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Press Conference Transcript: Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Football Coach Jerry Kill

Below is the transcript from the December 6th, 2010 introduction of as the next Head Coach of the University of Minnesota football team.

Coach Kill signed a 5 year, $5 million dollar contract with incentives.


JOEL MATURI: Good afternoon and welcome. This 51‑day search for a new football coach for the University of Minnesota has finally come to a conclusion, and it's a good conclusion.

Before I introduce Coach Kill, I want to take a minute to than Coach Jeff Horton for the tremendous job that he did as interim coach here at the University of Minnesota. Not only did we win our final two football games, including a trophy game, but the success he had in keeping the staff and players focused on football, the classrooms, and their jobs was remarkable. Really a debt of gratitude and thanks.

When we began this journey, we stated that we had some preferences as to the character, experience, and qualifications for the next football coach here at the University of Minnesota. We had some absolutes: No NCAA violations of significance, no social conduct issues, and a demonstrated commitment to academics.

We had some other important criteria as well. We wanted a coach with experience winning as a head coach at the collegiate level. That does not mean that we were not interested in coordinators or professional coaches, not that we did not consider those people, but we really preferred an active head college coach.

We'd consider it a bonus if he had done his winning at a program without recent success. Again, not essential, but we wanted someone who we knew could build a program. We preferred a coach with knowledge of recruiting in the north central part of the country. Something I think we all agree is significantly important. We wanted someone who was a good fit for Minnesota, for the University of Minnesota.

Finally, we kept telling ourselves, Don't fall in love too fast. We knew there was much speculation, a lot of nervousness as to the process, but we wanted to make certain that we explored every viable candidate interested in the Minnesota job who fit our criteria.

We traveled a lot. We put on a lot of the miles. We met a lot of the people from outstanding candidates who wanted this job. The process has been thorough. Calls and contacts with athletic directors all over the country, head and assistant coaches, commissioners, former players, and many others interested in providing feedback in our search.

During that process, one name kept coming up during my efforts. That name was Jerry Kill. We knew about him, because back in September he beat the Gophers right here on this field, and his team was well‑coached. The more I spoke to others about him, that fact that his teams were always we prepared was mentioned time and time again.

When you look at his resume and the job he has done at every school he has coached at, his teams just keep getting better. He has a record of 127‑73, and in the past eight it is 73‑30. During that time, he has won three conference championships and finished runner‑up three more times.

Jerry Kill is a winner. He is also a battler having beaten cancer, and he and his wife, Rebecca, have started a foundation to help beat that disease. Jerry's players love playing for him, and do well on the field, in the community, and in the classroom? In fact, the academic progress rate at Northern Illinois ‑ and it's one of the academic measurements used today ‑ is in the top 10 in the nation.

His values reflect those important to Minnesota: He cares about people, and they care about him, as is evidenced by the fact that most of his coaches have been with him for several years.

The light of his life is his wife Rebecca, and she will make a great first lady of Gopher football, and you will take to her immediately. Before I introduce Jerry, I would like to introduce Rebecca to the Minnesota family.

Rebecca. (Applause).

It's my honor and pleasure to introduce to you the head football coach at the University of Minnesota, Jerry Kill. (Applause).

COACH KILL: This is a tremendous day in my life, and I certainly want to start this off ‑ and I think it's very important ‑ that I have to thank the people back at Northern Illinois, President Peters, Jeff Compher, our athletic director.

Actually, the two guys that hired me, Jim Phillips, who is now the athletic director at Northwestern. He left me after about two months, and I told him I wanted to play him. He said, No, I'm not gonna play you, so now I get to play him.

But they gave me an opportunity to coach Division I football. They took a chance, and I really appreciate that. I wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for those people and our players. The toughest thing I've ever had to do was leave a bunch of players that played their tail end off for me. I would tell you they're not happy with Coach Kill. As I told my daughters, that's a good thing. If they're happy, I didn't do my job. I think it was a tough situation.

But with that being said, this is a great day for my family. A great day. I'm so thankful for having the opportunity to be here. I appreciate both presidents and Joel for giving me this opportunity. It's an opportunity of a lifetime.

