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.

Posts about Gopher coaches

Mike Sherels officially promoted to Gophers linebacker coach

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: March 7, 2014 - 1:46 PM

Mike Sherels has officially been promoted to Gophers linebacker coach. The team made it official Friday with a press release touting Sherels' rise from walk-on player to two-time captain to graduate assistant and now full-time coach.

Sherels replaces Bill Miller, who left to become the linebackers coach at Florida State.

"I am very happy for Mike,” Coach Jerry Kill said in the press release. "He has been with us for the last three years and knows and understands what we are trying to do here. He is a former two-time Gopher captain and truly loves Minnesota. This really is a dream come true for him.

“Mike is a terrific on-field coach and is a relatable presence to today's players. I cannot wait to see him recruit, as nobody can tell our story better than him. I expect his transition to be a smooth one and am excited to see him embrace his new role."

A Rochester native, Sherels made 30 starts at linebacker for the Gophers between 2003 and 2007, recording 219 tackles.

“I am extremely thankful to Coach Kill and the rest of the staff for having the belief in me to handle this job,” Sherels said in the press release. "It is a dream come true to coach at my alma mater and to represent my home state.”

Note: The Gophers will hold their third spring practice on Saturday at 11:20 a.m. They were originally scheduled to practice Sunday, as well, but they announced today that they have moved that practice to a later date, to be determined.

Gophers plan to promote Sherels to linebackers coach

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: March 3, 2014 - 3:21 PM

Former Gophers linebacker Mike Sherels already received one promotion this offseason. Now he’s about to be promoted again.

There were indications Monday that the Gophers plan to tab Sherels as the linebackers coach. The news was first reported by ESPN1500.

The Gophers were still finalizing the hire after opening a search to replace Bill Miller, who left to become the linebackers coach at Florida State.

Sherels played linebacker for the Gophers from 2004 to 2007, recording 219 tackles. The Rochester native is the only walk-on ever to be named a two-time captain.

He has worked for the Gophers since 2011 and spent last season as a defensive graduate assistant before being promoted to an assistant recruiting coordinator.

Kill praises Kaler's commitment to football

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: February 24, 2014 - 1:38 PM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill raved about University president Eric Kaler's commitment to football at a press conference Monday, in the coach's first extended comments about a new contract that will pay him an average of $2.3 million through 2018.

"I’m not going to turn the program around by myself," Kill said. "It all comes with the people of the state, and the most important person in that whole thing, is [University president Eric Kaler]. ... I can guarantee you, he doesn’t want to be middle-of-the-road on anything."

Kill, who made $1.2 million under his previous deal, has tried hard to keep the money in perspective.

"I’m the same guy who lived in a trailer house, I believe for five years, and made $250 a month," Kill said about his early coaching days. "And I was very appreciative then, very appreciative. And if I had to go back to doing that, I’d be alright."

Kill said his brother called to heckle him about his new deal, saying "'You ain't worth that. I’m sitting here working on beef cattle, and they’re paying you that to coach football. Is this country crazy?"

"I just chuckled and said, 'Hey, I can’t answer that question. They may be.'"

Kill said he wouldn't have signed his new contract without the provision that guarantees his assistant coaches' salary pool will rank in the Top 6 of the Big Ten.

"And the president understood that," Kill said. "So did [Athletics Director Norwood Teague]. That’s more important to me because we all work together. I think the administration realized that, and we’ve got good coaches.

"Again that credit goes to the people a the top. Everybody questions, but president Kaler -- he wants to win. I don’t think there’s any question about it."

Gophers linebackers coach Miller leaving for Florida State

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: February 24, 2014 - 12:38 PM

Gophers linebackers coach Bill Miller is leaving to become the linebackers coach at Florida State, according to CoachingSearch.com.

Update: Gophers coach Jerry Kill confirmed that Miller is heading to Florida State.

Miller, whose title with the Gophers also included assistant head coach, has been a well-respected member of the staff with 36 years of experience. He had a previous stint with the Gophers, coaching the defensive backs from 1986 to 1988. He went on to become defensive coordinator at Miami, where he coached Ray Lewis.

Miller returned to Minnesota when Coach Jerry Kill took over in 2011.

Gophers restructure Kill's deal, raise his salary to $2.1 million

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: February 22, 2014 - 5:47 PM

Jerry Kill got his long his long-expected raise Saturday.

The University announced that Kill's contract has been restructured through 2018-19. He'll make $2.1 million next year, up from $1.2 million last year, which was the lowest salary among Big Ten coaches.

“Coach Kill is proving his model works here at the University of Minnesota,” Athletics Director Norwood Teague said in the press release. “It is right to support him as he builds a program that will make the state of Minnesota proud.”

The Gophers have gone 3-9, 6-7 and 8-5 in Kill's first three seasons, and Kill has turned around the team in the classroom, too.

“Jerry Kill is the right coach for the University of Minnesota,” University President Eric Kaler said in the press release. "He has clearly moved our program forward and I am pleased we have come to this agreement to secure his long-term leadership of Gopher football.”

Kill thanked Kaler and Teague for their support in his statement.

The coach added, "I am extremely proud of what our players and coaches accomplished on and off the field last season. We still have a lot of work to do, but are moving the program in the right direction. I look forward to continuing to build a program that positively represents the great people of Minnesota and am excited to work with our players again when we start spring practice in early March.”

Update: Kill's new contract will increase his salary by $100,000 each year. So he'll make $2.1 million, $2.2 million, $2.3 million, $2.4 million and $2.5 million over the next five years.

The contract also has language that guarantees that the Gophers assistant coaches' salary pool will rank in the Top 6 of the Big Ten.

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