Coach Jerry Kill opened the press conference this morning with an emotional statement in which he thanked the state of Minnesota for their support, including but not limited to the administration at the University of Minnesota, his own coaching staff and players, and the fans. He talked about how coaching football has been his life and career for the past 32 years, admitting that he has no idea what his future holds now that his coaching career is over.
One quote, in particular, speaks volumes as to how difficult a decision this was for Coach Kill: "Last night, when I walked off the practice field, I felt like a part of me died."
The coaching staff and the rest of the team received the news of his retirement earlier this morning from Coach Kill.
Coach Kill did not elaborate on the specifics of his health issues -- nor should he be expected to -- but said that his doctor warned him that his health could worsen further down the road if he continued on his current path, and advised him to step down in the best interest of his family and future. He did mention that he attended practice on Tuesday after suffering two seizures earlier that day. Not good.
There was a question regarding the timeline of his decision, but Coach Kill didn't offer specifics as to when he first began considering retirement. He mentioned that he hadn't slept more than 3 hours in a single night over the last three weeks. "Hell, that ain't no way to live," Coach Kill said.
Coach Kill also did not hesitate to praise defensive coordinator and now interim head coach Tracy Claeys, and even said, "There is no better person to take over." He offered no shortage of credit to his staff.
To be honest, Coach Kill didn't have a lot of answers to the reporters' questions. It was clear he has been wrestling with this decision for some time, with little thought about what the next step is, which is understandable.
It was the most difficult press conference I've ever had to watch. When your head football coach has to sit in front of a group of reporters and say, "I can't do what I love doing anymore," with tears in his eyes, you can't help but feel sad and devastated at what he must be going through.
Reactions from across Twitter this morning were unanimous:
It is sad to see Jerry Kill step aside for @GopherFootball. The guy was one of the best coaches I had ever been around.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) October 28, 2015
Jerry Kill one of the more genuinely good guys in coaching. His peers love him. Finishes his career 29-29 at Minnesota, 156-102 overall.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 28, 2015
Coach Kill's final record isn't indicative of the overall body of work he's done in Dinkytown. Arguably best hire in decades for Minnesota.— Kyle Goblirsch (@GobieNFN) October 28, 2015
One of the greatest men I've ever met. Love you coach! Coaching or not, I know you will continue touching lives! pic.twitter.com/7xikCcq6fZ— Cedric Thompson Jr.™ (@cedjunior2) October 28, 2015
University president Eric Kaler and interim athletic director Beth Goetz also spoke to the media after Coach Kill left the podium. Here are a few of their comments via Twitter:
"I have the utmost respect for Tracy Claeys and have all the confidence that he and the coaching staff will get the team going." -Beth Goetz— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) October 28, 2015
Minnesota president Eric Kaler says after review of program is complete, search for permanent AD begins, then football coach.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 28, 2015
Just a sad situation for all involved. Keep Coach Kill in your thoughts. We'll have more on his retirement and what that means for the program throughout the day and the rest of the week, I'm sure.