11/06/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
With the announcement of the first four teams for the Bowl Championship Series and the debacle of officiating in the ending of the Miami vs Duke game dominating the headlines of college football, maybe you missed this story. Coaches come and go in NCAA football, speaking of Miami it just happened there prior to the Duke game. But Jerry Kill leaving the University of Minnesota was different from most coaching departures. It was emotional. It was obviously a very difficult decision. But it was also the right move.
Jerry Kill had worked his way up the coaching ladder through such places as Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, and Southern Illinois universities before getting a chance to coach a Division One program. After 14 years in the sub divisions, Kill was named head coach at Northern Illinois in 2008. Kill led the Huskies to bowl games in all 3 of his seasons as coach, his most successful being his final season in 2010, where NIU went 10 and 3.
Kill would leave Northern Illinois to take the head coaching job at Minnesota of the Big 10 Conference. His team struggled his first season, going 3 and 9, but the on field losses weren't Kill's biggest issue. Kill first started to have health issues due to seizures. The team improved the following season, winning 6 games and becoming bowl eligible. In 2013, the Gophers started the season winning 4 of their first 5 games, but Kill had to take a leave of absence due to the seizures he suffered. He watched the rest of the season from the press box, before returning to the field in 2014. Minnesota finished 8 and 5, matching their record from the season before. Kill was also named the Big 10 Coach of the Year for 2014 as well. But the seizures came back this season, and Kill was forced to announce his retirement last week
By resigning, Kill walked away from $10 million dollars in salary due from his contract which ran through 2019. Instead he received an $800,000 buyout. Kill worked as an assistant coach then a head coach at lower level programs for 28 years to finally get his big break at Minnesota, but he never got to enjoy it due to his health issues. He called his decision to retire the hardest thing he ever had to do in his life and the toughest thing he had to deal with besides the death of his father.
But it was some advice from Kill's late father that helped him to walk away. His father told him "that no matter how much money you make, you give everything you've got and don't cheat the person who's paying you". While that was sound advice, there is more than just that.
It was a hard decision. It took a lot to walk away from that dream job and the millions of dollars. But it was the right decision. Jerry Kill realized that there is a lot more important than football and money. Kill realized how precious time on earth is and that his wife and kids are more important than all of that other stuff. As Kill himself said at his farewell press conference "if you ain't around to spend all that money, what difference does it make"?
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