Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sees a lot of himself in Gophers football coach Jerry Kill, who retired today. Both are old school guys who worked their way up the ladder in an industry that requires long hours and thick skins.
“It’s disappointing to have another great coach that you respect and the things he’s done to retire, but in the same token, I’m glad that he had the fortitude to be able to do it when he’s ready to do it or needed to do it,” Zimmer said during his news conference at Winter Park. “We’re all going to miss him in the Twin Cities and I’m sure all the UM faithful will miss him as well. He’s an awful good football coach.”
Zimmer talked about the demands on a coach, stresses that keep enjoyment somewhat limited.
“I can’t speak for Jerry specifically,” Zimmer said, “but for me it’s … upstairs a player comes in every day and talks to you, and you’re trying to figure out the best way to help the football team win and all that, and somebody says to you, ‘Well, it’s game week, let’s have fun.’ I say, ‘Fun?’ This is always a grind. … You put every heart and soul every minute that you have into one week and trying to win a football game. That starts specifically in July for us, but there’s not a day goes by that you don’t think about how can we get this better, what can you do, even though when you try … there’s still football being talked about. It’s a tough, tough profession, especially with the people that they want you to win so bad. … I probably shouldn’t say any of this stuff … [but] I’ve always said everybody knows how to do a coach’s job, I can’t go in and tell them how to operate, but everyone knows how to do a coach’s job.”
Zimmer, 59, worked through the college and pro system before finally getting a chance as head coach with the Vikings in January of 2014, and bonded with Kill shortly after that.
“Never met him until I got here, but I know his background and track record and things he did at Northern Illinois,” Zimmer said. “His personality as well, he’s a little bit like me I guess, the steps he had to take where he is right now. I’m sure it’s hard for him to make that decision because the University of Minnesota was a dream for him, and he’s got it going the right way.”
Other quick news from Zimmer:
He said cornerback Jabari Price went on the injured reserve list because his shoulder injury required surgery.
On linebacker Brandon Watts’ elevation from the practice squad: “We needed some help at linebacker, he’s done a good job on the show teams and the special teams stuff, and we have a lot of hope for him.”