Jerry Kill Just Can’t Help Himself…

Photo: Meg Potter - Sun-News

Thursday is the big day. Contrary to what he said three years ago, former Minnesota Gophers head football coach, Jerry Kill, will step back onto the Huntington Bank Stadium turf at the University of Minnesota. Standing opposite from him, on the home sideline, will be the one person in this world that he hates most, PJ Fleck.

We all know what Kill, now head coach at New Mexico State University, said about Fleck, now entering his 6th season as Gophers head coach, said back in 2019. But just in case you forgot. Here’s the full quote again.

“And when he went into Minnesota and treated the people the way he treated my guys and telling ‘em he had to go in and completely change the culture, and it was a bad culture and bad people, you know, he made it sound like we didn’t know what we were doing, and I took it personal. You just don’t treat people that have been with you and helped you career and you don’t even talk to him, you know, once you get the job.” Jerry Kill on PJ Fleck (2019)

Kill was/is Detached from Reality

Of course, none of those allegations are true. Fleck never criticized Jerry Kill, after landing the head coaching job before the 2017 season. Yes, PJ talked a lot about the program’s culture and how it needed change. How it needed to Row the Boat. But that’s what every new coach says, minus the boat-rowing part (trademarked) when taking over a program.

The new guy in charge has a different personality, thus he wants different personality traits from his football team and the players on its roster. Nobody should see that more clearly than Jerry Kill, who would be the first to tell you that he and Fleck are nothing alike. Those who appreciate Jerry’s leadership style are unlikely to fall for the way PJ does things, and visa versa.

But don’t tell that to Jerry Kill. After three years, nothing has changed in the way he approaches the PJ Fleck subject. He refuses to mention PJ by name, instead insisting on using “the other guy”. Which is why he’ll get booed on Thursday, instead of being celebrated:

[brid video=”1088380″ player=”36395″ title=”Jerry%20Kill's%20Return%20Should've%20Been%20a%20Celebration” duration=”90″ description=”Jerry Kill saved the Minnesota Gophers football program, after Tim Brewster ran it into the ground. He laid the foundation for which PJ Fleck built on. But his bitterness has ruined his return to Dinkytown. So, instead of being celebrated. He’ll get booed.” uploaddate=”2022-09-01″ thumbnailurl=”https://cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/24584/snapshot/1088380_th_1662047143.jpg” contentUrl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/24584/sd/1088380.mp4″ width=”480″ height=”270″]

Revisionist History

But it’s not just about Kill’s refusal to acknowledge Fleck’s existence. It’s not even about Jerry’s refusal to take any accountability for his petty attacks on PJ when all PJ did was accept a head coaching position AFTER Claeys was fired. For me, it’s Kill’s revisionist history.

Kill still believes that Fleck personally attacked him, his old program and his right-hand man, Tracy Claeys. Just take a look at what Jerry said earlier this week. to the Las Cruces Sun News. Ignore some of the past tense references, and it’s the same quote from 2019 (above).

“That’s my best friend (Claeys) so what am I supposed to do,” Kill said on Monday. “I stuck up for my guy. Everybody else in the country stuck up for him, too. When (Fleck) got the job, he talked about that he had to rebuild and the program was in shambles so of course there was a reaction and I made a statement at that particular time.” – Jerry Kill (Las Cruces Sun News)

Kill is mad at himself

At the end of the day, Jerry Kill is mad at himself. He wasn’t monitoring and keeping up his health like he should have been, when he was head coach of the Minnesota Gophers. Because of that, he lost everything he had worked his entire career for.

Now, he’ll never get that opportunity back. Clearly, it’s a reality that weighs heavily on him. A reality he hasn’t found a healthy way to cope with. So instead, he turns that anger on Mark Coyle, for firing his best friend. But that’s not enough. PJ Fleck needs blame too, even if we have to makeup reasons for it.

“I would still be coaching there,” Kill said after practice on Monday. “It sent me on a path. I’ve stated several times that I’ve never been the same since what happened to me in Minnesota in 2015 and I never will be.” – Jerry Kill (Las Cruces Sun News)

Kickoff between the Minnesota Gophers and New Mexico State Aggies is 8 PM CT and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan