Jerry Kill: Continuity in Staff Allows Minnesota to Work Through Coach's Issues
Minnesota players left Minneapolis on Friday without their head coach, Jerry Kill, who wasn't feeling well enough to travel, but they expected their head coach on the sidelines on Saturday as they took on Michigan for the Little Brown Jug.
Except, we now know that he never got on that flight. Instead, he suffered another seizure on Saturday morning and is resting at home as a result. According to a release from the Golden Gophers, Kill was not hospitalized at all for the latest seizure.
Here is the full release from GopherSports.com:
Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill is at home in Minneapolis and will not be on the sideline for today's game against Michigan. Coach Kill was not feeling well on Friday morning and decided to meet the team in Ann Arbor on Saturday. He then suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and will remain at home in Minnesota for today's game.
Coach Kill has been in contact with his staff today and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as Minnesota's acting head coach from the press box.
For most programs and coaching staffs a situation like this would be a major upheaval to a normal game day and a really difficult thing to deal with for 85 young men.
Some have even taken to suggesting that Kill needs to resign "for the better good of the program."
Yet, while each situation is scary, the Gophers are lucky that they can say it will be business-as-usual each time, and that's because Kill has had one of the most loyal and long serving staff of coaches in the country.
That group of loyal coaches came to Kill's defense the last time this happened earlier this season, including the guy who will have head coaching duties on Saturday, Tracy Claeys (h/t Minneapolis Star-Tribune):
Being as good of friends as we are … if we thought it was going to cause something permanent … we’d tell him to get the heck out of the game. We’d all be fine. Heck, I’ll go back and serve bar in Clay Center, Kansas.
Claeys, who will take over today as head coach from the press box as part of his duties as defensive coordinator, has been on Kill's staff since 1995 when he was a defensive line coach. Since then, Claeys has moved with Kill at every stop along the way as his defensive coordinator.
Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover has been involved on Jerry Kill's staffs since 1999 himself, coming on board as the offensive line coach at Emporia State in 1999 and then being promoted to offensive coordinator/line coach when Kill took over at Southern Illinois.
They aren't the only two long-term assistants on the staff either, as at least six other coaches have been on staff with Kill dating back to either Northern Illinois or before.
While there's no doubt that these situations are never something to be taken lightly, the Gophers are about as well equipped to deal with this situation as any staff could be.
The loyalty of the staff to Coach Kill and the plan they immediately put in place allows players to not lose focus on what is in front of them.
Lesser staffs and lesser teams wouldn't respond as if it were "business-as-usual" yet, for the Gophers, don't expect them to miss a beat on the field with the Little Brown Jug on the line.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @andycoppens.
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