Jerry Kill provided a sobering assessment of the Gophers football program Wednesday, saying it might take four recruiting classes "to really evaluate who we are and what we're doing," and that his staff is monitoring 63 of the team's players to make sure they're attending class.
Kill initially made the comments in a mid-day speech to the Dunkers -- a group of Twin Cities businessmen -- then expanded on his views after practice in what amounted to an impromptu state of the program address.
Kill, whose team is 1-5, including 0-2 in the Big Ten, said his comments to the Dunkers were meant to offer assurance that problems are being addressed. But he made it clear the team is facing some extremely serious problems, especially in academics.
"We have academic issues -- I don't want to get into all the negative stuff, but everyone knows the issues we have," Kill said. "All I did at the Dunkers is explain how we're solving them. If you have academic issues, then you have to make them accountable.
"There's probably part of the 63 that are getting B's, but I'm going to make damn sure they're getting B's. I've got no choice, because if we have much more of this we're going to be caught in that tornado and we're never going to come out of it, so we're going to take extra accountability. That's why we've got people going through the dorms. We have to."
The Gophersa are 1-5 and have been outscored 103-17 in their first two Big Ten games.
Kill said he wasn't blaming the players or former coaches, but rather the overall instability of almost everything associated with the program.
"These poor kids have never gotten close to anybody," he said. "They don't know who's going to come in next. They're probably waiting to see which three coaches are going to leave now. Who's going to leave in academics? Are two trainers going to leave? ... It's been a revolving door. We have to get stability. We can't let our good people get out of here."
Kill said his statement about needing four more recruiting classes doesn't mean the program is doomed for that period.
"I'd certainly like to think we'll have progress along those four years," he said.
And if they don't? "I'll fire myself,'' he said. But it's clear he feels the future will be challenging.
"I just know where our roster is," he said. "We're old, and we're young, and nothing in between that. So we're just going to keep getting younger. We got younger this year. Those kids have to grow up. ... We're not going to cheat, we're not going to grab steroid pills to get bigger and stronger. It's going to be a process.
"Who knows how long it will take them, because we've got everybody else in the Big Ten getting better as we talk. It's a competitive world out there."
There is one bit of immediate good news for the Gophers: They have a bye Saturday, providing a week to soothe their bruises, both physical and emotional.
"Sometimes you can think too much," senior defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey said. "Some guys get the mindset that you can't have fun when you're losing. But it's football. You can still go out and have fun, and that's what we're doing this week."