Using Simple Math, Minnesota Adds Two
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 26, 2011
You can look before you leap, but there’s no way to truly know what sort of situation you’ve walked into until there are boots on the ground. Jerry Kill knew that Minnesota was in trouble, thanks to Tim Brewster’s woeful mishandling of the program over his four-year watch, but Kill severely underestimated just how difficult it would be to take the Golden Gophers back into Big Ten contention. So when it became time to finally put his signature on his contract with the university, which had sat languishing in the details since he was hired 10 months ago, Kill and Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi opted to make a significant change in the bottom line.
It wasn’t about the money; it was about the duration of the contract, which was initially planned to run for five years but will now run for seven. That’s quite a significant change: an increase in length of 40 percent off the original plan, which might seem strange for a coach off to a 1-6 start in his debut campaign.
The timing is strange — but only to a point. The strangest fact is that Kill and Minnesota had not been able finalize their December agreement over the last 10 months, a period where, for all intents and purposes, Kill was working without a finalized contract. Well, maybe that’s the second-strangest fact. Or the third-strangest.
Minnesota added two more years to Kill’s contract despite Minnesota’s error-filled start. The Golden Gophers, as noted, are 1-6: the six losses include setbacks to New Mexico State and North Dakota State in September, which is not a good way to make an impression.
The tide hasn’t turned in October. Minnesota is off to an 0-3 start in Big Ten play, losing each game by at least 27 points and, against Nebraska last Saturday, avoiding further embarrassment only after the Cornhuskers took their foot off the gas — Nebraska got out of the car, in fact — over the final 30 minutes.
So in that sense, given how Minnesota has opened the season by falling flat right out of the gate, the timing of Kill’s new contract is strange. It’s also strange based on medical reasons: Kill, if you remember, has suffered two seizure-related medical episodes since the beginning of the year.
One, suffered in the waning minutes of the loss to New Mexico State, saw Kill led off the field in a cart by on-site medical personnel. He suffered another seizure in September, though it’s important to consider that Kill has yet to miss a game despite his stints under medical supervision.
Minnesota’s sour start and Kill’s own health issues might have led the university to take the opposite approach, perhaps maintaining the contract’s original five-year length but reworking the wording to protect its investment: giving Kill a threshold for wins, for example, or putting in paragraphs allowing the university to get out of any deal should Kill’s seizures sideline him for an extended period of time. Instead, the Golden Gophers went all in.
And it’s not just the right move, meaning the move that won’t be criticized; the university would have been slammed for trying to get out of its agreement for Kill, for example. It’s the right move because it sends a clear message to the program, its coach and the fan base — one that says that despite the slow start and other concerns, Kill remains the right man for the job.
Good move. Kill is a builder, not a maintainer, which made — and makes — him the best fit for Minnesota in its current incarnation. The Golden Gophers need to be torn down, reconstructed with concrete foundations and then rebuilt, and Kill has shown a propensity for taking the woebegone and making them into conference powers.
In other words, the slow start shouldn’t make Minnesota queasy. What it should do is underline just how much work there is to be done in making the Golden Gophers into a consistent bowl team, which was the primary motivator behind the university’s decision to add another two years to Kill’s contract. Wisely, Minnesota decided that 1-6 and the health issues did little to alter its perception back in December, when it first hired Kill as the cure for what ails the program.
You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.
Tags: Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Leave a Comment