Thursday, May 19, 2011
Gophers' Kill earning high marks so far
By Adam Rittenberg
Jerry Kill hasn't coached a game as Minnesota's coach, but he's recording victories in other ways.
Kill has made a strong effort to reach out to Minnesota fans and former players during his first few months on the job. It's no surprise that after attending Big Ten spring meetings Monday-Wednesday in Chicago, Kill spent Thursday making three speaking appearances around the state.
His decision to open spring practices resulted in increased media coverage and attention for the program.
"I knew he could coach," Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said. "I didn't realize what a rock star he was with the media and others. He's won people over, and I'm really excited that he's our football coach."
Kill wasn't Minnesota's first choice to replace Tim Brewster, and his hiring disappointed some Gophers fans hoping for a bigger name. But his efforts to unite a fan base disappointed with the program's direction aren't going unnoticed.
"The people have been great to me, they really have," Kill said. "We've reached out, from lettermen to the history of Minnesota football all the way back to coach [Murray] Warmath's era. We certainly have studied it."
Maturi notes that "long-term decisions are based on winning and losing," which is hardly a revelation for Kill. To help get Minnesota back on course, Kill has relied heavily on former players.
"It's kind of fitting with the Legends and the Leaders [divisions]," he said. "I've gone back to the legends to find out what we need to do better. Hopefully, we can build our program back to where it once was.
"I've had plenty of feedback. It's been inspiring and a good learning experience for me."