Jerry Kill, who retired as Gophers football coach in 2015 because of his battle with epilepsy, retired as offensive coordinator at Rutgers on Tuesday because of health reasons.
“I gave everything I had to the game,’’ Kill, 56, said in a statement. “I just ran out of juice.”
Kill coached the Gophers from 2011 through the first seven games of the 2015 season, compiling a 29-29 record and leading Minnesota to three bowl games. Minnesota’s appearance in the Citrus Bowl following the 2014 season was its first Jan. 1 bowl game since the Rose Bowl following the 1961 season. Kill was named Big Ten coach of the year in 2014.
He battled epilepsy throughout his career with the Gophers, starting with his first home game in 2011 during which he had a seizure. He took a leave of leave of absence in 2013 and experienced better health in 2014, but in 2015 the seizures returned, and he decided to retire.
“I hope that through my 34 years of coaching that I was able to be a positive influence on young people because that is truly why I coach,’’ Kill said in the statement. “I want to thank all the players for what they have done for me. I appreciate and love all of the people that are part of my family. I don’t have any regrets and I’ve had a blessed career. I love this game and all the coaches that I’ve worked with. They have all made Jerry Kill a better man. I know that I did it the right way and I did it my way.’’
A Kansas native, Kill spent the 2016 season with Kansas State as an associate athletic director, with responsibilities as chief administrator for football under coach Bill Snyder.
Kill didn’t stay away from coaching long, however, joining Rutgers coach Chris Ash’s staff as offensive coordinator last December. But the health problems didn’t go away, and Kill suffered a seizure on Sept. 10 after inadvertently being hit on the sideline during the Scarlet Knights’ game against Eastern Michigan the day before.
“I want to thank Chris Ash and [athletic director] Pat Hobbs for giving me the opportunity to coach at Rutgers. I would also like to thank the players, the Rutgers family, fans and media for everything they have done for Rebecca and me,’’ Kill added in the statement. “This program is definitely headed in the right direction with Coach Ash and I know that firsthand. I enjoyed the year being an assistant coach and had a ton of fun with the players and coaches.’’
Rutgers ranked last in the Big Ten in total offense, but the Scarlet Knights improved as the season progressed, and they ended a 16-game Big Ten losing streak with a victory at Illinois. Wins over Purdue and Maryland followed, and Rutgers finished 4-8 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten.
Kill is 152-99 as a head coach at five schools: Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Emporia State (1999-2000), Southern Illinois (2001-07), Northern Illinois (2008-10) and the Gophers. He overcame kidney cancer at Southern Illinois in 2005.
With his departure, the Scarlet Knights will be looking for their ninth offensive coordinator in nine seasons.
“Jerry had a great impact on our coaching staff and was a tremendous influence on all of our players,’’ Ash said in a statement. “I wish Jerry and his wife the best and they will always be part of our Rutgers family.”