In preparation for next week's Big Ten Media Days, the ESPN Big Blog took a look at 10 "Storylines to Watch" for the event. Number 9?
Jerry Kill’s health. Minnesota’s fourth-year coach, as much as he’d like to avoid the topic, will face more questions in Chicago about the epileptic seizures that forced him to coach from the press box for much of last season. The Gophers rallied behind their ailing coach. It was a feel-good story, though one that no one in the Twin Cities or elsewhere would like to relive. Kill has made excellent progress in the past several months. The coach and his players are anxious to put this issue to rest.
1) Is Coach Kill's history of seizures news? Unquestionably yes.
2) Is it a storyline to watch for? I can't see how.
- The primary way to cover Coach Kill's seizure disorder involves asking the same general questions he's been asked a bunch of times and getting some variation of the same answers he always gives. The big "news" this time around would be if he's still seizure free and able to drive. That was the good news he shared earlier this spring, but I'm not sure if he's remained seizure free until now. The media could also spend some time talking with Kill about the fund he started to help children with epilepsy through initiatives to improve seizure awareness in schools as well as to further fund Camp Oz.
- Everything I just wrote about is certainly news worthy. But I struggle to see how it would be a storyline to watch for. While I would love for his advocacy and efforts to educate folks about epilepsy get bigger play, it's not really a football storyline. And unless you expect Kill to announce something earth shattering like he's stepping down from coaching because of epilepsy, I would expect the answers to the seizure related questions to fall under same old, same old.
- The second way to cover Coach Kill's seizure disorder at the B1G Media Days is to be an idiot. This covers a lot of potential ground, including stories about why he should retire, how his health is at risk, why seizures scare people, how long can the Gophers win despite the seizures, etc. In other words, be Jim Souhan. This is neither newsworthy nor a storyline to watch for.
What I Am Not Trying To Say:
- That the media shouldn't talk about it or ask him about it.
It's a perfectly newsworthy topic. I'm simply arguing that I don't think it's a particularly noteworthy one given how Kill, his staff, and his players have shown that they can deal with the impact of the seizures successfully and the fact that all the general questions have been covered ad naseum.
I get understand the temptation for the media to treat the former (regular newsy questions/answers about Kill's disorder) like it's bigger than it is. It's easy to sensationalize the seizures. I really hope the media doesn't though. I want to see the following:
- The media to ask a bunch of valid questions.
- Coach Kill to give his normal responses, hopefully with some additional notes of advocacy and humor.
- The media write a bunch of boring stories that don't overplay or over think the situation.
- No one pulls a Souhan.
If we can get through media days with that being the outcome I will be a very happy blogger.