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Jerry Kill’s medical condition puts Minnesota program between a rock and a hard place

Jerry Kill

Jerry Kill

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Updated: November 7, 2013 6:55AM



Unfortunately, sympathy is all Minnesota can afford to give coach Jerry Kill at this point. Anything else would be detrimental to its football program and the university.

Kill, who battles epilepsy, suffered his second seizure of the season early Saturday. The university said in a statement that Kill was not feeling well Friday night and decided he would not travel with the Gophers for their game against Michigan. He had planned to meet the team Saturday morning, but his latest epileptic episode derailed those plans.

He also had a seizure at halftime of Minnesota’s 44-21 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 7. Kill has had five seizures since the university hired him in December of 2011.

Kill has the program pointed in the right direction. After winning three games in 2011, he led the Gophers to the Meineke Car Care Bowl — their first bowl appearance since 2009. Making the situation even more difficult, Kill is well-liked. But it has become clear the university needs to find a new coach.

It’s not that Kill is expendable. Minnesota would be well-served to create a position for him. Football consultant, maybe? Keep him a part of the university and football program, but in a role that doesn’t demand the day-to-day responsibilities of a coach.

Even in some sort of secondary role he can continue to turn around the program, which he has done in coaching stops at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.

The situation is delicate. It has to be handled appropriately.

It’s wildly unfair that a medical condition out of his control could dictate such an abrupt ending to a successful coaching career. But the university has its considerations, too.

Tragically, Kill’s condition prevents him from fulfilling the responsibilities of a football coach.

Questioning whether Kill will be healthy enough to coach the season exudes the sort of discontinuity that is crippling to a football program. It was evident Saturday when the Gophers lost 42-13 at Michigan.

The face of a college football program needs to be consistent, no matter the circumstances or how heartbreaking.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @sethgruen



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