Coach's Job: Lead Program by Example
Kill said winning won’t happen “overnight”
and he hopes fans will be patient. He and his staff face challenges in
not only recruiting better players, but also keeping players in school.
He said some players have “dug themselves a hole academically.”
Kill doesn’t want to see young men lose
the promise of a college degree and the future that can help ensure.
But there’s more involved, too. He and other college coaches are
accountable to the NCAA to ensure academic progress and success by their
players, or face possible sanctions that can include reduction in
With a new emphasis on academics in the
football department, Kill plans on seeing a lot of impressive results in
the future. On Friday he found a silver lining to the subject of
academics when he talked about five of his players who were recently
recognized as Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar Athletes,
Royston, Ryan Orton, Chase Haviland, Aaron Hill
and Adam Lueck. That means they achieved a 3.7 GPA or higher
during the previous academic year.
Kill is looking for what he defines as the
“best players,” not necessarily the best athletes. Players
with character who want to be at Minnesota. Young men who can be
coached, compete hard on every play, are team focused, and attend class.
Kill refers to such individuals as “A”
players. He knows he has some on the roster now and wants more. And
he’s looking for “A” performances from himself, his assistants, support
personnel and others involved with Gophers football. People with not
only knowledge and ability, but also a passion for what they do and an
“A+” work ethic that perhaps rivals Kill who routinely works from 6 a.m.
to 10 p.m.
The Gophers will open practice on August 8
and play their first game at Southern California on September 3. As
Kill prepares for his first season at Minnesota he knows he’s the
ringmaster inside the U football tent but he doesn’t plan to be alone.
“My job right now is to lead by example,”
he said. “If I am going home at 4:30 in the afternoon, then I am
letting the state down. Frankly, when I took the job I told Rebecca
(his wife), we’re gonna have to marry this baby because we got a lot
of work to do.
“People this year, they’re going to get
after me. I understand that. They’re going to say, ‘Well, shoot,
they’re the same old (Gophers). When you’re frustrated that’s how you
“You know what, I got a thick skin. I
know if we can stay on course, if we do what we need to do, it’s going
to eventually happen because it’s happened everywhere else. But without
the support of the people, and the support of the people at the top, and
the changes we’re going to have to make (it won't happen).
“I am not going to cheat the school. If
they don’t want to do it, then I ain’t gonna be here. I came here
because I believe we’re going to change this thing. I believe people
are going to buy into what we’re trying to do.”