University of Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill resigned his position on Oct. 28, 2015, due to health reasons. Kill is stepping away from college football with a career record of 156-102 and a 29-29 mark at Minnesota.
Kill was named Minnesota’s head coach on Dec. 7, 2010, and took the Gophers to heights not seen in recent years. Last season, Kill led Minnesota to a January 1 bowl game for the first time since 1962 and coached the Gophers to wins against Michigan and Iowa, which had previously not happened in the same season since 1967. Under Kill’s direction, Minnesota also erased a 14-point halftime deficit at Nebraska to beat the ranked Huskers on the road for the first time since 1960. Minnesota won eight games in both 2013 and 2014, which marked only the fifth time since 1906 that Minnesota won eight games in consecutive seasons.
The Gophers were 3-9 in Kill’s first season in 2011, but reached a bowl game and finished 6-7 in 2012. As custom with Kill and his staff, the third year at a school usually turns into a memorable season and 2013 was no different at Minnesota as the Gophers finished the season with an 8-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Kill was a combined 9-26 in his first year at Minnesota and at his previous two schools Northern Illinois (NIU) and Southern Illinois (SIU). In his third year, the schools produced a combined record of 28-9.
The success from 2013 carried over into 2014, as Kill’s Gophers finished 8-5 overall, but were 5-3 in the Big Ten. Kill guided Minnesota to its first back-to-back eight-win seasons since 2002 (eight wins) and 2003 (10 wins). Since 1906, Minnesota has won eight games in consecutive seasons only five times. The 2013 and 2014 seasons were Minnesota’s first consecutive four-win conference seasons since 1999 (5-3) and 2000 (4-4).
In 2014, Kill coached the Gophers to resounding wins against rivals Michigan (30-14) and Iowa (51-14) to claim the Little Brown Jug and Floyd of Rosedale. Last season marked the first time that Minnesota had beaten Michigan and Iowa in the same season since 1967. Under Kill’s direction, Minnesota also erased a 14-point halftime deficit at Nebraska to beat the ranked Huskers on the road for the first time since 1960.
Kill coached the Big Ten tight end of the year in Maxx Williams and the Big Ten punter of the year in Peter Mortell and in total five Gophers were named All-Big Ten First Team, the most since 2004.
Kill and Minnesota earned a berth and played in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. The game marked Minnesota’s first appearance in the historic Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and was the first time that Minnesota played a bowl game in January in Florida. Kill led the Gophers to a January bowl game for the first time since 1962 when Minnesota beat UCLA 21-3 on Jan. 1, in the Rose Bowl.
For his efforts, Kill was voted the Big Ten’s Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year by the conference’s coaches and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year by the media who cover the Big Ten. He also was named Region 3 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association for the second straight year. Kill, who was the only repeat winner among the five Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, was recognized by the AFCA for the fourth time, as he was also named a Regional Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004 while at Southern Illinois. Noted analyst Tom Lemming also tabbed Kill as his National Coach of the Year.
In 2013, the Gophers reached eight wins for the first time under Kill and for only the seventh time since 1960. Kill and his staff led Minnesota to four straight Big Ten wins for the first time since 1973 and ended a 16-game losing streak to Nebraska, as Kill was named Region 3 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.
The NFL is also taking note of Kill’s rebuilding of the Minnesota program, as six Gophers have been selected in the last two NFL Drafts. In 2014, Ra’Shede Hageman was selected in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons and Brock Vereen was a fourth round pick of the Chicago Bears. In 2015, Maxx Williams was taken in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens, while Damien Wilson (fourth round to the Dallas Cowboys), David Cobb (fifth round to the Tennessee Titans) and Cedric Thompson (fifth round to the Miami Dolphins) also heard their named called by NFL teams.
The four draft picks from 2015 are the most that Minnesota has had since it also had four players picked in 2006. The six combined picks from 2014 and 2015 are more than Minnesota had drafted from 2007-13 (Gophers had four players taken during this time).
Kill’s rebuilding of the Minnesota program is also taking place in the classroom. The Gophers recorded a 994 Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the 2013-14 season as well as the the 2012-13 and 2011-12 seasons. The 994 score is the highest single-season score that the Minnesota football team has ever recorded and the Gophers’ multi-year rate of 975 is also a school record.
Kill came to Minnesota after spending three seasons on the sidelines at NIU. Kill led the Huskies to three consecutive bowl games during his tenure and also coached NIU to a berth the Mid-American Conference Championship game in 2010. Kill was 23-16 in his three seasons with the Huskies.
At NIU, Kill coached two winners of the Mid-American Conference Vern Smith Leadership Award, given annually to the conference’s top football player. Defensive end Larry English won the award in 2008, Kill’s first season. Running back Chad Spann was honored in 2010. English went on to be the No. 16 overall choice in the 2009 NFL Draft and currently plays for the San Diego Chargers.
During 2010, Kill mentored six first-team All-MAC selections. In his three seasons, the Huskies earned 10 first-team all-MAC honors. His 2010 squad ranked No. 7 in the nation in rushing offense, No. 12 in scoring offense, No. 19 in total offense, No. 14 in scoring defense, No. 26 in total defense, No. 24 in rushing defense and No. 44 in passing defense. Following the 2010 season, Kill was named the National Coach of the Year by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In 2009, Kill was presented with the National Football Foundation Courage Award by the Chicago Metro Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
In four previous stops as a head coach, he has never left a school with a sub-.500 record. In three of his previous four head coaching positions, he took over a team with a losing record and turned in a winning season in three years or less.
Prior to serving as the head coach at NIU, Kill was in charge of the football program at Southern Illinois, an FCS program in Carbondale, Ill. He spent seven years on the Saluki sideline and compiled a 55-32 record. Kill’s record over his final five seasons with Southern Illinois was 50-14 and included five consecutive NCAA FCS Playoff appearances.
Kill was the head coach at Emporia (Kan.) State for two seasons in 1999-2000. He went 11-11 with the Hornets, who play at the NCAA Division II level. Prior to Emporia State, Kill was the head coach at NCAA Division II member Saginaw Valley State from 1994-1998. He compiled a 38-14 record with the Cardinals.
Kill served as defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator in two different stops at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University. He helped lead the Gorillas to three NAIA playoff appearances as the defensive coordinator from 1985-87. Kill returned to Pitt State as the offensive coordinator from 1990-93. In that four-year span, the Gorillas advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs four times, reaching the championship game twice and winning the 1991 national title.
Sandwiched between his stints at Pittsburg State, Kill was the head coach at Webb City (Mo.) High School. He was 25-1 in two seasons at Webb City and won a state championship in 1989.
Kill and his wife Rebecca have two daughters, Krystal and Tasha.
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