Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
What has Jerry Kill's exact role been with the Gophers these past few weeks? I get that question a lot, so here's a quick attempt to clear it up, based on the information at hand.
Basically, it seems like he's back to work full-time, and the only difference has been that he's been coaching from the press box coaching booth on Saturdays with acting head coach Tracy Claeys on the sideline.
On Oct. 10, Kill announced that he was taking time to treat his epilepsy. He went to a level-four epilepsy treatment center in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a few days and a spent some time at his downtown Minneapolis home, away from the office.
He visited Gophers practice before the team left for the Northwestern game on Oct. 18. That night, his wife, Rebecca, drove him to a hotel about 90 miles outside of Evanston, Ill. Kill surprised the team by showing up at Northwestern, and spent that game mostly watching from the coaching booth.
Kill, 52, has been at every practice since that day. Starting with the Nebraska game on Oct. 26, he was heavily involved in the game-planning and in-game decision making. He's been careful not to steal credit from his assistants, but at the same time, the Gophers are fighting a perception that Kill has faded into the background.
Kill has gradually resumed all of his media obligations. For now, Kill plans to continue coaching from the coaching booth, but much of that stems from the fact the team is riding a four-game winning streak.
The Gophers have a bye this week before a key showdown with Wisconsin on Nov. 23.
In an interview Monday on Big Ten Network, Kill said, "I’m fortunate to have Coach Claeys, who’s been with me a long time, and we’ve been able to make the transition pretty easy. It’s just like anything, he gets better [coaching] on the field each week, and I think I’m getting better in the box each week. So it’s worked out good, and we’re having success doing it, and no use to change right now."
Kill went on to tell former Gophers coach and current BTN analyst Glen Mason that they both know there are days as a head coach when you work 15-16 hours.
"I’m still working 11-12-hour days, and really nothing’s changed a whole lot," Kill said, noting that he's been able to delegate more of his duties to Claeys and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover as of late, as he continues to work on his epilepsy treatment.
In the time I've spent around Kill, he's been in good spirits and feisty as ever. Hope that helps clear up some of the questions.
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