I can remember driving up to this stadium and going to that locker room. When we drove up, I turned to one of the assistant coach es and I said, Wow, this place made a commitment now. This is unbelievable. Having no idea that I would be standing here today. You know, it has so many things to offer, and for me to have this chance, I'm truly blessed. I've been blessed all my life, and it seems like things just fall into place for me. I'm just a fortunate, fortunate person.

I also want to share with you that I think Coach Horton and his staff did an outstanding job doing as I talked with them today at doing they did, and the Gopher players, sticking together through adversity and winning those last two games. From the outside world it was noticed, so that shows a lot for our future.

I think we're going in with some momentum, and I'm excited about that. So it's a great time for us, and we're so appreciative. I know there will be many questions. Just to tell you, I'm a small town guy. I grew up in a town of 2000 people 25 miles straight west of Wichita, Kansas. I didn't think anybody would know where that was, and I ran into two people today that know where that's at.

Grew up very simple. Walk‑on player at Southwestern College. Got my start through Dennis Franchione, who was my college at Southwestern, and worked my way all the way through. I've coached high school football and every college level. I just worked, and I love the game. I have great passion for the game. I think it's the greatest game that's ever been invented. I think it does many things for young people. It moulds them. We get to get in a room, all of us come from all different places, and we all got to go one way. That's the great thing about the game and what I enjoy.

I love it. My wife will tell you I have no hobbies except coaching football and my family. That's my hobbies. When I go into a situation, I marry it just like I married my wife. I've had a lot of people try to figure out when she stood up ‑‑ go ahead and stand up again, Rebecca. Ya'll are trying to figure this out now, and I understand. That's not my daughter, that's my wife.

We all know that you win games not with coaches, but you win it with players and recruiting. You've got to have good players. There's no question about that. We got to continued to that and do a great in the state of Minnesota and keep those good ones here. We gotta circle out a five‑hour radius and we got to recruit.

I can tell you, if I can capture that lady ‑‑ and I did that a long time ago; I was 21 years old and she was 19, and we've been married ever since. I want to let ya'll know now, I know there's just been a big search. I wasn't her first choice. I was second or third down that line. I had to work at it.

So this is the first time maybe I haven't been the first choice. I can live with that. (Laughter.) But when I want something and I want it bad enough, I'm going to get it. I told her I was going to marry her right next to her boyfriend at her momma's table, so I am aggressive.

So with that, it's just a great, great opportunity. I am who am. I get prepped for things and talk. This is me. I'm not a guy that's ever gonna to hold a card. I'm never going to do that. I'm gonna talk from the heart. Sometimes that may be good and sometimes maybe it will be bad, but I'm just gonna tell you how I feel.

I woke up and, you know, I get on the phone and I look at the people that went to school here, you know, Bud Grant, Tony Dungy, and I'm sitting there going, Jiminy Christmas, you got to be kidding me? I'm getting to be a part of this?

I think everybody here needs to know it's great to be here at the U, at the University of Minnesota, and it is not Jerry Kill's football team. This is our football team. This is the State of Minnesota's football team. This is the Twin Cities' football team. I need the high school coaches to be a part of this football team. We need everybody, because I know we have passionate fans here. I've seen that already. And some frustrated fans, which I understand, okay?

But the only way we're going to go the directions that we want to go, it's going to be a team effort. We need to be positive. I'm gonna be positive in tough times. We're going to have to pull together. If we can all get in one direction now, there are some special things can happen.

I've said this many times before, and I had people roll their eyes at me when I first got the job. It's happened every time everywhere I've ever been. The only way ‑‑ I can sit here and talk about it, but talk's cheap. You gotta show me. And I'm understanding that.

I also coached in Missouri. They told me that was the show me state. They said, Show me coach. I think that's what we have to do. I'm a roll‑your‑sleeves‑up guy. I love coaching football. I want you to be involved and I want you to come to practice. We'll be in spring ball, and I'm going to get after it now. We will practice fast, high tempo, and we will work.

My motto is: We're going to outwork people. I'm going to outwork people, our players are going to outwork people, and we're going to take it day by day and get better every day. You can't talk about long‑term goals. You can say what you want to do, but ‑‑ and I can't promise you wins and how fast it's going to happen and all those things.

