Patrick Reusse: Do it your way, Coach Kill, but don't expect U fans to like it

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2012 - 12:06 AM

A return to Masonesque success won't get the people here excited, but that's to be expected in a major market.


Jerry Kill has taken the heat from the media and the public for backing out of a series with North Carolina at the cost of $800,000, but the coach responded by saying, “There’s got to be a little bit of a trust factor in what we do.”

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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To Jerry Kill, from a Minnesota lifer:

Relax, Jer. We're going to get through this.

The overreaction from the fan base and a share of the Twin Cities sports media on the buyout of the North Carolina home-and-home series was topped only by your overreaction to the criticism.

I've heard a hunk of the digital recording of your 15-minute rant to beat reporters on Wednesday, including the challenge to the media (and presumably the public) to "rip away" -- that you were going to do things your way.

Trust me on this, Jer. You really haven't been "ripped," not in the historic sense for Gophers football coaches. Heck, the students hung an effigy of Murray Warmath outside of Territorial Hall, back in the day.

You're not in Emporia, Kan., anymore. Or Carbondale, Ill. Or DeKalb, Ill., where your Northern Illinois Huskies getting 10 paragraphs in the Chicago Tribune or the Sun-Times was considered monumental coverage.

This is the Twin Cities, where 3.3 million folks reside in the metro area, and where the Gophers are considered the fifth big-time sports entity.

You could make any move you wanted in past stops with impunity. OK, maybe a whippersnapper from the Emporia Gazette, or the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, or the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, might wonder why you didn't go for it on fourth-and-2 inside the 10 rather than kick a field goal, but things didn't get much stickier than that, I would guess.

There's a reason you're now making $1.2 million annually on a seven-year contract. There's pressure with this job. Part of that is the media -- traditional, new and even citizen media seeking to uncover every morsel of information about this program.

A Minnesota transfer now at New Mexico State puts on Twitter that he's excited about a chance to play his former team, the Gophers, next year, and within 24 hours the word is out that the U of M athletic department has agreed to pay $800,000 to cancel a two-game series against North Carolina.

All Hades breaks loose, and a coach who did anything he wanted in minor league stops in Emporia, Carbondale and DeKalb is blustering and challenging anyone with the temerity to question him.

Here's what someone should have tipped you off on, Jer: For a quarter-century or longer, we Minnesotans have heard about an athletic department hard up for dollars.

If you really want to agitate a boatload of hard-working Scandinavians, give them the impression that you've taken $800,000 and basically burned it in the middle of a parking lot.

A few folks think it looks cowardly to duck a middling ACC team, but that's not the real problem. It's the money. Even if you bribe a nobody to come here for another $800,000 and break even on the whole deal, it's still going to be about the money.

The idea of a fourth early-season patsy isn't a biggie. Glen Mason trained us to expect to see the Holy Spirit Home for Retired Nuns on the schedule.

Mase also got us used to playing in third-tier bowl games, and while a few hardcores might celebrate a berth in the Meineke Who Cares Bowl, the vast majority of Minnesota sports fans won't.

We have four big-league teams to occupy us, and if you keep going 4-0 against nobodies, and 2-6 or 3-5 in the Big Ten, and going to lousy bowls, we'll put your program on the same back burner the Gophers have occupied for most of the past 45 years.

Jer, you keep telling us you know how to build a program, but here's the deal: There's no assurance in offering up that résumé every five minutes, because building a program to MAC heights is miles easier than building one to above .500 vs. the Big Ten.

Maybe you'll turn out to be the second coming of Bo Schembechler, hired by Michigan from Miami (Ohio), and we'll be singing Hallelujahs in your honor on autumn Saturdays for years to come.

Or maybe not.

Whatever, Jer, relax. You have an $8 million contract to handle the bumps without getting yourself in a lather.

P.S.: Good move giving a shot to Phil Nelson today in Camp Randall. The Mankato kid is going to be a player.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. •

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