Football scandals: Kill knows players face temptations

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2011 - 6:51 AM
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Jerry Kill, talking with one of his players during preseason practice, knows he can't control everything a player does. ''I spend more time teaching them how to act ... than I do coaching football,'' he said.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Jerry Kill doesn't believe his players are engaged in widespread rule-breaking, taking improper gifts and services from boosters or agents. But he admits there's no way for him to know for sure.

"The only control you have as a coach is when you're in this building. And you only have 20 hours a week," the Gophers coach said one day after an Internet report alleged that a University of Miami booster had lavished money, cars, gifts and even prostitutes on dozens of Hurricane players over the past decade. "We're responsible for 105 kids. Can I tell you once they leave this building every single thing they do? There's no way."

Kill's approach, he said, is education. The Gophers hear presentations on a daily basis about agents, boosters, drugs, alcohol, social networking and other topics. "I spend more time teaching them how to act, and all the things that are out there to get them in trouble, than I do coaching football," Kill said. "But that's why I love coaching, to be honest. Everybody worries about wins, but my job is what happens to these kids after they graduate."

Kill believes major colleges are headed toward paying a monthly stipend -- $300 or so each month, he suggested -- to supplement the basic football scholarship and lessen the temptation to accept improper benefits. "But there are so many rules, we need to figure out what's truly important and get that fixed," he said.

Proper exchange

All it took was a little hands-on experience to get Zach Mottla and MarQueis Gray working together.

A day after flubbing three snaps during the team's first scrimmage, the Gophers' backup center and the starting quarterback spent some time going over the particulars of football's most basic act. "We worked a lot on it," Mottla said, "so I don't think we'll see those problems again."

Which is what his coach hopes, too. The Gophers spent plenty of time in the film room Tuesday, studying all their errors. "A great teaching film," Jerry Kill said.

Mottla, who took over the first-team job when Ryan Wynn rolled his left ankle on the scrimmage's third play, said there's a lot more to a successful snap than just hands and football.

"Different quarterbacks have different hand placement. Me getting the ball back [on the Tuesday fumbles], I might have short-armed it," said the Cretin-Derham Hall grad. "Or there's whether the quarterback keeps his hands together -- I mean, there's a lot more to it than just sticking your hands under there and getting a snap."

Wynn remained out of action Wednesday but had discarded the walking boot and crutches he used a day earlier.

Wired

Senior defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey wore a microphone during practice for an installment of the school's video diary of the football team. It provided some insight into the chatter in the trenches, he said, but provided a difficult challenge, too. "I had to keep it G-rated," he said. "That can be tough because your emotions get away from you down there -- you want to say a cuss word, but ahhhh. It's like when kids are around. I think I let two slip out."

Any on-camera critiques of his teammates? "I didn't throw anyone under the bus," he said. "Well, maybe D.L. Wilhite -- I told him to work a little harder."

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