Gophers coach Jerry Kill supported the NCAA’s vote Thursday to grant rule-making autonomy to the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-12. But he also remembers what it was like coaching outside the so-called “Power 5” conferences, at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.
The first measure the Power 5 likely will approve is a cost-of-attendance stipend for every athlete, which will be worth between $2,000 and $5,000 per athlete, depending on the school. That expense alone could add more than a $1 million cost to an annual budget.
“The schools I was at before, I feel bad for because it’s going to be tough for them to get that type of money,” Kill said. “But whether you like it or don’t like it, it goes back to student welfare, taking care of kids. We’re making a whole lot of money in this game, everybody, including coaches, and the players need to be taken care of.
“And when I say that, it’s simple things like being able to fly their parents in on recruiting trips. Training tables, you just keep going on. The stipend because they don’t have a summer job.”
Athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement that the Gophers are “extremely pleased” that the NCAA approved the autonomy measure.
“While there is much to sort out as we move forward, we are excited about having the ability to focus intently on the well-being of our student-athletes, while continuing to provide our university, alumni and fans with the many benefits college athletics brings,” Teague said.
New fullback option
A converted linebacker, Jephte Matilus, has moved toward the top of the depth chart at fullback, as the Gophers search for Mike Henry’s replacement.
“The thing that’s impressed me most about [Matilus] is he’s not making a lot of mental mistakes,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. “I mean it’s not an easy position — just go right, go left and hit somebody. There’s a lot that goes into it. Not only physically is he bringing it, but he’s not making a lot of mental mistakes.”
Limegrover said Matilus, Miles Thomas and Tyler Hartman have all played well.
“We were nervous about it,” Limegrover said. “It’s nice to have a guy like Jephte. Miles Thomas is stepping up, and then obviously Tyler being healthy, it gives us a little more sense of security.”
Kill said he’s been impressed with several true freshmen. Asked about defensive tackle Steven Richardson, the coach couldn’t contain his smile.
Richardson is listed generously at 6 feet tall, but he is a 291-pound fire hydrant, who clogs running lanes and has shown surprising speed. He could be an option for the Gophers behind starting defensive tackles Cameron Botticelli and Scott Ekpe.
“I’ve been getting after our offensive linemen to get their pad level down [to leverage the defensive linemen],” Kill said. “They’re probably looking at me, thinking I’m crazy on that kid.”