U's football progress isn't lost on rivals in Big Ten

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2012 - 12:24 PM

Jerry Kill is taking baby steps in retooling the Gophers, but league coaches say he's doing it right.


Gopher Head Football Coach Jerry Kill

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHICAGO - Kirk Ferentz was in his first season as Iowa's offensive line coach under Hall of Famer Hayden Fry back in 1981, when he first experienced the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry.

"They knocked us off at our place," Ferentz recalled of the Gophers' 12-10 victory. "The next year, we beat them up there [in Minneapolis, 21-16]. They were both knock-down, drag-out games, very physical. I would suggest the rivalry was even more bitter and probably unhealthy, quite frankly, back in the '80s. There were a lot of bad jokes going back and forth."

But that's better than the games themselves becoming jokes, which has happened occasionally. That's why Iowa's longtime coach -- with the departure of Joe Paterno, Ferentz is now the dean of Big Ten coaches, having succeeded Fry in 1999 -- is pleased, if a little wary, about Jerry Kill's presence at one of the Hawkeyes' biggest rivals.

One year after Kill was hired to resurrect a Gophers team that had lost eight of the past 10 games against Iowa before he arrived, and despite a difficult 3-9 debut season, Ferentz and his fellow Big Ten coaches say they have been impressed with their Minnesota brethren.

Sure, part of it was undoubtedly preseason happy talk; stroking your opponents is as hoary a college football ritual as tearing down the goalposts. Still, several coaches said they admire the way Kill has attacked the challenge of reversing a program in decline.

"He believes it can be done the right way. No shortcuts. That's what I've seen so far, and that's why I think he'll be successful," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "A lot of teams try to hire a quick-fix artist, but no program can be competitive over the long haul without a strong foundation. And building that takes time. [Kill] understands that, and [Minnesota] understands that."

They do, given that the state has endured six consecutive seasons of three wins or worse in the Big Ten. The Gophers haven't beaten one of the traditional powers in the conference -- Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska or Wisconsin -- since 2005. But those teams' coaches claim to be aware of changes coming in Minnesota.

"The job of a coach is to make his players play as well as they possibly can," said Michigan's Brady Hoke, who introduced Kill to the Big Ten with a 58-0 thrashing in the conference opener in Ann Arbor last fall. "They've got a staff in place there that knows how to do that. They have some challenges, but I don't doubt you'll see progress."

That staff is part of the reason Ferentz foresees the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry getting hot again. The Hawkeyes coach last winter had to replace the only coordinators he had ever worked with in his 13 years at Iowa when Norm Parker retired and Ken O'Keefe accepted an NFL job. That's similar to Kill's coordinators, Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys, who have assisted the Gophers coach for 13 and 17 years, respectively.

"That staff has been with Jerry a long time, and it gives him continuity that maybe they didn't have there before," Ferentz said. "It's so important for the players to know how things are done, and what they can expect."

What the Badgers expect are more competitive games for Paul Bunyan's Axe.

"I said when they hired him, I'm glad he's not in our division, because I know how effective and competitive [Kill] can be," said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who is 6-0 against Minnesota since taking over the Badgers in 2006. "I look forward to [meeting the Gophers], but I know we had better be ready for a battle, or else."

Yeah, just ask Ferentz about that. The Hawkeyes were 5-2 when they visited TCF Bank Stadium in October, and harboring hopes of a Legends Division title. They left with a 22-21 loss -- Kill's first victory in the Big Ten and the second consecutive year that the Gophers had marched that bronze pig around the field.

"To their credit, they beat us straight-up both times," Ferentz said. "Neither one was a fluke -- they beat us fair and square. ... Jerry Kill is a tremendous coach."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco 0 Top 4th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
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
Washington 1 3rd Prd 13:42
Buffalo 5
Carolina 2 3rd Prd 12:22
Columbus 4
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd :59
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 5:35
Chicago 0
Arizona 8:00 PM
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