Kill returns, feisty as ever at practice

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2011 - 2:35 AM

The Gophers football coach, after four days at Mayo Clinic doing tests for seizures, dove back into his work.

It appears Mayo Clinic doctors have found more effective medication for the most recent series of seizures that started affecting Gophers football coach Jerry Kill at the end of the New Mexico State game on Sept. 10.

The seizures continued on a regular basis until he spent four days at Mayo Clinic, where they have a branch of doctors who rank with the best epilepsy experts in the world.

Kill was discharged Wednesday morning and was in his office working on the Michigan game plan at 12:30 p.m. in a coaches meeting.

Kill, still upset about the 37-24 loss to North Dakota State last Saturday, was not in the mood to receive any more suggestions about his health problems. This man has been a winner all his life and he isn't ready to have a team like North Dakota State turn the tables on him.

"I'm sick and tired of people telling me what to do," Kill told two members of the Gophers athletic department who tried to make a suggestion.

Then I caught a little bit of heck from a man who I have visited with almost every day he is in his office. "I am not talking to anybody right now," he told me.

Kill returned to his office at that point, and the next thing you knew he was in the middle of the practice field giving some players a piece of his mind.

The practice, which is usually open to the media for the first 20 minutes, was completely closed.

After that long practice, Kill met with the seniors and urged them to continue to fight and not give up. He spent more than 45 minutes with reporters and chose not to talk much about his physical problems.

Well, you just hope now that Kill can stay healthy, and if he does, it's going to be a plus for the football team. Sure, the assistants who have been with him forever are capable. But no doubt Kill has some magic that most coaches don't.

The future won't be easy. Minnesota has won only twice at Michigan since 1962, in 1986 and 2005. The Wolverines' overall record against the Gophers is 70-24-3.

And the Gophers are facing a coach in Brady Hoke who, when he was at San Diego State, was one of the first coaches interviewed for the Gophers job before Kill was hired.

Wolves future is better

Before Rick Adelman was hired as the new Timberwolves coach, it was tough to believe that top free agents would have any interest in playing for a franchise that had no chance to be a winner.

Now with someone like Adelman, who boasts one of the best coaching records in NBA history, it's going to change the entire story, according to Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.

"His style of play offensively and his track record, those two things in particular will give people a lot of comfort about the program we're building here," Kahn said.

"We talked to a lot of retired players who have played for him back in Portland and Sacramento. It's amazing how many players say he was the best they ever played for. In other words, the one coach they most enjoyed playing for. He just has a way about putting players in the right spots and gives them a lot of confidence, and players really respond to that."

Kahn said he didn't talk to Adelman about the job until he had interviewed seven difference coaches, some of them twice. He didn't talk to Adelman until July.

"I think that whenever you're in a tough situation, like we were last season, you have to always be thinking about if we were to make a change, what would we do?" Kahn said. "Early in the process, as soon as [Adelman] left Houston, I thought to myself that if we did indeed make a change, he would be near or at the top of the list.

"We weren't in any hurry to hire a coach. So we waited and talked and finally Adelman said yes."

Kahn has taken a lot of criticism from the media, including some from me, but he hit the jackpot in hiring Adelman.

Jottings

Kenny Onatolu, the Vikings linebacker and special-teams player who was called for a personal foul because of a late hit with 11 seconds left in the Lions game on Sunday and eliminated a chance for a quick pass and a field goal to win the game, said after viewing the film of the game that the official made the right call.

Even though the Lions edged the Vikings 26-23 in overtime, the Vikings posted five sacks against them after the Lions had not allowed a sack in their first two victories. ... You have to give the Vikings defense some credit against the Lions running game, holding them to 20 yards on 19 carries. But the Vikings defense against the pass in the second half was a different story.

The Gophers might have to go into Michigan on Saturday with their best offensive player, quarterback MarQueis Gray, and defensive back and super kick return Troy Stoudermire injured and not abl to play.

Two members of the Gophers football coaching staff were part of the last two Minnesota victories at Ann Arbor. Linebacker coach Bill Miller was defensive backs coach on the staff of John Gutekunst that beat Michigan in 1986, when Rickey Foggie made a long run with seconds left to set up a winning field goal by Chip Lohmiller. Michael Sherels, now a special assistant under Kill, was a linebacker in 2005 when running back Gary Russell made a 61-yard run as the clock was running out to set up another field goal kicked by Jason Giannini in a 23-20 victory.

Good news for Connor Cosgrove, a member of the Gophers football team who was hit with leukemia. He's a full-time student now and was on the Gophers sideline last Saturday.

Trevor Yedoni of Benilde-St. Margaret's, who won the Class 2A high jump last June with a jump of 6 feet, 10 inches and also won the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, has signed a tender to attend Minnesota. Also signing with the Gophers is Luke Johnson of Red Wing, who won the Class 2A discus with a throw of 175-2 and took second in the shot put at 59-4¼.

Former Breck standout Bryce McNeal announced this week that he is done playing football for Clemson. The sophomore wide receiver will stay in school and plans to graduate next summer and then play for a new college in 2012. McNeal had one reception for 8 yards through three games this season. During his redshirt freshman year, he caught 19 passes for 187 yards.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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