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.
The Gophers announced their spring practice schedule today. All practices are open to the public again this year. Dates, times and places subject to change, but here goes:
March 4, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 6, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 8, 11:20 a.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 9, 11:20 a.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 11, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 13, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 25, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 27, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
March 29, 11:20 a.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 1, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 3, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 5, 11:20 a.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 8, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 11, 4 p.m. – Practice, Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex
April 12, 1:30 p.m. – Spring Game, TCF Bank Stadium
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."
Gophers linebackers coach Bill Miller is leaving to become the linebackers coach at Florida State, according to CoachingSearch.com.
Update: Gophers coach Jerry Kill confirmed that Miller is heading to Florida State.
Miller, whose title with the Gophers also included assistant head coach, has been a well-respected member of the staff with 36 years of experience. He had a previous stint with the Gophers, coaching the defensive backs from 1986 to 1988. He went on to become defensive coordinator at Miami, where he coached Ray Lewis.
Miller returned to Minnesota when Coach Jerry Kill took over in 2011.
Jerry Kill got his long his long-expected raise Saturday.
The University announced that Kill's contract has been restructured through 2018-19. He'll make $2.1 million next year, up from $1.2 million last year, which was the lowest salary among Big Ten coaches.
“Coach Kill is proving his model works here at the University of Minnesota,” Athletics Director Norwood Teague said in the press release. “It is right to support him as he builds a program that will make the state of Minnesota proud.”
The Gophers have gone 3-9, 6-7 and 8-5 in Kill's first three seasons, and Kill has turned around the team in the classroom, too.
“Jerry Kill is the right coach for the University of Minnesota,” University President Eric Kaler said in the press release. "He has clearly moved our program forward and I am pleased we have come to this agreement to secure his long-term leadership of Gopher football.”
Kill thanked Kaler and Teague for their support in his statement.
The coach added, "I am extremely proud of what our players and coaches accomplished on and off the field last season. We still have a lot of work to do, but are moving the program in the right direction. I look forward to continuing to build a program that positively represents the great people of Minnesota and am excited to work with our players again when we start spring practice in early March.”
Update: Kill's new contract will increase his salary by $100,000 each year. So he'll make $2.1 million, $2.2 million, $2.3 million, $2.4 million and $2.5 million over the next five years.
The contract also has language that guarantees that the Gophers assistant coaches' salary pool will rank in the Top 6 of the Big Ten.
Happy National Signing Day, everyone.
You can get the latest on the Gophers and other National Signing Day news on our Live Blog.
Jeff Jones made it official today, picking the Gophers in an announcement at Minneapolis Washburn. And soon after, the Gophers announced that Gary Moore signed his letter of intent.
That means all the players that were reportedly commited and speculated on heading into Wednesday, are in the fold. As of 11:25 a.m., the Gophers class ranked 49th in the Rivals.com rankings.
Earlier, Defensive back Craig James, who also delayed his official announcement until Wednesday, picked the Gophers. And the Gophers officially signed Jerry Gibson, who visited South Carolina last weekend. Here's a tweet from Gibson this morning:
Who can say that coach kill got on the phone and sung happy birthday #ICAN— Jerry Gibson (@TheNew_JG3) February 5, 2014
Here's a list of players already signed, sealed and delivered for Minnesota:
-Jonathan Celestin, LB, Jonesboro (Ga.) Mundy Mill, 6-1, 205: Gophers found this under-the-radar recruit while working on his high school teammate, Rodney Smith.
-Gaelin Elmore, TE, Somerset (Wisc.), 6-6, 245: Committed last June and held firm, despite offers from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Vanderbilt.
-Isaiah Gentry, WR, Cincinnati Moeller, 6-4, 185: Speedy receiver flipped his commitment from Kent State. Also had an offer from Rutgers.
-Jerry Gibson, ATH, Theodore (Ala.), 6-3, 220: Visited South Carolina last weekend. Top athlete who could be a tight end, defensive end or linebacker.
-Melvin Holland Jr., WR, Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods, 6-3, 190: A converted linebacker who turned heads as a senior receiver. Had offers from Wisconsin and Rutgers.
-Craig James, CB Edwardsville (Ill.), 5-11, 175: Had strong interest from Indiana and delayed official announcement until Wednesday but signed with the Gophers.
-Jeff Jones, RB, Minneapolis Washburn, 6-0, 198: Co-MVP from Under Armour All-American Game announced his final decision Wednesday.
-Julien Kafo, DE, Montreal (Que.) Vanier College, 6-4, 245: Had offers from Iowa and Nebraska, according to Rivals.com. Will be a 20-year-old freshman.
-Conner Krizancic, WR, Mentor (Ohio), 6-2, 190: Flipped his commitment from Cincinnati. Played quarterback as a high school senior.
-Brandon Lingen, TE, Wayzata, 6-5, 245: Wasn’t heavily recruited after being injured as a junior, but added 35 pounds and was a force as a senior.
-Connor Mayes, C, Van Alstyne (Texas), 6-5, 315: Played in U.S. Army All-American Game. Brother of Gophers lineman Alex Mayes.
-Gary Moore, DT, Mobile (Ala.) Murphy, 6-4, 285: Flipped his commitment from Southern Mississippi. Big, strong kid who can run the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.
-Cody Poock, LB, Iowa Western Community College, 6-2, 230: Picked the Gophers over TCU. Has three years of eligibility remaining. Already enrolled.
-Luke Rasmussen, OL, Brookfield (Wisc.) Central, 6-7, 270: Scored a 33 on his ACT exam, and had offers from Air Force, Harvard and Yale.
-Steven Richardson, DT, Chicago Mt. Carmel, 5-11, 285: Defensive MVP of the Chicago Catholic League had 34 tackles for a loss, including 17 sacks.
-Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, QB, Kansas City (Kan.) Wyandotte, 6-0, 210: Dual-threat passer had offers from Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. Already enrolled.
-Andrew Stelter, DE, Owatonna (Minn.), 6-4, 250: Consensus three-star recruit had offers from Duke, Harvard, Yale, Iowa State and Northern Illinois.
-Rodney Smith, RB, Jonesboro (Ga.) Mundy Mill, 5-11, 195: Tore an ACL as a junior but bounced back to rush for 2,200 yards as a senior.
- Jared Weyler, OL, Dayton (Ohio) Centerville, 6-4, 280: Flipped his commitment from Bowling Green. He’ll be an interior lineman for the Gophers.
-Everett Williams, LB, Mansfield (Texas) Legacy, 6-2, 220: Strong tackler with terrific grades. He had offers from Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
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