In general, the overall reaction I've seen to Kansas State's announcement that they have hired Jerry Kill as the associate athletics director in charge of football has been pretty decent. But I've also seen enough outrage, silly or otherwise, that I had to write a quick post about it. So let's talk about three things I think:
1) You can love and respect Coach Kill and be ok with him not working at Minnesota.
I love Coach Kill. I also think it would have been a bad idea for the U to offer him the same role at Minnesota that Kansas State did. My reasoning for this is simple:
- Kill wants a hands on role. He's been candid about it in the media and you're kidding yourself if you don't take him at his word. He didn't want to worry about the other things AD staff worry about like fundraising unless he got to help run the program (if at all). That's not an associate AD's job. Management of the football program is the purview of the head coach and the athletics director. I don't believe the job of "liaison" for the football program should be staffed by a hands on decision maker unless it's impossible for the head coach to work with the AD to get things done. There is nothing to suggest Tracy Claeys is a coach in need of a hands on buffer.
- This is Tracy Claeys' program now and I fail see how it would be his program if Kill is above him as a hands on decision maker. If you disagree, then I'd really appreciate an explanation of how you see it working. Not with a hypothetical role you envision, with the hands on role Jerry Kill has said he wanted.
- You can't move Kill into this position before the new AD was hired. To do so would create a potential power struggle between Kill and a boss who didn't hire him. If Kill was going to work in the athletics department that decision would need to come from the new AD. If Kill was bothered by that, then I'd argue his displeasure would be a clear sign that bringing him on board would have been a mistake.
Life After Jerry Kill
Nothing about what I wrote above diminishes my appreciation for what Kill did here, my respect for him as a person, or the level of excitement I feel for him as he takes on a job he wants in his home state. I'll never forget how excited I was to get a high five from him after the win at Nebraska in 2014 or the time he told me he liked my Zubaz ("nice pants") when I saw him after the Indiana game in 2013. It won't erase the importance of the Brick by Brick mantra. And it won't stop me from cheering him on at whatever he does from here on out.
2) You shouldn't be shocked that Kill's former players wish he'd been hired at Minnesota.
We've now got our first stories quoting former Minnesota players (from Twitter or on the record conversations) about their displeasure and confusion that Kill didn't receive a similar offer from the U. These folks love Kill as much or more than any of us ever could. It's not surprising that their affection would be something they share publicly, but there is nothing about being a former player that gives them any special understanding of what the department as a whole needs.
3) Minnesota Football won't succeed or fail because of this.
Coach Kill wasn't going to win football games as an athletics administrator. He wasn't going to create gameplans. He wasn't going to recruit players. Those are jobs for Tracy Claeys and his staff. If Claeys doesn't win here it will be on him (something he's clearly comfortable with and embraces fully). In the event another coach is needed, the hiring decision was never going to be Kill's. That responsibility would have been Mark Coyle's and Mark Coyle's alone. I can understand fan disappointment but there is a lot of "Minnesota Football would be better off because Kill was an asst AD" talk without any explanation for WHY that would be true.