Aug 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill waves to fans after beating the UNLV Rebels at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 51-23. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
One thing that’s become clear two weeks into Jerry Kill’s indefinite leave is that the third-year Gophers head coach can’t stay away from football, even when he’s supposed to be resting.
Interim head coach Tracy Claeys said on Tuesday that Kill is expected to attend the Gophers home game against Nebraska this Saturday as a spectator.
Kill was a “spectator” last Saturday when Minnesota defeated Northwestern on the road. His half-time speech boosted the Gophers out of a 7-7 tie en route to a 20-17 victory in Evanston.
Aside from gameday appearances, Kill has also been around the office during his time-off, according to Claeys. Kill’s defensive coordinator also said to expect Kill at a practice in the near future.
One more thing is for sure: If Kill wants to take back the saddles, no one would stand in his way. But when will he return to lead his team out of the tunnel?
With five games remaining on the schedule, the question becomes whether or not he returns this season. As the Gophers need only one more win to become bowl eligible, it would be surprising if Kill doesn’t return by season’s end.
Without speculating how Kill has been doing health-wise, it seems that he is slowly reassuming his position with the Gophers, as he’s been around the team more each week.
As for a specific date, a return to the sidelines on Nov. 9 at home against Penn State is a fair estimate, but so is the following week, when the Badgers come to TCF Bank Stadium.
Specific games aside, Kill’s return could be based off Minnesota’s record. If the Gophers get win six either against Nebraska or at Indiana, Kill could rest comfortably until December. If the Gophers can’t get the elusive sixth win, then he returns against Wisconsin and tries to coach the Gophers to one more win either against the Badgers or the Michigan State Spartans the following week.
For a man who can’t stay away from football, even when he’s ill, there’s little chance Kill won’t coach against this season. And with the Gophers in the drivers seat to go back to a bowl game, Kill will return to triumph and hopefully a bowl berth to top it off.