Scoggins: Kill promises nothing, which is promising

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2011 - 6:20 AM
hide

Gophers coach Jerry Kill.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Jerry Kill relaxed in his chair inside a ballroom at a downtown Chicago hotel this summer. Outside the room, no more than 30 feet away, Glen Mason and Tim Brewster mingled among reporters and Big Ten officials.

It was an odd sight. Three generations of Gophers coaches so close in proximity. One made Gophers football competitive, one set it back, one is now charged with cleaning up the mess.

If only they could've cut out the middle man.

The Jerry Kill era officially begins Saturday at Southern Cal. His pull-no-punches approach has charmed Gopher fans in a way that Brewster's rah-rah routine never did because his lacked substance and a pause button when things went south.

Kill has promised the masses nothing except that he'll work hard, stick to a plan and bring discipline to a program that needs it. Whereas Brewster conjured up Rose Bowl trips, Kill preached patience, comparing his latest rebuilding job to others he's fixed.

"When they're broke, they're broke, and you've got to fix them," he said.

His message has resonated with a fan base that tired of Brewster's bluster. Muffled expectations are not necessarily a bad thing if they are realistic. Undersell, overdeliver is much easier to digest than the opposite.

Solid foundation needed

Kill defines his vision with a particular saying: He wants to build his program on concrete, not sand. That starts with recruiting and holding players accountable academically.

Instead of overhyping recruits before they step foot on campus as Brewster did, Kill's model is to find the right type of kids and then develop them. That second part is critical. Brewster vowed to compete against college football's heavyweights in recruiting, but that simply is not going to happen at Minnesota. Maybe occasionally but not consistently.

Brewster deserves credit for bringing in talented players such as MarQueis Gray, Troy Stoudermire and Da'Jon McKnight. But he also took too many risks and gambled on too many kids who couldn't cut it either athletically or academically. The result is a roster that now has more freshmen (53) than juniors and seniors combined (41). That doesn't make for a healthy program.

That's why Brewster's comments at the Big Ten media day were so laughable. He bragged about the talent level and claimed that upsets of Illinois and Iowa at the end of last season were evidence that he had the program headed in the right direction.

Earth to Brew: The Gophers won in part because they could breathe again. Instead of walking on eggshells, they were able to cut it loose and have fun.

What this program needs right now is continuity. Kill joked this week that coordinators and academic advisors rolled through the football facility under the previous regime "like club sandwiches." His line got a good laugh, but he was spot on.

Does anyone truly believe that Adam Weber's struggles as an upperclassman were solely a product of his talent? It was absurdly unfair to his development that he had four offensive coordinators in his career.

Some of the turnover was out of Brewster's control. Coaches left for better gigs. But programs need to foster an environment that fuels stability.

Kill understands that essential tenet as much as anyone. His coaching staff has a combined 94 consecutive seasons of service under him. Even if the Gophers go 0-12 this season, it's a safe bet Kill will return with the same staff, the same systems, the same plan.

"I came in here saying this is what I'm going to do, so I ain't changing," he said.

He can't solve the problem on an island, though. Kill is a proven coach, but he's not a magician. He's not going to pull a Big Ten title out of a hat or make challenges disappear by blowing a whistle.

Mason often used a one-word answer whenever someone questioned an aspect of his program. Commitment, he would say. Mason's tone turned off the bigwigs in Morrill Hall, but he had a valid point.

Minnesota has to be fully committed to football. It has to become important. Not just kind of important. It's a collective mindset.

Wisconsin has figured it out. So has Iowa. Sure, the border rivals hit home runs with coaches who built strong foundations, but they also understand institutionally the importance of having a successful football program. Perhaps the Gophers will strike gold with Kill too, but he needs help.

Stadium is just a start

The school made a huge investment with TCF Bank Stadium, but that's not the end-all, be-all. It's a critical and expensive piece to the puzzle and the school has made strides in other areas too, but the work can't stop there.

If that means stepping forward financially to keep or hire a top assistant, so be it. They need to keep pace in the arms race, continually improve facilities, make sure they have enough academic support for athletes and so much more.

This is not to suggest they hand the keys over and give any program carte blanche. That's just inviting trouble. Every program needs oversight, and the Gophers certainly can't afford any more scandals.

But decades of losing has resulted in a defeatist attitude and half-hearted acceptance of things, such as complaining about 11 a.m. kickoffs because of their inconvenience. No one denies the Gophers face inherent challenges. Our winters stink, the campus is located in a big city and they play in the Vikings shadows. But at some point those things no longer can be used as a crutch.

The dearth of Division I high school talent in this state is a real problem that isn't easily corrected. But with the right plan, work ethic and commitment, even that can be mitigated.

Jerry Kill wasn't the first choice for this job, but he just might be the right choice. He has a plan, and he won't cut corners implementing it.

It took time to dig this hole. Now it will take time to climb out of it.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 92 2nd Half 2:04
Chaminade 61
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close