I can promise you we're going to get better every day, because you are either stay the same in life or you get better. I told our players today, We're going to get better every day, and you need to start today. That's what I tell our coaching staff and everybody that I work with.

So I think if we do that, the big goals come. That's how I've coached all my life, and I'm not gonna change because it's worked pretty good so far. I think the big thing we've go to do again is we got to make sure we surround ourselves and get good people and everybody with the same vision.

I have the utmost confidence, and I wouldn't be here ‑‑ with the administration, again, I'm so thankful and ready to go side by side and get this thing done.

Again, I will tell you from a media standpoint and everybody in this room, We need you. It's your team. It's not Coach Kill's team. I know there's a lot of questions, and I'm going to let you hammer at me. I'm going to tell you exactly how I feel.

We'll just get started.

Q. There were some fans that were hoping for a bigger name coach, a splashier coach. Coming from a smaller school, how are going to win those fans over? Do you look at it as a negative that you're coming from a smaller Division I school?

COACH KILL: Like I said, I wasn't my wife's first choice. I had to work at that, so I understand that. (Laughter.) There are some big names out there, but I got to thinking about that. You know, Urban Meyer coached at Bowling Green, and not many people knew about Urban Meyer and he's done pretty good. Jim Tressel is a 1AA there at Youngstown, and old done a pretty good job. I think sooner or later you just gotta get a chance.

But I think I'm one of those people that I understand that. I have no problems with that. I think those expectations when you're going out and looking for a coach, hey, you need to do that. There are some big‑name coaches that sometimes get the big name, and, you know, they don't work out so well sometimes.

So I am who I am. I'm never gone apologize for that. I'm a hard worker, and I've been able to win. I was at a school that didn't have as many resources and we were able to beat some Big 10 schools. I did it in the 1AA level. I think coaching is coaching. I think high school coaches of this state will appreciate it.

You know, there's high school coaches that go coach college football today and do well. But sometimes you get that, Well, it's different. It isn't any different. I coached at Webb City High School. I still do a lot of the same practice stuff I did then, and, again, it's worked pretty good.

So I'm looking forward to the challenge. But I understand that. There's nothing wrong with that whatsoever. The only thing I can prove is what I do on a day‑by‑day basis. We're gonna keep it open. I have no problems people judging and saying, I don't understand that. That's okay.

But I guarantee if we go out and do a job and this program starts going the direction it will go, people will say, You know what, that wasn't too bad. I look forward to that challenge. I've always had a little bit of a chip on my shoulders, so I think that's a good thing.

Q. You already gave credit to Jeff Horton and the staff. Wondering if you were planning on keeping anyone around? I mean, coming in with a long‑term staff as you have, are you keeping any of the current coaches around?

COACH KILL: Well, I visited with them today. We're going to meet actually tomorrow, and I'm going to meet with each coach. That's what I've done with every job that I've done and taken over, visit with them. I do have a core staff that's been together, and think that's important.

I think if you look at programs that turn around, you have to keep and staff and they have to be loyal. You can't have people going in and out. There's no continuity there. That's why we've been able to change programs; however, when I went to Northern Illinois three years ago, I thought I was going to take everybody, and all of a sudden I interviewed some coaches that I thought would better our situation at Northern Illinois.

Ultimately, I got to do what's best for the University of Minnesota. So I'm going to make sure that we get the best coaching staff that's going to be loyal to this university. I don't want somebody going in and out. I've got to know they're gonna be committed.

I get a pretty good feel for that, and that's why those guys have been with me for so long. Plus, I'm encouraging Northern Illinois to hire one of those guys as head coach. So I've got pride in that. Every program I've left they kept winning, and I would like to see them do that.

We'll just have to see how it all plays out, but we're going to work through it and get the best staff we can to be successful here at the University of Minnesota.

Q. Can you talk about your style of play and how it fits into the Big 10 maybe with the players that you inherited? Also, you had a chance to play Minnesota this year, so you know them very well. Will you have to change a lot of things in your first year as far as the style?

COACH KILL: Well, I think that we had to adjust when I first went to Northern. We gradually got where we wanted to get, and that was this year. I look at the personnel, and I've really got to study and go through spring to make a rash judgment.

But we want to be a multiple offense. We want to be able to lineup in two backs and come downhill. But at the same time, we want to run some spread option and read option. We've been pretty multiple, and it keeps people off balance. We been able to score some points and we were very productive this year.

