MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Here is a good question: During the summer months of camp season, can you teach kids to like football if they don’t? We paid a visit to Jerry Kill’s camp and asked him just that.

What coach Kill has learned in his 30-plus years of coaching college football is this:

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“You can’t play college football unless you love football. It’s different than most sports, it’s not normal to go at each other and run and all the conditioning. Sometimes it’s not a lot of fun, but you can find out who loves football by the way they work,” Kill said.

So in this day and age of competing to keep football numbers up at all levels, he wants his camp to reflect a love for football, with a few laughs.

“I think it’s one of those things you’ve got to have fun. You’ve still got to have fun and enjoy it, and I think we always say you’re wired differently. People say I’m wired differently. I think to play football, I think you just grow up and get introduced to it and you either like it or you don’t. But I think as coaches you’ve got to make it more fun,” Kill said.

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See that’s the challenge of every football coach: Keep it serious and keep it fun.

“Even in our practices I’ll get after a kid a little bit but then I’m laughing with him 10 minutes later,” Kill said. “It’s got to be fun. You look at the good football teams, sometimes on game day we’re too intense. You get too intense and you’re all wired up and tight. You’ve got to be loose and you’ve got to build confidence in these kids. They’ve got to have fun and they have to believe in themselves.”

Kill is coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons with the University of Minnesota football program and consecutive bowl appearances. The Gophers will open up the 2015 season hosting TCU, a team that should be ranked in the top-5 in the country this fall.


Despite coming up one win short of playing for a Big Ten championship, Kill was named the league’s Coach of the Year last season.

Mike Max