Kill might be able to coach by Saturday

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 12, 2011 - 11:01 PM

The Gophers coach hasn't missed a game following previous seizures, and the team's doctor believes that trend could continue.

It's too soon to tell whether Jerry Kill will coach the Gophers against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, the football team's physician said Monday, but he knows which way he would bet.

"You want a gut feeling?" Dr. Pat Smith said. "Absolutely."

Good guess. Despite a medical condition that has sent him to the hospital six times in the past 12 seasons, Kill has a perfect attendance record at his team's games. He's cut himself during a seizure, broken ribs, lost 15 pounds in a week, and even put off cancer surgery -- but he's never failed to lead his players into competition.

Which is why Smith's news conference sounded a lot like those held by physicians who have treated Kill before.

"As you'd anticipate, Coach Kill's feeling is that he wants to get back on the field," said Smith, who expected the coach to be released from the hospital "sooner than later," though he remained hospitalized Monday night. "So we're going to make sure [his] medication levels are appropriate, that he's feeling well enough ... and to address those issues we can address now and not let this occur in the future."

That won't be easy; Kill has experienced seizures of varying severity since at least 1992, he has told reporters in the past, and has told friends that doctors believe scar tissue on the brain -- perhaps a residue of his football playing career as an aggressive 165-pound linebacker -- might be the root cause.

"I have scar tissue that's built up on my brain," he told Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Ken Corbitt after being hospitalized for three days at Emporia State in 2000. "They described it like electricity going off in the breaker box that's causing my breaker to pop. That causes seizures."

So does the combination of stress, fatigue and especially dehydration -- basically a workaholic coach's lifestyle. Of Kill's six public seizure-related hospital stays, dehydration was a factor in at least four. Smith said the Minnesota medical staff felt badly that was the case Saturday.

"There was clinical evidence of dehydration upon his admission. Shame on us for that," Smith said. "I share that responsibility -- that won't happen again. We can easily manage that problem."

Like many with the affliction, Kill has experienced occasional smaller seizures, too; his collapse on the sidelines in the final seconds of a game at Southern Illinois in 2005 included a half-dozen "aftershocks," the coach said later. And his 2000 event was foreshadowed by minor flareups.

"Three weeks [earlier], I was at home and had a small seizure, I guess," Kill said at the time. "I don't remember it. Of course, I'm not going to go to the doctor and I let it go. I had a couple of little spells and I knew something wasn't quite right, but I just kept going. You have to in this profession."

Kill takes medication daily for his condition, and Smith said "we need to look at his [dosage] levels." But a friend of Kill's from a previous stop said Monday that his medication can be problematic during football season, because fatigue is a common side effect. Like many college coaches, Kill tends to work long days, sometimes 18 hours or more, and must balance the fatigue-inducing effects with his fatigue-inducing job.

Coaches frequently "push the envelope," Kill said at a Northern Illinois news conference last September after being released from a Chicago hospital, because "that's what we do. That's who we are.

"I will not change my coaching style. I never have, and haven't slowed down one inch. The day I don't do that, then I won't be [coaching]. But that won't happen, because I've been doing it too damn long and too damn good. I just want to coach football."

Athletic director Joel Maturi said when he announced Kill's hiring in December that he had investigated the coach's medical history and found the same thing -- that Kill and his staff both understand how to deal with his condition. The Gophers' film sessions and team meetings went on as normal Sunday, and coordinators Tracy Claeys and Matt Limegrover will make sure Tuesday's practice is routine.

"The reality of this disorder is that this is a common problem. People live normal lifestyles with this," Smith said. "There's medical management with current drugs that can make people live absolutely normal lives. We have to make sure we are providing that for him."

  • related content

  • Jerry Kill's medical scares

    Tuesday September 13, 2011

    JERRY KILL'S MEDICAL SCARESOct. 15, 2000: The day after Emporia State's 21-0 loss to Pittsburg State, Jerry Kill suffered a...

  • University of Minnesota team physician Dr. Pat Smith


    Up next: 2:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Miami (Ohio)

    TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Colorado 8:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent 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 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question