A lot this has to do with the personnel. I'll be very honest, I like an athletic quarterback, one that makes up for my lack of coaching that can get out of a play every once in a while and make a play. I want a fast team.

I will tell you, Gary Patterson is one of my closest friends. I was best man at his wedding. We come out of the same mould. If you look at TCU, they can run, and we're gonna run here. We're going to recruit speed. That's important to me. If it's a little bit less size and more speed, we'll d that.

We want an aggressive football team. You win on defense. You have to play good defense, and you got to be good in the kicking game. But I'm an aggressive coach. I don't know if it's good or bad, maybe it's fearless, but, hey, it's third down and three and they're gonna put nine in the box; let's run play‑action and try to stroke the post. Let's go.

We're gonna take with the defense gives us. You know, I know a lot about Big 10 football. I'm a Midwest guy; that's why this is a good fit for me. So I've got a good idea. I've played against Wisconsin, Minnesota. You know, we've done that, so I've got a good idea of what we need to do. We've got to be a little bit different and find a little edge. That's what we need to work on.

I think we can come up with that plan as we go. We're gonna work. Like I said, there's no quick fix. That's not what I'm here for. You know what, if I don't get the job done, they can fire me. You know what, they won't have to. I'll tell 'em they need to get rid of me. That's the truth. I've told everybody that.

I'm passionate for what I do. I'm not a cocky person, but I believe in what we're doing, and we're gonna do it the right way. We're gonna do it and not take any shortcuts. I'm not going the quick fix way. We're going to honor commitments that have already been made and do things right.

If it takes a little bit, that's okay. But we're going to do it right. I think if we do it right we'll see success sooner. That's just the way I feel.

Q. If you could, expand a little bit more on your defensive philosophy and just in general what sort of scheme you like to run.

COACH KILL: Sure. We're based out of a 4‑3 scheme. Of course, the spread teams, they put some stress on you and you got to get into a little bit more 4‑2. But we're going to try to get eight in the box in there some way. We're gonna disguise.

You got to be able to stop the run, it doesn't matter what conference you're in. I tell our defense, They're gonna beat us throwing the ball, I can live with it, but I don't want anybody running the ball on us now. That's not good.

So we're going to make sure we stop the run and so a lot zone pressures, man pressures. Again, a big key to what you do on defense is who you're lining up there at the corners. If you're going out there and I was in the NFL and I get the draft, I'm gonna have me a great defensive end that can rush the passer, and two good corners that can lock down people. Then you can do about anything you want.

But I think a lot of that has to do with recruiting and the personnel, how fast we can get to do what we want. But we want to put pressure. You know, we blocked, I don't know, I think in the last seven or eight years I think we blocked 26 punts.

I like putting pressure on people and making them uncomfortable. People get comfortable, that's when they can get after you. Kind of like every once in a while we soften up on defense, and that prevents you from winning sometimes. I would rather go down putting pressure than just sitting back sometimes. I like putting pressure on people. I think that's good.

Q. After you played the Gophers here and won the game, what did you think of the shape Gopher program was in?

COACH KILL: It's one of those things where ‑‑ first of all, coming in here and winning the game, I look at it this way: We were fortunate, we played hard, and our kids were ready. They did a nice job.

We played Minnesota, and then we marched onto the next game. I really didn't get into it and focus on it that much because I didn't know I was going to be here or anything.

So I moved on. I really was focused in on our football team and what we needed to do to get better. I thought after that game, I said, Maybe we have a chance to be a solid football team here at Northern Illinois, because I wasn't sure up to that point.

You know, we played awfully well. It was our day that day, and the kids did a nice job. But, you know, I actually played twice. I was on the other end of it the first year I was here in the Dome. We didn't fare so well that day, so that happens.

Q. I know your plate is full and you got a lot of things that you have to try to get done in a short period of time. There is a list of kids who have verbally committed to the Gopher football program. How soon will you contact those kids, and will you honor those verbal commitments, even though you've been able to walk in the door here early December and get a pretty decent jump on the recruiting process.

