Gophers coach Jerry Kill raved about University president Eric Kaler's commitment to football at a press conference Monday, in the coach's first extended comments about a new contract that will pay him an average of $2.3 million through 2018.
"I’m not going to turn the program around by myself," Kill said. "It all comes with the people of the state, and the most important person in that whole thing, is [University president Eric Kaler]. ... I can guarantee you, he doesn’t want to be middle-of-the-road on anything."
Kill, who made $1.2 million under his previous deal, has tried hard to keep the money in perspective.
"I’m the same guy who lived in a trailer house, I believe for five years, and made $250 a month," Kill said about his early coaching days. "And I was very appreciative then, very appreciative. And if I had to go back to doing that, I’d be alright."
Kill said his brother called to heckle him about his new deal, saying "'You ain't worth that. I’m sitting here working on beef cattle, and they’re paying you that to coach football. Is this country crazy?"
"I just chuckled and said, 'Hey, I can’t answer that question. They may be.'"
Kill said he wouldn't have signed his new contract without the provision that guarantees his assistant coaches' salary pool will rank in the Top 6 of the Big Ten.
"And the president understood that," Kill said. "So did [Athletics Director Norwood Teague]. That’s more important to me because we all work together. I think the administration realized that, and we’ve got good coaches.
"Again that credit goes to the people a the top. Everybody questions, but president Kaler -- he wants to win. I don’t think there’s any question about it."