Nearly five years ago, former Gophers football coach Jerry Kill, upset with how athletic director Mark Coyle fired Tracy Claeys, vowed in an interview with KSTP-AM 1500 that, "I won't be stepping a foot back in that stadium.''
That promise is going to be very difficult to keep now that Kill has been hired as New Mexico State's coach and the Aggies will play the Gophers on Sept. 1, 2022, at Huntington Bank Stadium.
New Mexico State officially announced Kill as their coach Monday. He replaces Doug Martin, who went 25-74, including 2-10 this year, in nine seasons in Las Cruces.
When asked late in his news conference if he was aware that his team's first road game is Sept. 1 at Minnesota, Kill responded:
"You don't think I haven't had a million text messages about that? I'll get booed out of the stadium, probably,'' said Kill, who retired from the Gophers job in 2015 because of health reasons, including epilepsy. "I don't know. It'll be interesting. I had several people let me know we're playing Minnesota. I did not know that when I took the job, but we'll go up there and get to go back in that stadium.''
Kill also has been critical of Gophers coach P.J. Fleck, who served as an assistant under Kill at Northern Illinois from 2008-09. Upon taking the Gophers job, Fleck said he needed to change the culture in the program, which upset Kill. "When he went into Minnesota and treated people the way he treated my guys and told them he had to go in and completely change the culture and it was a bad culture and bad people — he made it sound like we didn't know what we were doing, and I took it personal,'' Kill said in a SiriusXM interview in 2019.
The return to Minnesota will be Kill's second game as coach of the Aggies, who open the season at home Aug. 27 against Nevada. Coincidentally, Kill will be leading the program that handed him a 28-21 loss in his home debut as Gophers coach in 2011, a game in which he suffered a seizure on the sideline late in the fourth quarter.
"The last time New Mexico State was there, they won, so maybe that's an omen that we can follow into,'' Kill said.