Hartman: Kill convinced they'll find cure for seizures

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2012 - 1:57 AM

The Gophers football coach is working with top medical professionals to overcome his condition.

There has been a lot of speculation about Gophers football coach Jerry Kill's problem with seizures, with some people believing his medical condition will hurt recruiting and his ability to field a winning program.

I am around Kill as much as anybody outside his family, football staff and players, and I am convinced Kill will overcome his problem in the near future and it will have no adverse effect on the football program. Kill is convinced he will be cured.

"I'm very fortunate," Kill said. "I'm working with somebody [medically], I'm not going to mention who it is until they feel comfortable that they want to be mentioned. And if they do I'll mention it, but I'm working with one of the best people in the world. We're convinced together that I can be seizure-free in a year."

Kill said he is being monitored on a daily basis, mostly to ensure his medication is properly balanced. He also knows his high-profile job makes people more aware of his condition, while the same disease goes unnoticed or unreported in many corporate leaders.

"It doesn't have to do with a certain pressure of this or pressure of that, it's just something you have to get a hold of and it's a very complicated disease," Kill said. "But also with that very complicated disease, there's a lot of powerful people that have the same disease I have. I'm not going to mention the CEOs and the vice presidents right here in our state who work every day that have the same situation. I just happen to be a football coach. ...

"Things happen in life. There's nobody that feels worse than me that [a seizure] has happened at the end of the game [in the 2011 home opener against New Mexico State] and at the half of a game [against Michigan State on Nov. 24 this year] that I missed. I was more down in the dumps than I've ever been in my life. I feel really bad about it. But it's an issue that I deal with."

Condition no secret

Kill said his condition was no secret at Northern Illinois, where he left a pretty good team. With all of the seniors recruited by Kill and his staff, the Huskies finished 12-1 and will face Florida State in a BCS game in the Orange Bowl.

"I've had the issues for nine years," Kill said. "I've moved along in the profession and it's probably my fault. I've spent my whole life giving everything I've got to the places I've worked, and instead of getting [myself] fixed and so forth, I kind of survived and advanced. I never wanted to take any time away from work or anything to get this situation solved."

Kill made it clear he was honest about his situation.

"When something happened in the New Mexico State game I could have said, 'I had a virus,'" he said. "And at halftime [against Michigan State] it was something else. I've been honest since the day I walked in the door at the University of Minnesota.

"I was the same honest guy at Northern Illinois and I have never lied about the situation. If I hurt the football program and hurt the football team, I think there's some people that feel that I have. If it's going that route, you know, I won't do that to the University of Minnesota or the state of Minnesota.

"But I'll tell you what, I've missed maybe three or two days of work or something like that. There's a lot of people that miss a lot more work than that. It just happened at a bad time and it's bad, but I told my guys that it can't happen ever again and there's some things we can do before games and different things so it won't happen. I have to have confidence in the guy I'm working with, I do. And we'll move forward."

Kill said what he's not going to do is worry about how he is perceived in dealing with his illness. He revealed the advice his dad gave him when dealing with skeptics: "I hear what you're saying and I'll trust what I do."

"I'm not going to say anything anymore and I'm just going to coach my tail end off and let that work out and speak for itself," Kill said. "And that's all I can do at the end of the day. It's something you have to deal with. ... I've had different things like this before, it just happens. But I certainly wouldn't do anything to hurt the University of Minnesota in any way whatsoever."

Jottings

• Sunday's Bears-Vikings game at Mall of America Field is a sellout. The Packers game on Dec. 30 also is expected to be a sellout.

• Former Badgers football coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl now that Bret Bielema has taken the Arkansas job. Paul Chryst, who played and coached at Wisconsin and is the University of Pittsburgh head coach, is reported to be Alvarez's first choice to replace Bielema, but Chryst supposedly has a $6 million buyout for his contract at Pittsburgh.

• Kill and Gophers director of football operations Dan O'Brien are in Houston today checking various facilities for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Gophers will play in the bowl on Dec. 28 against Texas Tech.

• Junior defensive tackle Roland Johnson and redshirt junior linebacker Brendan Beal will not play in the bowl game because both will have knee surgery. Sophomore wide receiver Marcus Jones, who has missed nine games because of a knee injury, is also most likely out. Sophomore tight end Drew Goodger, who started seven consecutive games but missed the final two of the regular season because of a dislocated shoulder, is also questionable to return. However, Kill is hopeful offensive linemen Tommy and Ed Olson will be able to completely heal from ankle injuries, along with redshirt sophomore Marek Lenkiewicz -- who has missed two games because of a leg injury. The Gophers also hope to get redshirt freshman center Jon Christenson back. He started five of six games in the middle of the season but missed the past two games because of a knee injury.

• Point guard Tyus Jones, one of the nation's top basketball recruits in the Class of 2014, got off to a great start for Apple Valley on Tuesday, scoring 33 points in a 98-82 victory against St. Louis Park.

• Brent Haskins, son of former Gophers basketball coach Clem Haskins, is now a pro personnel scout for the Phoenix Suns. He reports former Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley is starting for the Suns and averaging 11.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM 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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