O.k. I am on record as being underwhelmed with the selection of Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill as the new football coach for the Golden Gophers. It's partially based on expectations. With the Mike Leach's and the Randy Shannon's of the college football world on record as being interested in the job, I (along with thousands of others) were hoping for a bigger name, someone who would instantly bring excitement to the team. A guy who would make you pick up the phone and call the Bierman building and get a couple of season tickets to next's years season at TCF. Jerry Kill just isn't that guy.
However Kill does bring some positives to the program besides a killer name (sorry). He's won everywhere he's coached and promises to bring a hard-nosed run and defense-focused effort to the Gophers. That's something they desperately need and an approach that Iowa and Wisconsin have proved can be quite competitive in the Big Ten. And it should be just as desirable to come to Minneapolis as it is for an 18 year old to come to Iowa City and Madison.
The biggest hit against Jerry Kill is that people (including me) are concerned whether or not he can recruit the skill players needed to compete in the Big Ten. Jerry Kill would do himself a lot of favors by again looking at what Iowa and Wisconsin does to get players to those programs. I for one know that Iowa fills a lot of its roster with Iowa kids. They may not be starters and the definitely don't have a future in the NFL but they are serviceable back-ups and great practice kids. Plus they bring a lot of in-state pride to the program as the "local kid is a Hawkeye" buys a lot of love. This attitude also helps sell the program to the High School coaches so that when they have a blue-chipper, the relationship is established and Iowa can then go in and make the sell to the kid, his parents, the coach and the community. Given the fact that the state's lesser division football teams have had a lot of success lately, there is talent to fill out a Big Ten football roster in Minnesota.
So Jerry Kill is what he is. A good coach but not a barn burner. After the all talk and no show Brewster years, it might be a relief. However, a couple of 7-5 seasons and Insight Bowl appearances are not what's going to excite this town. If I were Jerry Kill, I would hire the best recruiters I can, target a few good markets like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and then try to get who you can from Florida and Texas and then fill the rest of the roster with Minnesota kids. Then coach the hell out of them. You do that, win some big games and just once or twice vie for a Rose Bowl bid, then we will be eating out of your hands for years to come.