Jerry Kill on A.J. Barker accusations: "If I feel bad about anything I feel bad for him"
Kill: "My strength as a coach has been my relationships with players... they've always played hard for me."
This morning, Gophers football coach Jerry Kill held an impromptu press conference to address allegations made by WR A.J. Barker in a blog post yesterday.
In a feature-length post announcing he'd quit the team, Barker -- a junior who was attending school without a scholarship -- called Kill a "master manipulator." Barker said Kill, frustrated with Barker's slow recovery from an ankle injury, told him during a profanity-filled exchange at practice last Thursday that he had no chance of receiving a scholarship next year and would 'have to work his way from the bottom up' whenever he was healthy to play again.
During today's presser, Kill didn't deny chewing out Barker during practice, but said he felt as head coach he had no choice.
"A.J. had a confrontation with one of our trainers. I usually let things go, but it got so loud I called A.J. over and let him know that I wasn't very happy," Kill said. "I can't tell you exactly my words during that time, [but] your job as an athlete is you have to make sure you go to the training room to get better."
Kill said he harbors no ill-will toward his disgruntled former player.
"I feel bad for A.J. I feel bad that's the way he feels about the situation and I'll do anything I can to help in the future, whatever he decides to do. I'm all for the kids," Kill said, adding that "the wins and losses on my tombstone will are how many kids you've saved and how many you've lost... that's a loss for me."
But Kill denied the notion he treated Barker differently than any other player.
"It's hard when you have a roster of 120 people to keep them all happy. You can't scholarship them all, [but] I do the best I can with what we have to work with," Kill said, adding that he never told Barker he definitely wouldn't be receiving a scholarship next year.
He continued: "I don't treat our players any differently than I treat my two daughters. When I need to be tough on my two daughters, I can be tough on my two daughters, but you know what? They haven't turned out too bad."
"That's how I was raised -- a culture of discipline. You respect your elders, you respect people and there's a hierarchy. I know when I was 19, 20 I made mistakes and did some things, and got hammered for it and took it like a man, and that's the best thing that happened to me," Kill said.
As for the allegation that one of Kill's assistants called Barker a "faggot," Kill said "nobody has ever done that."
"I'm not around every single minute. As far as when I've been around, nobody has ever done that," he said.
"I feel bad, but you have to move on," Kill said. "We have a bunch of players excited about playing Michigan State [this Saturday]."
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