Former Minnesota football head coach Jerry Kill went on the SiriusXM show Big Ten Today (h/t Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com) on Tuesday and said new Golden Gophers leader P.J. Fleck is "about himself" in the midst of other comments regarding the current coach:
"Sometimes ego gets carried away," Kill said.
"When he went into Minnesota and treated the people the way he treated my guys, telling them he had to go in and completely change the culture and that it was a bad culture and bad people. He made it sound like we didn't know what we were doing. I took it personal. You just don't treat people who have helped your career, and you don't even talk to 'em once you get the job."
Per Rittenberg, Kill said he and Fleck have talked once since the latter man got the Minnesota job:
"It wasn't good. That's the last time, and it will be the last time," Kill said. "Do I still root for the Gophers? I do. Do I enjoy him running up and down the sidelines? No. Do I think he's about the players? No. He's about himself."
Kill coached at Minnesota from 2011 to 2015. His previous stop was at Northern Illinois from 2008 to 2010.
Fleck was an assistant on his staff in 2008 and 2009 and coached Western Michigan from 2013 to 2016. The Broncos went 1-11 in his first year before going 13-1 and making the Cotton Bowl in his final campaign. Fleck then took the job at Minnesota, where he's gone 12-13 (7-6 in 2018 with a bowl win).
Health issues forced Kill off the sidelines in 2015. He is currently the Southern Illinois athletic director.
But these particular comments are a notable outlier, as it's even rarer to see a notable sports figure be exceedingly blunt and descriptive in their negative assessment of another person. Seeing or hearing such comments isn't unprecedented, but the remarks were still eye-opening.
Reaction from various media personalities did not favor Kill. Jeff Wald of Fox 9 Sports said, "Like Fleck or not, being bitter is not a good look for Kill."
Myron Medcalf of ESPN also provided his remarks:
Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN
I’m a Jerry Kill fan. I was there the day he had his first seizure at a game. Minnesota fans supported him until the end, when his health interrupted his tenure. Today, he went after P.J. Fleck and made personal comments that were completely out of line. He owes Fleck an apology.
As did Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic:
Fleck and the Golden Gophers open their 2019 season against Division I-FCS South Dakota State on August 29.