In light of the week's events, I did not have the heart to write the usual snarky comments about our conference brethren. Instead, I'm taking a few moments to consider Jerry Kill's legacy from the perspective of the rest of the Big Ten.
Coach Kill's tenure at Minnesota was short, certainly shorter than most of wished for. His decision to retire from the only way of life he's known rocked the man himself, the Gopher community around him, and many, many people across the sports landscape. As Spencer Hall notes in his own inimitable way, when you give that much of yourself to work, how much of you is really left? His naked honesty, but also his desperate desire not to put football behind him was heartbreaking and left most of us in tears.
Not even opposing coaches were exempt, and many of Kill's Big Ten colleagues shared their thoughts after the announcement.
Pat Fitzgerald, reflecting on Kill's no-nonsense attitude, had this to say:
He's a coach's coach, a true pro. He's not a P.T. Barnum-type coach that is concerned about branding and getting his face out there. His program is all about the players and developing young men. His teams took on his personality — tough and physical. This is a sad day.
Bill Cubit who has coached against Kill in the MAC and the Big Ten echoed the sentiment, calling Kill "hard-nosed, honest" and "just a good, good person." Cubit also took to Twitter to express his feelings:
Coach Kill. A great coach but a better man. Love ya Coach.— Bill Cubit (@CoachCubit) October 28, 2015
Michigan will take on Minnesota this weekend in very different circumstances than either program could have anticipated a week ago. Jim Harbaugh has unpleasant memories of losing to Minnesota as the Wolverines' Heisman-contending quarterback in 1986. But he also has history with Kill from his days as an offensive assistant on his father Jack's staff at Western Kentucky when Kill was turning around Southern Illinois' football program. So when Harbaugh needed help with a particular play as a new head coach at San Diego, he naturally turned to Kill.
Even though things are different now and Harbaugh is the shiniest new star in the Big Ten firmament, he had nothing but praise for Kill:
I (remember) a quote: "A coach can influence more people in one year than most people do in a lifetime." I'm not speaking about everybody, but in terms of Jerry Kill, I know it for a fact. I truly believe he is one of the premiere coaches and persons in the profession.
Urban Meyer, who has been friends with Kill for 20 years, had to step away from the game for health reasons himself some years ago. He got a bit choked up as he wished Kill and his family well.
Closer to home, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz praised Kill for the positive impact he's had at Minnesota:
I have tremendous respect for the coaching job he has done at Minnesota and even more so for the manner in which he has done it.
Even those outside the Big Ten football fraternity weighed in. Suzy Merchant, the women's basketball coach at Michigan State, first met Kill when they were both first-time head coaches at Saginaw Valley State. In this clip, she reflects on the lessons she's learned from her association with Kill, including the importance of embracing your team and community.
Finally, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, who was mentored by Kill in high school at Midwest City, took time to honor his old coach on Twitter:
Jerry Kill was one of my high school coaches ... Our profession lost one of the finest men in the game with Coach Kill.— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) October 28, 2015