Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Jerry Kill beat the Gophers, and now he'll join them.
Kill, coach of Northern Illinois for three seasons, has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Minnesota, the Star Tribune has learned, and will be introduced at a press conference Monday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Kill led the Huskies to a 34-23 victory over Minnesota on Sept. 25, en route to a 10-3 season that landed in the AP Top 25 for one week, until Friday's 26-21 loss to Miami of Ohio in the MAC Championship game.
Kill has a 23-16 record at NIU, and led the Huskies to bowl games all three seasons, including the Humanitarian Bowl later this month. Before being hired at the DeKalb, Ill., school, the 49-year-old Kansan was a head coach at Southern Illinois (55-32 in seven seasons), Emporia State (11-11 in two seasons) and Saginaw Valley State (38-14 in five seasons).
The hire comes on the seven-week anniversary of the firing of Gophers coach Tim Brewster, who was dismissed Oct. 17 after the Gophers lost six straight games to fall to 1-6. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton finished the season, winning the final two games against Illinois and Iowa to go 2-3 and help Minnesota finish the year at 3-9.
Athletic director Joel Maturi has been actively seeking a new coach since that day, and reportedly interviewed several candidates, including San Diego State's Brady Hoke. But while Hoke, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, Temple's Al Golden, Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Connecticut's Randy Edsall were rumored to be candidates for the job, Maturi's choice ended up being Kill.
Maturi had promised to hire someone with head-coaching experience and a history of building a winner, and Kill fits that profile. The Huskies' coach has also had some health issues, including being hospitalized two weeks before the game at Minnesota while having his gall bladder removed. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2005, but the disease has been in remission.
Kill originally signed a five-year contract at NIU in 2007 that paid him $300,000 annually, and he received a raise to roughly $381,000 15 months ago, when he signed an extension that lasts through 2015. Contract details at Minnesota are not known, but Brewster earned roughly $1 million annually, and is still owed $600,000 to buy out the final three seasons of his contract.
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