They say that success breeds success, but Minnesota football has been a testament to mediocrity breeding mediocrity. The Big Ten has been used to seeing Minnesota flounder in its own mediocrity for the past 3 decades. John Gutekunst tried to live up to what Lou Holtz started, and fell well short. Jim Wacker was all jeezo-beezo but no substance on the field when he showed up from TCU. And Grinnin' Glen Mason was happy to tell us that here in Minnesota we couldn't compete on the recruiting trail with the likes of OSU & Michigan (a fact that all Gophers fans know, but don't need to hear from their head coach).
Enter (insert your favorite nickname here) Tim Brewster. Rose Bowls this, Big Ten Championships that. He encouraged players and fans to get their dad'gum chili hot, and told them that if they wanted "some" they better bring "some."
As it turned out Tim's chili was mild and we never quite understood what we were supposed to be bringing. We wanted some, but Tim Brewster brought bupkis.
Now here's Jerry Kill. Exactly the kind of coach that Minnesota probably needed, but what can we actually expect? It's clearly very early to begin answering this question, but in the interactions and press conferences that Jerry Kill has had with media and players (present and past) Big Ten fans can glean some things about what we can expect.
Although Jerry Kill hasn't coached at the highest level of college football, he has head coaching experience going way back and he's moved up the ladder in college football because he's won games wherever he went. He got the Gopher coaching job because of his resume, not because of a jar of snake-oil that he was able to sell to Joel Maturi. Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, and of course Northern Illinois. Compare that to the head coaching experience of Tim Brewster... (crickets).
We learned after a couple of years watching Brewster lead the Gophers that he understood recruiting, but maybe not much else. He increased the talent level at Minnesota while still wallowing in mediocrity... a term that is probably generous. Tim Brewster did a great job selling the Minnesota program to recruits, but once they were in the fold he didn't no what to do with them. Not an X's & O's guy.
On the other hand there's Jerry Kill. This guy babbled more football knowledge off the cuff in his opening press conference than Tim Brewster crapped out in 4 years. This guy knows X's & O's. He talked about the kind of offense he runs, how he approaches the game, and what he expects of players and didn't make a single idle promise.
In his opening press conference Jerry Kill gave us this gem: "I'm an aggressive coach. I don't know if it's good or bad, maybe it's fearless, but hey, it's third down and 3 and they're gonna put nine in the box; let's run play-action and try to stroke the post."
I'm not sure I really even know what that means, but I love it. He also said "jiminy christmas" in his opening presser. You have to like this guy. I just hope we get more of this folksy talk after W's.
Another thing that we haven't seen around here in a long time, maybe ever. Jerry Kill's o-coordinator, Matt Limegrover has coached under Kill since 2001, as has WR's coach Pat Poore. Tight End coach Rob Reeves has coached under Kill since the 90's. People stick with him, they know him, he knows them, and they win because of it.
Jerry Kill has already said that MarQueis Gray is the Gophers starting QB, and a big reason for that is that he happens to fit Kill's offense incredibly well. But even if he didn't fit Jerry Kill's offense, saying MarQueis Gray is your QB is just a smart move. Tim Brewster was constantly over-thinking the QB situation at Minnesota... a fact that certainly lead to his downfall.
Kill's offense requires an athletic QB who can both throw and run when needed... NIU's Chandler Harnisch averaged 186 yards passing and over 60 yards rushing per game.
Who knows how long any of these things will take to manifest themselves. It's obviously a brand new situation for the Gopher players. But Kill brings experience and respect to a position that has been lacking it for the last four years and as his influence permeates the team, hopefully the Gophers will make the Big Ten stand up and notice.