Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He previously covered the Minnesota Vikings for four years, starting in 2008. In addition, he covered college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
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."
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN -- I was here in 2005 when the Gophers claimed the Little Brown Jug with a 23-20 victory against Michigan.
That game felt like a lifetime ago after witnessing the Gophers get pummeled 58-0 by the Wolverines on Saturday. I wrote about the Gophers awful defensive performance for my column, but really you could pick any number of angles from this debacle.
Every facet of the program deserves blame today and you wonder when/if things are going to turnaround for this program.
We've said and written many times that Tim Brewster left the program in complete disarray. Everyone knows that. The difference in talent level between the Gophers and North Dakota State was non-existent last week so you can imagine how it looked Saturday against Michigan.
But honestly, this team is getting worse by the week. They're going backwards. It's hard to find any signs of progress right now, and the Gophers haven't even hit the hardest part of their schedule yet.
I covered Brewster's 1-11 season in 2007, and this season sure looks a lot like that one. They are a mess on both sides of the ball and Jerry Kill continues to highlight the lack of talent on the roster. You wonder how long it will take before this program becomes even competent again.
I wrote this state-of-the-program column on the day of the season opener that acknowledged this rebuilding job is going to take time. But I honestly didn't think things would be this bad.
Former Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman lives in Atlanta now, but he was at Winter Park on Wednesday after learning that he will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of their Oct. 23 game against the Green Bay Packers.
In 15 seasons, Doleman collected 150.5 sacks, fourth-most in NFL history. He led the NFL in 1989 with 21.0 sacks.
I asked Doleman, who began his career as a linebacker, about his pass-rushing ability and he said his motivation was pretty simple.
"I’m not a big quarterback fan," he said. "I’m serious. I’m just not. ... I realize the game has changed a lot. They’ve put even more of a premium on quarterbacks, but what you’re going to have is everybody is going to want to be a quarterback and nobody wants to do the other side."
Doleman was named to the Pro Bowl eight times in his career. He came out of retirement to play one final season for the Vikings in 1999.
"This was the last hurrah," he said. "This was the last hour before they close the bar, or whatever you want to call it. It was a great time to play football and it never felt like work. It just felt like getting out there and just having fun with your friends. We looked forward to the film on Mondays and see how well you played and see what level you were playing at, so I really enjoyed that time. And the last sack that I had, was pretty big. I went over 150 and it was against Green Bay so I mean, come on, what more can you ask for?"
Doleman was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and 2011. He believes he's worthy of enshrinement, but said it won't "define" him.
"If it happens it happens, but I am not going to sit up here and hold my breath," Doleman said. "Amongst defensive lineman I finished third in the history of the league and I’m still waiting. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m still waiting. If they call me and I’m alive, maybe I accept it, maybe I won’t. It might be, ‘You should have called me 50 years earlier’, I don’t know. But my point is that it’s not going to define who I am. As everyone goes into that stadium and you look around the rafters and you see your name there, you know that you have made your mark."
Buried beneath the rubble of the Vikings 0-3 start and trio of second-half collapses is the fact Bernard Berrian has only one catch for 17 yards on the season.
The Vikings were hoping for a bounce-back season from Berrian, who had only 28 catches and no touchdowns last season. It's no secret that Berrian and Brett Favre never clicked or developed any kind of chemistry on and off the field.
The Vikings were hoping that would change once Donovan McNabb arrived, but so far the results are the same. Berrian remains a non-factor in an offense that's desperate for a vertical threat.
McNabb targeted Berrian four times in Sunday's 26-23 loss to Detroit. Two of those passes came on third down in the fourth quarter when the Vikings needed to make a play.
McNabb overthrew Berrian on third-and-14 after Berrian had gotten a step on his defender down the sideline. McNabb missed Berrian again on third-and-5 with 1:22 left.
There's no secret to Berrian's game and how the Vikings want to use him. They want to hit him on deep throws to loosen up the defense for Adrian Peterson and the middle of the field for the tight ends.
But whether it's a lack of timing, Berrian's inability to get open, McNabb's inaccuracy, poor pass protection or a combination of a lot of factors, it's just not working.
"There were a few times where we tried to target Bernard, but I think we’ll continue to try to work on getting him the football," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "It’s just about getting that separation and getting in situations where we feel like we have a chance to get him the football. It’s something that we’re going to need between Donovan and Bernard, especially downfield making some plays. We’ll just have to continue to work on it."
I wasn't sure what to expect from Gophers coach Jerry Kill at his weekly press conference Tuesday. It was the first time I had seen Kill in person since he suffered a seizure in the final seconds of the New Mexico State game.
Kill made it perfectly clear that he isn't slowing down despite suffering more seizures while he was hospitalized. Our Gophers writer Phil Miller has some of Kill's spirited reaction on his blog right here.
I asked Kill about Saturday's opponent -- North Dakota State -- and how a number of players on the Bison roster are from the Twin Cities and wanted to play for the Gophers but were not recruited by Tim Brewster.
Kill didn't need any reminders about how motivated those players will be Saturday night.
"Well, I've heard about it since I took the job," he said. "Shoot, I was told I wasn't good enough for the job. So I'm one of those guys. You don't think I don't compete or I don't think about that from a day-to-day basis? So you bet your tail end they are going to come in here and be ready to play, and they are going to play with a chip on their shoulder.
"You don't have to convince me and tell me how hard those son-of-a-bucks are going to play. That's a subject that doesn't need to be discussed. I know they are going to play their best game, and I know they are going to play hard. I've got to make sure I our kids understand that. And, you know, if they don't understand it, they are not very educated, because it is what it is. They got beat in 2007 here and they had to block a field goal (to win in 2006).
"I lived with that I-AA and Division II label and all that, and I'm the same guy that ... we were I-AA and we went to Indiana and kicked their butt. Those things you can throw out the door. That's why college football is such a great sport. You don't know who is going to win from week to week. That's why you play. It don't matter what [darn] level it is, you'd better hook it up. They have some good players now, I'm telling you.
"So you're not going to hear me say anything because I know. I've lived it. Now, some of these people may not have lived it, and we have got some kids in the program that should have lived it still. [Duane] Bennett ought to remember it. So hopefully he'll get the message across."