows that he truly understands what he's walking into and he appreciates the opportunity. He's not selling anything.
What struck me about Coach Kill is how plainly he talks. He doesn't sugar coat things, he doesn't throw in any razzle-dazzle. If he can answer a question, he'll answer it. And if he can't, because of recruiting or privacy or the like, he'll tell you why.
A question was asked about what things he's focusing on besides recruiting right now, and Coach Kill said very matter-of-factly, "The first thing we've gotta do is get these kids to be on time and get to class." You get the impression very quickly with Jerry Kill that academic accountability isn't just lip service.
The other impression that I'm starting to get from Jerry Kill is that things were probably a little bit loosey-goosey under Tim Brewster... much more so than we thought. Getting the players to do the right things, on and off the field, was a common theme.
Besides pointing out that the players need to learn to be on-time and be accountable for their grades, Coach Kill talked about the need for this team to get stronger and faster. And specifically regarding facilities he said "There's no question we've got to improve the weight room." I was a bit surprised by that last comment as I'd been under the impression that our strength and conditioning under Brewster was much improved. But if a guy coming from a small university is saying that our weight room needs to be upgraded, well, that should tell us quite a bit.
And remember last spring when Brewster and his staff were telling us how much bigger and faster and better the defense was going to be? Well, we saw how that worked out, partly thanks to Jerry Kill's NIU squad back in September. We knew based on the outcome of that game what Coach Kill thought of the Gopher defense, and he made no bones about it on Saturday night: "We're spending a lo of time recruiting defense."
Overall it was a really good event, and I came away even more impressed with Coach Kill than I already was. Look, we don't know if Kill and his staff will win here, but based on what I've seen, I have absolutely zero doubt that he will do everything he possibly can to bring some pride back to the Gopher football program.