The following editorial appeared in the Minnesota Daily.
Jerry Kill was not the flashy big-name head football coach most fans — or boosters — had hoped to see to lead the Gophers. And while Athletics Director Joel Maturi certainly settled on Kill rather than pursue him from the beginning, the new coach does bring a winning history and air of realism that certainly didn’t define his predecessor, Tim Brewster.
At Northern Illinois, the Huskies went 2-10 the year before Kill’s tenure began, during which he racked up a 23-16 record. He took his team to the Mid-America Conference championship game this year and did so having never recruited a 4-star recruit. This year, Kill’s team won nine straight games, including a 34-23 win at TCF Bank Stadium. The Huskies were ranked as high as No. 24 in the nation in the AP rankings.
Such stats are a refreshing change from the Brewster years, as was Kill’s introductory press conference. Kill came off humble, but confident and optimistic, as well as realistic. There were no utterances of “Gopher Nation,” let alone a promise to bring it back to the Rose Bowl, false confidence that would eventually sink Brewster.
Kill came as a bargain to the cash-strapped athletics department as well. His contract will carry a $1.1-million base salary, one of the lowest in the Big Ten. It’s incentive-laden, promising $150,000 for a conference championship and $200,000 for a national title. If his athletes succeed in the classroom, like they did at NIU, five- to six-figure bonuses follow.
Kill certainly wasn’t an exciting choice for this job. Fans responded predominantly negatively, and Maturi is taking a beating from them. But Kill should at least get a chance to prove himself before fans accost the choice.
Reprinted with permission of Minnesota Daily Editorial Board.