Jerry Kill will coach the Gophers and Joel Maturi will cross his fingers
Jerry Kill is not Tubby Smith.
Back on September 25, Jerry Kill and his Northern Illinois Huskies handed the Gophers their third straight home loss of the season.
Now Kill is coming back to try and give Minnesota a hand out of the ditch. The university will officially announce its way-off-the-national-radar pick for head football coach at a 2 p.m. presser today at TCF Bank Stadium, after Kill meets the team.
The coaching pick news seeped out yesterday, in time for sports scribes and former Gophers around town to offer a collective "what?" Athletic Director Joel Maturi had led fans to believe he was after a Bold Faced Name.
"We're out here to find a Tubby Smith," Maturi said then, adding, "We're out here to find somebody that people can recognize, people have confidence in, and people are going to bring instant credibility and notoriety to the football program. That is my goal."
So, Jerry Kill's that guy? No he's not. But he's no loser, either. The 10-3 Huskies won the MAC West Division this year before losing the league title game to Miami of Ohio 26-21 Friday night in Detroit. He amassed a 23-16 overall record at NIU, 55-32 before that at Southern Illinois and 127-73 over the course of his career.
Compare that to Tim Brewster, who before being consigned to the dustbin of NCAA history, went 15-30 in 3 1/2 miserable seasons coaching the Gophers.
Let the PR campaign begin.
"I am so excited to have the opportunity to be the head coach at the University of Minnesota," Kill said in the statement. "It is a tremendous opportunity and -- I think -- great timing. I can promise all the people at the University of Minnesota and throughout the entire state that I am going to give them every single ounce that I can give them. I have done that on every job that I have taken. I was raised the old-school way by my father and mother to do my job to the very best of my ability. You go full speed at it and you don't let anyone out-work you. I have lived by that motto my entire life and that is what I intend to do at the University of Minnesota."
Maturi better hope so. Kill is clearly going to be a tough sell. Besides the aforementioned skeptical scribes, there's already a Fire Coach Kill Twitter page. A website called savegopherfootball.com has posted the e-mail addresses for Maturi, U President Robert Bruininks, the university's board of regents to offer fans a chance to vent. Former Gopher Jack Brewer spoke for a lot of puzzled fans when he told Fox 9, "I was hoping we'd actually go out and get a coach that was bigger than our program."
Kill has already abandoned his own program. NIU is set for an appearance against Fresno State at the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 18. But he told his team was jumping ship, and wouldn't see them through the bowl game.
Talk about killer instinct.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.