University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill did not return to the game against Michigan State this Saturday after he collapsed into a seizure as halftime approached. Kill has a history of seizures. He suffered one on the sideline of the Gophers’ game last year against New Mexico State and another in the TCF Bank Stadium locker room after Minnesota’s loss to Northwestern earlier this year. He was hospitalized after both episodes. Kill was not hospitalized after the current seizure but is instead at home resting, according to sources close to the coach.
Minnesota Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said to the press following the episode:
“I know this will bring up questions about him moving forward, but we have 100-percent confidence in Jerry.”
Kill has never missed a full game due to his seizure disorder. Kill does not like to address his health issues in public.
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys assumed the role of head coach after Kill was taken off the field. Claeys has been Kill’s defensive coordinator for more than 20 years and is familiar with Kill’s disorder. Claeys has been on Kill’s staff since 1995 when he was the defensive line coach for Kill’s Saginaw Valley State team.
Claeys told the press:
“It’s very organized. It’s very structured. When something like this happens, everybody knows their job and what to do. There’s no panic in the staff or the kids or anything. … It’s not a big deal. He’ll be fine.”
Concerns have been expressed by some that Kill’s condition may make it hard for him to recruit players. Perhaps other schools could point to Kill’s health as a red flag. Minnesota does not see it that way. Even though Kill has suffered from this seizure disorder and has beaten cancer, he still has an impressive record of turning around struggling football teams.
“It doesn’t really concern me that much. Regardless of Jerry’s health, we’re making progress in this program. Does it (hurt) the perception of recruiting? I don’t think so. The way that Jerry phrases it . . . it’s something that millions of people deal with. You don’t want to downplay it, but you get to the point where you start realizing that it’s just something that you have to deal with at times. You don’t want to say it’s not that big of a deal, but in a way, it’s easy to deal with in a lot of ways.”
Watch the video of Jerry Kill having a seizure on the field (Caution Disturbing Footage).