Reusse: Rebuild with Kill to stay at slow pace

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 6:45 AM

Jerry Kill’s teams have followed Glen Mason’s blueprint the first two seasons. In Year 3, Mason’s Gophers went 8-4. Don’t expect a repeat.

hide

Jerry Kill is trying to keep expectations low for the Gophers in his third season as their football coach. He could be right.

Lou Holtz left the Gophers hanging when he departed a few days after the conclusion of the 1985 regular season. You couldn’t blame the little fellow for this decision after coaching 22 games here, since the school making the call was Notre Dame.

There have been five head coaches at Minnesota in the 28 years since Holtz.

John Gutekunst (1986-91) hung in there for a while but wound up overmatched. Jim Wacker (1992-96) had disastrous results. Tim Brewster (2007-2010) was a full-blown disaster before being replaced by interim Jeff Horton with five games left in 2010.

Glen Mason was hired on Dec. 14, 1996, to rally the Gophers from disaster No. 1. Jerry Kill was hired on Dec. 6, 2010, to rally the Gophers from disaster No. 2.

Mason was 46 when hired. Kill was 49 when hired. Both had résumés that indicated they were prepared for the huge task of running a Big Ten football program.

The approach taken — to undersell expectations, rather than super-sell as did Wacker and (especially) Brewster — by Mason and Kill was similar. And after two seasons, the rebuilding path has been close to identical.

Mason’s Gophers were 1-7 in the Big Ten and 3-9 overall in 1997. The conference victory was at home vs. Indiana and there was a 22-21 loss to Wisconsin (the first of the heartbreakers that would mark Mason’s so-close decade).

Mason’s Gophers were 2-6 in the Big Ten and 5-6 overall in 1998. They were missing a fourth nonconference game to make them bowl eligible.

Kill’s Gophers were 2-6 in the Big Ten and 3-9 overall in 2011. They were 2-6 in the Big Ten, with four nonconference victories (including one over Syracuse) in 2012. That put them at 6-6 and in a bowl-game loss to Texas Tech.

Mason: first two seasons, 3-13 in Big Ten, 8-15 overall. Kill: first two seasons, 4-12 in Big Ten, 9-16 overall.

Year 3 is moving time for a major college football team, just as Round 3 is moving time in a major golf tournament.

The Gophers did that in 1999 for Mason. Minnesota went 5-3 in the Big Ten and 8-3 in the regular season. The Gophers closed with a three-game winning streak that included a road upset against No. 2-rated Penn State.

The Gophers lost 24-20 in the Sun Bowl to Oregon and Joey Harrington, the Ducks’ sophomore quarterback. They finished Mason’s third season rated No. 20 by the Associated Press.

How did Mason’s program manage such a significant turnaround in Year 3?

Gordy Shaw was among two assistants retained by Mason from Wacker’s staff. The other was Kevin Sumlin, who now has the privilege and anguish of being quarterback Johnny Manziel’s head coach at Texas A&M.

“My personal opinion is that Coach Mason, talent-wise, inherited a much-different situation than what Wacker inherited,’’ Shaw said. “I’ve believed that if Jim wasn’t forced to fire his defensive coaches, we would’ve squeezed into a bowl game in 1996. But he got orders from above to fire his defensive staff, and everything went to hell.’’

Shaw is now the offensive line coach at Texas State. He became very effective in that role for the Gophers, and in recruiting players from Minnesota and the Midwest.

But 1999, Year 3 for Mason … Shaw said one factor that must be mentioned was the play of senior quarterback Billy Cockerham, a Wacker holdover.

“A lot of people didn’t think Billy Cockerham was the guy, but he was,’’ Shaw said. “He was a true leader with a group of kids that got sick and tired of losing, who wanted to show they could compete in the Big Ten.’’

Entering his Year 3, Kill continues to play down expectations, suggesting it’s more like Year 2 because of a lost recruiting class in 2011. Interesting spin, since Mason started later than Kill and had the turnaround in Year 3.

Can we apply that standard for Kill in 2013?

“Coach Mason and Coach Kill are very similar … discipline, no B.S., trying to get back to recruiting Midwest kids,’’ Shaw said. “I will say this: I think what Jerry inherited at Minnesota might be more along the lines of what Jim Wacker had to work with at the start than what Coach Mason inherited.’’

Interpretation: The Gophers duplicating that final No. 20 rating might be a reach in expectations for Kill’s third season.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Memphis 6:00 PM
Indiana
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Portland 9:00 PM
Sacramento
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Phoenix
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Columbus
Los Angeles 6:30 PM
Detroit
Anaheim 7:30 PM
Dallas
Nashville 8:00 PM
Calgary
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 am
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close