COACH KILL: Today. Today. As soon as I get done here, if I have to go all night, we'll get that done today. I'm meeting with some high school coaches in Minnesota tomorrow. We're going to work. Right now it's a one‑man show, and our staff that's here now because they're here and they're working. I'm going to visit with them.

They've done a great job. I can't say enough about what Coach Horton and that group of people have done. So we're going to honor those commitments. I think those kids ‑‑ lots of 'em I know, to be honest with you, through recruiting. They'll know the style we play and what we do. If it's something they're uncomfortable with and things of that nature, then we understand that, too.

But we'll honor the commitments and get to them as soon as I possibly can. I think it's important to reach out to the high school coaches. I used to be on the Glacier Clinic Tour. It's a worldwide tour. I used to speak every year here in Minneapolis. So I used to do that, so I got to know some high school coaches.

We have some players from our school ‑ they're not so happy with me right now ‑ that are from Minnesota that played for me. One of 'em is our starting tackle, one ever Trevor Olson, whose dad is a high school coach. Trevor has I think started 38 straight games, so I think it's important that we connect with the high school coaches.

Again, I look at it this way: I've said everywhere I've been, the hardest place to recruit sometimes is right in your backyard because people come in and can get the great players. It's not easy, but by gosh we need to work at it now. We need to try to keep the best players in the state and build relationships.

It's not going to happen overnight. It takes time to do that. But we're certainly gonna try to get on that and go from there.

Q. You had a chance to meet players earlier today. Can you talk about that meeting and what you told the players when you met them for the first time?

COACH KILL: Well, I didn't get a long time with 'em. I think I had about 20, 25 minutes. I basically told 'em about myself and coaching philosophy. I talked with 'em a little bit about for me to get to coach you, I have to get to know you because every kid is different.

I don't treat everybody the same, but I treat them fairly. You can't treat everybody the same. We're all different. Some kids can be motivated through a little tough love, and others you have to make sure they're doing okay. We all come from different backgrounds, so I have to get to know them before I can push the right buttons to get 'em there.

I'm not going to be a quick evaluator. There may be somebody in that room that hasn't play here that all of a sudden comes out of the woodwork and plays real well for me. There's might be somebody that's played here that's not happy. You just have to work through it.

But that's going to take time. Again, that's a day‑by‑day process. I shared that with them. I told them about of offensive and defensive scheme. I told 'em, When we practice, we're going to practice. We get a lot repetition in a fast way. I believe you don't walk on the filed; you run from drill to drill. I think that is part of discipline.

You know, we hit the field, you're going to play the game of football. You're getting a scholarship or a walk‑on and you get to be here at the University of Minnesota and you're going to play, it's a privilege. You're representing the university of Minnesota, the U, and I expect you to play hard.

That's one thing every team I've ever had, we have played hard. We may have been a little bit less talented at times, but we will play hard. I can promise you that.

Q. Two things: First, why can this team win next season? Second, how can you make up for the week that's already been lost from the full‑fledged recruiting season?

COACH KILL: Well, those are very fair questions. As far as winning immediately next year, I can't tell you that. I can tell you a little bit more as we go through the spring and I get a feel for the players. It's a day‑by‑day thing. You know, I'll either see improvement or not, and I'll certainly share every day how I feel about where we're going, the direction. That takes time.

As far as losing the week, I better pick the pace up. Again, winning and success and all those kind of things, they don't happen overnight. It's a process. It's a journey. I love the journey. You know, gameday, I love the journey. I love watching young kids come in as freshman and maturing each year and getting better and better.

We got some momentum. We won the last two football games. You know, there's some talent. I walk in the room today, and the first player I see is MarQueis. I think they set me up and said, They're all going to look like that now. Coach, this is an gravy job. Get in your golf cart and tell him to run fast. I mean, that was a good move on your part, Joel. That was a very good move.

But I have a feeling they all don't look and run like that. I certainly know what kind of talent he has, because I was scratching my ‑‑ I didn't sleep much. That's why I don't have no hair that particular week with him. Again, you've got some talent like that. Again, how quick are they going to learn the system? How quick are they gonna buy in, you know?

I really feel like at Northern Illinois, to be honest with you, is that we're probably ‑‑ we're 10‑3 in a Bowl game, and we've been in three straight Bowl games. I got to be honest with you, the best team gonna be the next year, because I still think we're still trying to capture some kids and make sure they understand.

