Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz had his weekly press conference on Tuesday, recapping the win over Indiana and previewing the rivalry game against Minnesota on Saturday. In his opening statement, he took time out to laud former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill for his career, accomplishments, and his impact on college football as a whole.
Jerry Kill stepped down as head coach of Minnesota a few weeks due to health reasons. In a pretty emotional announcement, he said that he needed to step away and focus on getting better. It was a decision based on family which can be respected at all levels.
The Golden Gophers have been a quality program and Jerry Kill is one of the main reasons. He's turned the Minnesota program around and brought them back to relevance. Kirk Ferentz would agree.
"I think everybody involved with college football was certainly sad when Coach Kill made his announcement a couple weeks ago, and from my standpoint at least, I think it's very easy to say he's clearly been great for the University of Minnesota," Ferentz said. "I think he's been great for the Big Ten, and I would say for the entire game of college football, and has been for quite some time."
Ferentz even lauded Kill's accomplishments at previous stops, specifically Northern Illinois. But not all of it is football. Jerry Kill was respected across the college football landscape for the mark he left on his players in a personal aspect as well. He's one of the coaches out there that still aids in the maturity of young men. The "leader of men' is kind of a buzzword in labeling certain coaches, and Jerry Kill definitely fits the bill.
"He's a tremendous man, a tremendous football coach, and our game is going to miss him," Ferentz pointed out. "Certainly the players that had an opportunity to work with him I think would echo that, as would his staff. Just all of us were very, very saddened by that news, and give our best to him certainly."
The Gophers have now turned to Tracy Claeys to steer the ship. He was who the players wanted in charge and has stepped in on a number of occasions in Jerry Kill's absence in the past. Earlier today, Kill was stripped of the interim tag and accepted a three-year contract to become the new head coach at the University of Minnesota.
Claeys has been the acting head coach the past two games, games in which they lost but competed strongly against Big Ten powers Ohio State and Michigan.
"You know, prior to his announcement, Minnesota was dealing with a lot of injuries early in the season," Ferentz discussed. "I know he's spoke about that a little bit. Most recently they dealt with his announcement, his situation, and bottom line is they've played very, very well the last couple weeks out against very tough opponents. We've got a very big challenge on our hands as we move forward here."
It is clear that Ferentz knows he's going to get the Gophers' best.