Say this much for Gophers coach Jerry Kill: He doesn't hide his true feelings on things.
Kill provided another unvarnished assessment of his program Tuesday in reviewing the Gophers 58-0 thrashing at Michigan and their 1-4 start. Here is a sampling from his 30-minute press conference:
"[Fans] want to blame me or yell at me, I'm OK with it," Kill said. "But I'm doing everything I can. I can't -- I learned a long time ago -- I can't tackle anymore. I'm too old to do that. But I've got to get people in place to do it.
"But people do have to understand we have what we have, and all I can do is work with it, and we slowly try to change the culture. It's maybe frustrating for fans. It's frustrating for coaches. You're talking about guys that have been successful, and worked hard all their life.
"What did I tell you in this room about a month ago? I said you find out about people through adversity. When things are really, really bad, how do people handle things? I'm getting to find out about our football team. I'm getting to find out about everything. How do you handle it? How do you deal with it?"
Kill said his program needs to develop a tougher "fight-back mentality" when things go wrong. Kill has heard more criticism from fans the past two weeks because of the team's poor performances, even though the Gophers lack of talent across the board is undeniable.
Kill was asked if the past few weeks have presented a harsh reminder of just how far this program has fallen and the monumental rebuilding job he faces.
"We're embarrassed," he said. "We let the state of Minnesota I mean, that's not how it's supposed to be done. I told our whole team. I said Bud Grant would be ashamed of us. You've got to respect the game and respect the game by playing it hard and playing it the way you're supposed to. I didn't say them. I said us. We're all in it together.
"We've got some kids here that have been through a whole lot. It isn't their fault. They've had head coaches dismissed during the season. Some of them have been under -- they had another coach, and they've had coordinators, and they've had assistant coaches and different academic people. They've had so much adversity that they don't know. Then when stuff hits, what's going to happen next? That is what our attitude is.
"I care enough about them that if I had children -- I've got two daughters -- and if they were going through all of that, what am I going to do? Am I going to kick them out the door, or am I going to go in there and try to save them and get them going? I'm going to try to save them and get them going. The ones that want to be saved.
"But, as my daddy said, you can't lead a horse to water and make them drink. They've got to want to drink and most of them want to drink. Shoot, we just need something good to happen. To have something good happen, you've got to go make something happen. You can't stand there and wait for it to happen.
"But, again, let's not blame the kids. We're the coaches. That's our job. I've always been able to motivate kids and so forth to play hard. I think that's a little bit of frustration.
"As a player, when things go bad, what are you going to do? Crawl under a shell and say it's going to happen again or are you going to do something about it? We have to learn to do something about it, coaches included. We've got to make them hang in there."