The University of Minnesota announced former Northern Illinois Coach Jerry Kill as their new head coach on Sunday.
Coach Kill has been very successful at the four college institutions he has been the head coach. Minnesota saw first-hand how well Coach Kill could prepare his team when Northern Illinois ran roughshod over the Gophers 34-23.
Many college football fans would be happy to hear that Coach Kill would be leading their troops next season even if he has been a Head Coach in the BCS division for only the past three years with a 23-16 record.
Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi, on hiring Kill, “We cast a wide net in this search, but the name we kept coming back to was Jerry Kill. Coach Kill has won at every level of coaching and has a history of rebuilding programs. I’m confident we have chosen the right man to lead the Golden Gopher program.”
The mood in the Twin Cities among Gopher fans however was not of elation but rather disbelief that Athletic Director had failed the program once again.
In a poll conducted by a local television sports program, Rosen Sports Sunday, 56% of the people who called in were unwilling to give Kill a chance as Minnesota’s coach.
Gopher fans were expecting Maturi to hire a coach with a higher profile than Kill.
Early on in the process, Maturi hinted that he intended to make a “Tubby Smith” type of hire.
Names prominently mentioned in the media during the search included Mark Richt of Georgia, Chris Petersen of Boise State, Randy Edsall of the University of Connecticut and Al Golden of Temple.
Could Minnesota really be willing to possibly buy out a contract and sign a well-known BCS coaching commodity?
A couple of weeks later the names of Brady Hoke of San Diego State, Troy Calhoun of Air Force and Dan Mullen of Mississippi State surfaced as possible coaches for Minnesota.
While these coaches did not have the cache of a Richt or Petersen, Gopher fans would likely be happy seeing Hoke, Calhoun or Mullen patrolling the sidelines on Saturday.
Almost immediately after Tim Brewster was relieved of his duties, the University reached out to Football Coaching legend and former Gopher star Tony Dungy to get his thoughts on who might be the right person to lead the Gophers.
Reportedly Dungy identified Miami of Ohio Coach Mike Haywood. Haywood had the right pedigree as he was a former graduate assistant at Minnesota and as a player he won a National Championship at Notre Dame.
If Maturi was going to hire Haywood, a diamond in the rough or a relatively unknown head coaching commodity, he would be smart enough to secure the informal blessing of the alumni community by having Dungy identify the candidate as someone with potential.
As the search process continued, many in the Gopher alumni community felt less hopeful that Maturi would be successful in bringing in a quality coach.
As the weeks passed, Gopher alumni made their feelings known on several blogs that they viewed the hiring of the next football coach as a referendum on Maturi.
Many Gopher alumni are still sour toward Maturi because of the manner in which Maturi hired former Minnesota Coach Tim Brewster.
Brewster had no college head coaching experience when he was hired by Minnesota. Brewster, among the media pundits, was a long shot candidate who was not on anyone’s radar in college football as head coaching material.
Maturi appeared to assure the Gopher faithful that his young coach could overcome his inexperience by surrounding himself with veteran coordinators and by out recruiting the competition.
The Brewster experiment was a complete failure.
Compounding the failure of the Brewster experiment was the fact that Gopher fans had recently opened up a beautiful brand new stadium only to see the losses pile up.
Maturi has also taken some lumps for how he has managed the Gopher Basketball program.
This past summer former Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Jimmy Williams won a million dollar judgment against the University of Minnesota.
Williams contended that Coach Tubby Smith offered him an assistant coaching position and that after Williams informed Oklahoma State that he was leaving for Minnesota, Maturi rescinded the job offer extended to Williams.
Minnesota argued that Williams had no reasonable expectation that a job offer had been extended because Williams would know that Smith could not extend any job offer without first getting approval of Maturi.
Williams introduced testimony from several prominent Division I coaches stating that the reasonable expectation in the basketball community would be that a power coach such as Smith would have carte blanche in hiring his assistants.
The jury ultimately rejected Minnesota’s argument and found in favor of Williams.
Observers and supporters of the program wondered aloud after the trial as to why would a top flight coach such as Smith would need to have his assistants approved by Maturi.
Later today, Kill will be formally announced as the next University of Minnesota Football Coach.
Minnesota Gopher fans will undoubtedly eventually rally around the new coach and wish him well as he takes on the task of turning the program around.
The proverbial elephant in the room however is whether Maturi is done as the Athletic Director of the University of Minnesota.
Many Gopher fans and supporters believe that Maturi botched the process and that Kill will not be able to immediately restore the football program to prominence.
If Kill gets off to a slow start next year, it will not be the end of his tenure at Minnesota; however it might be the end of Maturi as the Athletic Director as he is only under contract until 2012.
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