Gophers’ Head Coach Jerry Kill Was Once A Candidate at Colorado State


Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Kill was not the top choice to be Gophers’ football coach when he was hired in December of 2010, but over his five seasons he has proven to be the right choice. But if things had gone a certain way three years prior to that, Kill may still be coaching the team’s upcoming opponent.

When Sonny Lubick was on his way out as Colorado State’s head coach after the 2007 season, Kill was on a fairly lengthy list of candidates for the job. Then-athletic director Paul Kowalczyk had hired Kill to be head coach at Southern Illinois in 2000, and he was still the head coach there in late-2007, so there was clear ties between school and coach.

Kill said this week that he was never offered the Rams’ job, and he ultimately took the head coaching job at Northern Illinois. After three successful seasons there, with a 23-16 record, Kill landed at Minnesota.

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After passing on Kill and other candidates, Colorado State hired Steve Fairchild to replace Lubick. Fairchild lasted four seasons in the job, with a 7-6 record and a bowl game trip in his first season, but after three straight 3-9 campaigns he was replaced by Jim McElwain. The Rams won 18 games over McElwain’s two seasons at the helm, before his pre-bowl game departure last season to take the job at Florida. New head coach Mike Bobo made the opposite move, from the SEC to the Mountain West, after serving as offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach at Georgia since 2001. In any case, the head coaching job at Colorado State has become fairly desirable in recent years.

Ultimately, Colorado State’s loss was Minnesota’s gain. Kill seems to have his past health issues under control, and he has brought respectability back to the Gophers’ football program. The next step is being able to compete with the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, most notably chief rival Wisconsin and defending national champion Ohio State. But with Kill and his loyal staff patrolling the sideline, that does not seem as far away as it did when Tim Brewster was head coach.