PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — A little more than a year after walking away from the head coaching job at Minnesota because of his health, Jerry Kill is coming back to college football.
Kill on Monday was named the offensive coordinator at Rutgers and handed the challenge of rebuilding what might have been the worst offense in the Big Ten Conference.
The 55-year-old Kill is coming to his new job 25 pounds lighter, taking less medication for his epilepsy and ready to help Chris Ash rebuild a Scarlet Knights program that went 2-10 last season, losing its last nine games, all in the conference.
“In coaching, you never have a chance to get something fixed or get it under control because you can’t take time off to do that,” Kill said after being introduced at his new job. “I needed some time to get it situated and see the right people and get on the right diet and get on the right regime and be able to get healthy.”
Kill had served as the associate athletics director for administration at Kansas State since May. His role was the chief administrator for the university’s football program, and in that role he worked 12-13 hour days, attending practice daily.
“I’m a football coach. I’m a ball coach,” Kill said. “That’s who I am. I enjoy kids. I enjoy that process. I’m a lot smarter than I was a year ago, but more importantly I’ve been seizure-free for a long time and this is the best I’ve felt over 12 years.”
Kill will replace Drew Mehringer, who left after one season to join Tom Herman’s staff at Texas.
In his search for a new coordinator, Ash was looking for an experienced coach who was a leader and developer of coaches and players. He also wanted someone with character that could connect with the players and someone who was compatible with him.
“Coach Kill is an absolute ball coach,” Ash said. “Doesn’t have a lot of other hobbies, likes and interests. It’s all about coaching ball and developing the players.”
The Big Ten Conference coach of the year in 2014, Kill will also coach the Scarlet Knights’ quarterbacks. He said Rutgers will continue to run the spread offense.
Kill said that he and Ash talked about football during a recent meeting in Mahattan, Kansas and found they had a lot in common.
“I didn’t have to have a job, and I wasn’t looking for a job,” Kill said. “But I said if it was a perfect fit for me, I would get back in the game and I wanted it to be perfect. This is a perfect fit for Coach Kill.”
Kill had has had winning seasons in 15 of his 22 years as a college head coach. He most recently coached at Minnesota, from 2011-2015, where he guided the Gophers to three bowl games in four and a half seasons, including the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in 2014. It marked the first Jan. 1 bowl game for Minnesota since 1962.
“I’m kind of a program builder,” Kill said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life, the last 22 years of college coaching and even in high school. That’s what I’m used to and I love challenges. I don’t ever worry about who we play. I worry about how we play. If we do the right things and do a good job of teaching kids and so forth, we control a lot of outcomes.”
Minnesota won eight games in 2013 and 2014, which marked only the fifth time since 1906 that Minnesota won eight games in consecutive seasons. The 2014 offense ranked 12th nationally in passing yards per completion (14.52), 28th in rushing offense (215.5), 29th in sacks allowed (1.62) and 32nd in red zone offense (.878).
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