Gophers coach Jerry Kill wanted football questions Friday after the season’s first practice, but reporters were mostly focused on the sudden resignation of athletic director Norwood Teague.
Kill said he “feels bad for everybody in the situation” and stressed that he doesn’t think the news will delay the school’s athletics facilities project.
After answering several more questions about Teague’s resignation, Kill said: “We’re practicing. Do you think I want to talk about this? I want to talk about practice. So it’s a distraction. All of it is a distraction.
“And I hope everybody that’s involved in the thing, everything goes OK and everybody’s all right, and we move on as a university.”
Several football boosters at Friday’s practice sounded ready to move on from Teague.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to get an athletics director here who better understands athletics and fundraising that are so critical to bring Minnesota’s program up to the standards they should be,” said Herb Lanese, a booster from northern Virginia.
Lanese is among the participants in the Gophers’ second annual Boys of Fall Elite Camp, which grants behind-the-scene access to the team this weekend for $2,000.
The campers watched as Kill roamed the field, setting the tone for the new season. At one point, Kill could be heard yelling, “Hustle men, hustle! You go slow today, it’ll be the last time.”
“That’s probably one of our faster practices we’ve had, and probably the most hustle that we’ve had,” Kill said. “And probably the most vocal I’ve been in a while.”
He added, “You’ve got to be detail-oriented from the very start, and you have to be tough from the very start. And then once you get into it, things sort out. It’s a little bit different.”
Quarterback Mitch Leidner looked confident running the first-team offense, but Briean Boddy-Calhoun picked off one of his passes in seven-on-seven drills. Then, when it was 11-on-11, Leidner tried hitting tight end Duke Anyanwu up the seam, and middle linebacker Cody Poock made the interception.
Three Gophers coming back from injuries — Jon Christenson (leg), Scott Ekpe (knee) and Nick Rallis (knee) — all were at full speed. Christenson played left guard with the first-team offense, with Brian Bobek at center. Ekpe was a first-string defensive tackle, and Rallis was with the reserve linebackers.
In an expected wrinkle, backup quarterback Chris Streveler ran some routes as a receiver, with Leidner hitting him with some 5-yard sideline routes. Overall, Kill was pleased.
“We’re long and bigger and faster,” he said. “And we’ve got a lot to learn.”
The Gophers didn’t make players available to talk to the media after practice, with the Teague news still fresh. Kill said he’d learned the news about Teague from university President Eric Kaler.
“Certainly not a good situation, but I’ve talked to President Kaler, and I trust him 100 percent,” Kill said.
In that first answer on Teague, Kill’s thoughts immediately turned to the athletics facilities project, which would upgrade the 30-year-old football complex. Last week, Kill said he expects ground to be broken in late September or early October.
“We’re going to get that thing started, and we’re going to get that done,” Kill said. “Nothing’s going to stop. You put [Teague’s resignation] behind you, get it all over today and let’s go to work tomorrow and move on. That’s the way I look at it.”
Kill was hired in 2010 by Teague’s predecessor, Joel Maturi. Asked if the news of Teague’s resignation could hurt the Gophers in recruiting, Kill said, “It’s not good, but we’ll get in there, and I think the recruits trust Coach Kill.”