Column: Kill made the right decision, ya feel me?

by Samuel Gordon

I wish the Daily published on Fridays; then I wouldn’t have had to wait so long to weigh in on Jerry Kill’s leave of absence.

It’s old news now, but the Gophers’ third-year head coach stepped away from the team to focus on his epilepsy treatment.

Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague and Kill’s longtime defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys made the announcement last Thursday.

“He has made this decision to try this before, but as he’s felt better, he’s put it off,” Claeys said. “It’s a big step for him.”

And absolutely the right decision.

Kill’s fiery approach to coaching helped get him a Big Ten gig.  He’s as tough-minded as any coach I’ve been around. The fact that he has battled through his condition without missing a game day until now is a marvel in and of itself, especially with all the stress involved in coaching in a power conference.

I’m no doctor, but I know stress is bad for anybody. And it certainly can’t be good for someone with a pre-existing medical condition.

That stress, coupled with the significant local and national media attention surrounding Kill and the program, is more than enough to make this a good call.

Kill’s leave from the team will give him a break from football. A break from the exceedingly long work days. And a break from the public eye.

Kill’s seizures have been a talking point for fans, critics and journalists since his first public seizure in his second game at Minnesota.

He’s had to field questions about his health on and off for the past three years.

Now, that burden will be left to his assistant coaches and his players.

And from the sounds of things, that’s something they’re more than willing to do.

“As a staff, we are all happy that he has made this decision to do this,” Claeys said. “We support him 100 percent, and we will represent him well … for however long it is.”

Neither Teague nor Claeys gave a definitive timetable for Kill’s return.  I’m fine with that.

Kill’s absence against Michigan is tangible proof that he couldn’t meet all of the demands his job requires.

He’s said repeatedly that if he couldn’t coach, he would step away.

Teague was supportive of Kill’s decision at the press conference Thursday, but when asked, he evaded questions about Kill’s long-term future with Minnesota.

“When it comes down to Jerry and his health, trying to move the program forward … that’s all we can rely on right now,” Teague said. “And I’m confident that we’re making the best decisions.”

Because of those decisions, Kill can finally focus on his health and the Gophers can focus on football.

Ya feel me?