As we all well know, we're in the business world. We're from all over the place. It takes something special to get everybody to buy in. That's my job. I'm the leader and the one driving it. You know, I've got to make sure we do that.

I think the way you prove to people if you're worthy of anything is results and work ethic. They see you work and see improvement, and people understand that. Then all of a sudden you kind of know good things are on the horizon.

I just think it's perfect timing. That's the best thing I can tell you. I think it's perfect timing for a coach like myself to come into this job with a new stadium, with people that are passionate.

I waited all my life to ‑‑ somebody said to me, Coach, are you nervous about the meeting and all of that? I said, No, this is what you dream about. I want it to be important. I don't want to coach where it's not important. I want the pressure. That's what it's all about. That's part of the deal. It makes you better.

I guarantee the people that work for me, they're loyal, but they'll tell you, He's a hard man to work for now. He expects a lot; he wants everything perfect. I know we can't all be perfect, but we can strive to be. My expectations are high for the people that we work, and that's why I'm going to be very thorough exactly what we do with the people that we bring in to be a part of our team.

Q. You touched on it just a little bit there, but you've been through quite a coaching journey. Was this always the goal, to get to a BCS conference like this?

COACH KILL: I wish I would tell you all those great things. I got my first job at Midwest City High School in Oklahoma. Mike Gundy was the quarterback, so that's walking into something pretty good. He's the head coach there at Oklahoma State.

Believe it or not, I was also the wrestling coach and I did a little bit of girls' basketball. I just trying to get a job. My wife and I lived in a trailer house making about $250 a month. I made doughnuts, worked at the grocery store; I was surviving. I was just trying to find out what to do, just like all the 18, 19, 20 year old kids. I'm the only person now in my family to ever get a college degree. I'm fortunate to get a college degree. I worked and paid for mine.

You know what? I just got Coach Franchione told me, he says, I'll tell you what, I think you would be a good football coach. You need to hang in there and do that. I just kept doing it, and all of is a sudden I got offered ‑‑ Coach Franchione had me come to Pittsburgh State. I never had to look for a job or had to campaign for one, it's just happened.

You know, when I went to Northern Illinois I thought I was going to be there for the rest of my life. When I went to Southern Illinois, you know, and I think it's all public that I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm in remission. I'm doing fantastic.

But when you have something like that, all of a sudden people get scared of you. Hey, Jim Phillips and President Peters, they weren't scared of me. They said, hey, guy had cancer. I mean, what are we supposed to do? I think he can coach football.

They gave me an opportunity and didn't have to. I didn't plan on being at Northern Illinois. I certainly was focused in on being at Northern Illinois and got the opportunity at this.

Let me tell you something: This is a great job. You say, Coach how do you know that? Well, my roommate, college roommate is athletic director at Carleton University, Gerald Young. He can tell you all the good and bad about Coach Kill.

But he was my college roommate. I know quite a bit. My strength coach is right here from this area, so I know a lot and I know what the capabilities are. I'm excited about the challenge.

This is where I've been. I've several places and been able to turn several programs around, and I look forward to the opportunity to reach in here with you.

And I will tell you this: There will be another coach up here at another press conference, you know, three, four, five year if you don't help me. I need you. We all gotta work together. We got to be positive. We can't be negative. There's gonna be tough times and you have to deal with 'em.

I always tell people, You know, right now it's tough for me coming here. This is great today, but then leaving a bunch of kids that are upset with me and adversity how you deal with it, that determines what kind of man you are and what kind of program we're going to have.

So I don't have any problems. When we're not doing our job, you can tell me and it don't bother me any, because you're probably right. My wife doesn't like it when we lose because I don't talk for two days. My mom will be here at every game, I can tell you that. And if we don't win, she'll go, Boy we just didn't play very good, did we? Sometimes I want to go, Hey, mom, move over, you know. But she's a fan. She likes winning. She's competitive.

But you know what? There's processes to win. It just doesn't happen you show up and Hey, we're going to turn it around and win today and we're gonna do this. I can give you all those promises and get you fired up, but those are false promises.

I can promise you this: We'll go through the journey and work hard. And as long we're all together, you'll get the results you want.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it very much. (Applause).


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