Sutula also said evidence shows that “sleep deprivation and irregular hours contribute to seizures becoming more frequent.” Those are common challenges for college football coaches. Still, as a past president of the American Epilepsy Society, Sutula is among those pulling for Kill.
“We’re encouraging people who have these [seizures] to go out and live a normal life,” Sutula said. “And he’s a productive guy, right? You don’t want to stop him from doing that.”
Kill has suffered other seizures at Minnesota, beyond the four that have kept him from parts of games. He spent time undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic in September 2011, after having a seizure the morning after a game, but he was back at practice the following Wednesday.
He had a seizure on the flight home from Northwestern in November 2011 and another one after last year’s Northwestern game.
‘A big step’
Teague declined to say whether Kill would be leaving his home for the next phase of his treatment.
“They’re trying new things all the time,” Teague said. “And in trying new things, you’re trying to come up with the right formula, and that’s what they’re in the middle of doing. It’s nothing radical, but it’s just a new approach because it’s a very complicated condition.”
Claeys, who has worked under Kill for 19 years, including the past three as the Gophers defensive coordinator, said it’s been tough over the years to get Kill to take a two-day vacation. So the news that Kill was ready to focus exclusively on beating epilepsy came as good news to the coaching staff, Claeys added.
“He has made the decision to try this before, and as he’s felt better, he’s put it off,” Claeys said. “So it’s a big step for him.
“I tell people all the time, he loves the University of Minnesota, loves the state of Minnesota. I mean, he’s had a great time here. And by him missing that game, finally, I just think he said, ‘Hey, I want to be here a long time. I need to look into this and do what’s required of me.’ ”
Kill will remain in close contact with the team, mostly via cellphone with Claeys. But asked whether Kill would still be doing things like breaking down film, Teague said, “I hope he will not do a lot of that. I think it’s time to stay really focused and zeroed in on his condition. So the more he does less of that, I think the better.”
Teague made it clear he won’t rush Kill to a decision about his long-term future, saying he’ll take it “day by day.” Teague also said, “Our support for coach Kill is unwavering.” University President Eric Kaler in a statement added, “I eagerly look forward to coach Kill’s return and wish him all the best.”