In my entire life, there has not been a single day where I’ve received more Tweets, Facebook notifications, texts, emails, and phone calls than today from Gopher fans in shock (this puts the day we got Floyd back to shame). And I say shocked, not as any kind of knock to Jerry Kill, our new Gopher Football Coach. He has had very successful records at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, and Northern Illinois where he went 10-3 this past year. He’ll be taking the Huskies to the Humanitarian Bowl. Joel Maturi shocked Gopher fans because before Joe Schmit broke this story, 99% of people had never mentioned Kill as a viable candidate, or one we were looking at. Looking at GopherHole.com, we had over 3000 people online today, with over 250K page views, and when predicting the next Gopher Football Coach, not one had even mentioned the name Jerry Kill: http://boards.gopherhole.com/boards/showthread.php?t=22322&highlight=predict The closest one poster got was guessing “Some guy you never heard of.”
In my opinion, this was a clear case of not setting realistic expectations. Had Joel Maturi come out and said Minnesota was open to “up and coming” coaches from smaller conferences, coordinators, etc., this would be a different situation. Unlike Tim Brewster, Kill does have head coaching experience, and he’s won at every school he’s been at. However, at the press conference where Maturi announced Brewster’s dismissal, he said:
“We're out here to find a Tubby Smith. 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. Whether that is that interest, remains to be seen, but I'm excited about the time line that we have.”When asked about putting together a formal search committee, he also commented
“The reality of it is you will not hire a significant coach doing it that way. Now if we're going to hire a coordinator, and we may, if we're going to hire a mid‑level coach, and we may, because that may be the best person that is available to us, that would be a process that might be successful. If you're going to get somebody who, you know, has a little bit more notoriety and attention to it, you can't do it that way. Not in today's world.”
Statements like these imply that he had hopes of getting a big name coach.
Now I know what you’re thinking – there must not have been interest with a recognizable big name (at least, that’s what Sid Hartman will say). Well, I consider Mike Leach a pretty big name in the college football, and he certainly had interest in the Gopher coaching job. Charley Walters interviewed Leach this past week and he said he would be interested in the Gophers’ job, under the right conditions www.twincities.com/ci_16705911. One of those conditions was a focus on academics, as he has a 79% graduation rate at Texas Tech. He took them from one of the lowest graduation rates to one of the top graduation rates, which is commendable.
Obviously, I don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but I do know that we fired Brewster during the season, which should have given us a leg up on any other schools looking to hire. I also know that we were reassured that the coaching search was going well. I also know that the U of MN was going to announce the new coaching hire via social media, and everyone began following them on Twitter and Facebook, and that did not happen. The University allowed the story to spin out of control, and allowed those on Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere to set the overly negative tone for the hire, rather than coming out with a positive, well spun press release after they finally confirmed Kill as the hire.
The person I feel worst for in this process is Jerry Kill. By all accounts, he seems like a good coach, very consistent, and I am sure he’s a very nice guy that I look forward to meeting. I just hope that any animosity towards Gopher Athletics, this coaching selection process, and Joel Maturi is not aimed at him – and he is welcomed by Gopher fans. He is not the big name that we all had expected, but he has a solid record, and I’d like to welcome him to Minnesota, wish him the best, at will be at every game at TCF Bank rooting for him and this Gopher Football team. I hope the rest of Gold Country will too.