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Friday, December 17, 2010
Minnesota's Kill retains Hammock, O'Brien

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

My apologies for posting this late (I was under the weather Thursday), but new Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is retaining only two members from Tim Brewster's staff.

Thomas Hammock will remain with the Gophers as running backs coach, and director of football operations Dan O'Brien also will continue in his role. No word on whether O'Brien's Olympic gold medal will be retained as well. Whoops, wrong Dan O'Brien.

It's not a huge surprise that Kill didn't retain more assistants from Tim Brewster's staff. Kill has a core group of his own long-time aides. Several are already with him at Minnesota, and others, like current Northern Illinois quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski, likely soon will follow.

Hammock is a strong recruiter who has done a good job developing Minnesota's running backs. He also showed promise as a playcaller down the stretch this fall after Jeff Horton moved into the interim coach role.
"Whenever you take a new job as a head coach, you search for that special guy on the current staff,” Kill said in a statement. "There were some good coaches here. But Thomas Hammock is a great fit for us. On the recruiting trail, Thomas is known around the country as a relentless recruiter. You go to the national convention and you hear people talk about how hard he works in recruiting. Thomas is an intense guy. He works very hard. He’s just a good fit for us."

A lot of us were rooting for Horton to find a spot on Kill's staff, as he did a terrific job keeping Minnesota's team together after the midseason firing of Brewster. But you can't fault Kill for sticking with the guys he knows and trusts.
"Coach Horton did an outstanding job with the program," Kill said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He was tremendously helpful with the transition. There is no doubt there would have been a place for him on my staff, but I was able to bring in my offensive coordinator [Matt Limegrover] who has been with me for 13 years. I will still use coach Horton as a resource,” Kill added. “We’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone and I’m sure there will be a few steak dinners in our future. Jeff Horton made the University of Minnesota better."

Hopefully, Horton catches on somewhere soon. Good coach and good guy.