"Well, I just, you know, it's one of those things where I felt it was important for us coming in as a coach and coming into the program and seeing where we were at and the discussions with my agent and Joel, and also the president, I felt we needed time to do it right," head coach Jerry Kill said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
"And the situation that we are in, and I'm not blaming anybody, it's just the situation that we are in, is that we have some -- we have some things that we got to get corrected. And I think that coming in, you know, there was more things than I thought and even probably Joel thought. There was some things in there that's going to take time. We have got some issues from academics to different things. And when you're at a place where we are at, there's going to have to be a huge investment to get back at it. I've shared that with Joel and I've shared it with our president."
Kill went on to say, "It was going to take some time and we are going to take some hits and we are going to take some public hits and that's part of it. You have to have many mental toughness because it ain't going to be easy. And so, I felt like to do it right, you don't want to do it the quick-fix way where we needed to be is that, you know, that we needed to have that time. And so I was fortunate that our administration and Joel and visiting with the president, they felt the same way…
"And I can say that today and I look forward to working with our administration and Joel and the president. And we all know what we need to do, and to be honest with you, a lot of people, we have got to quit talking about how it got there and all of those kind of things. We have to talk about how we are going to fix it, and that's kind of what we've done and that's been part of the situation."
No such thing as a free lunch?
There is if you're a University of Minnesota student. With his contract finally signed, Jerry Kill is already finding ways to give back to those who have been supportive of the Gopher football program this year. The head coach plans to buy lunch and feed University of Minnesota students before this Saturday's game against Iowa.
"I understand the frustration of the people and the fans and so forth," Kill said. "I will say this, though, that our students have been good to me. I've had a situation that was not real good that happened and we have had great support from our students.
"And my wife and I were talking about it, and I said, you know, we play at Nebraska and those kids have been good to us and taking care of us and you know, we are not doing very well. So I said, let's reward them. So we are just going to feed them lunch on game day, and you know, they deserve that.
"We need everybody to help us go this direction, and so I'm that kind of person that whatever it takes, and you know, we certainly appreciate them, I can't tell you the number of kids that come up through my office and, hey, thanks, coach and I'm sitting there, wait a minute, we are 1-5, we are not doing very well, what are you thanking me for, you know.
"So there's some good youngsters at this school, and you know, it's been tough times for them, too. And we want to try to hold them in there and we need them."
Slow but steady progress
Although the overall record of 1-6 and the often large deficit on the score board each Saturday might not indicate progress, head coach Jerry Kill sees a team that keeps improving each week. On Tuesday, Kill singled out some players who have impressed him with their development between the Purdue game and now.
"A guy that stood out that really played much better was Keanon Cooper," Kill said. "And the reason, he's been playing with a big cast on and they cut that thing down and he's healing up. And he had 12 tackles and ran around pretty good. I thought that was a good thing. I thought Aaron Hill did some good things which was positive. He's been injured. You know, Botticelli and Perry and the defensive line, I've seen them grow up a little bit on Saturday.
"Then you know we had some older guys, Collin McGarry, tight end-wise, I watched Ohio State and Wisconsin block the defensive end from Nebraska, their tight end and I would tell you, Collin McGarry did just as good a job as they did if not better. He is really playing good football. If I said somebody that's playing the most consistent football on our offensive team, Collin McGarry. Never says is a word, just goes and plays. He's done a heck of a job and been pleased with him.
"McKnight caught a couple nice balls, made some good plays. I'm really impressed with Devin Crawford-Tufts, we've played him and he's made some good catches. He's got a good body and he's going to be a good player.
"We are getting some good things out of some other players. Derrick Wells, Cedric Thompson, Brock Vereen, they are all underclassmen kids in the secondary, they are learning the hard way somewhat, but they are getting some playing time.
"And then the guy that's really helped us is Kim Royston. He understands, I mean, you know, he's been at Wisconsin, he transferred here, and he's got a good perspective of where we are at. He's kind of like -- he's been great to me. And through this transition, he's like -- and he's having to coach a lot of those young guys on the run, try to help them out."
Recruiting the right fit
Jerry Kill is looking for more than just skill on the football field, he is looking for a specific type of student-athlete to turn around the Gopher program.
"We'll use the same formula that we have used in the past and we'll recruit the best available players that fit the University of Minnesota whether they are a JC kid or a high school player," Kill said. "We have got a pretty good class going right now. We have got to hold them in there, but the bottom line is, is this.
"Like I told our staff today in a meeting, I want a youngster that wants to play, and football is important to him, and so is his education. And I want a tough kid, because you're going to have to be tough, mentally tough, because this thing, you know, you're going to go through some tough times here and you'd better be able to deal with them. If you're not mentally tough probably shouldn't come here.
So, again, that's our responsibility to make sure that we do a good job in recruiting. If we don't do a good job in recruiting, I'm not going to be standing here. I won't make it through those years on contract. We have got to do a good job recruiting and getting the right people in. No different than anybody does. It don't take long, now. You have a couple bad recruiting classes and sometimes you can't recover, for a while, you just don't. So you have to be real careful in what you do.