Gophers hire NIU coach Kill to lead football team

Kill, who went 23-16 with the Huskies, signed a five-year contract with the Gophers on Sunday.

** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS AUG. 20 - 21 ** Southern Illinois University-Carbondale head football coach Jerry Kill talks with his players following practice on the campus, Carbondale, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005. Kill has lead his football team to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and the Salukis were ranked atop the Division 1-AA for several weeks last year and are again favored to win the conference and vie for their first national title in 22 years. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS AUG. 20 – 21 ** Southern Illinois University-Carbondale head football coach Jerry Kill talks with his players following practice on the campus, Carbondale, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005. Kill has lead his football team to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and the Salukis were ranked atop the Division 1-AA for several weeks last year and are again favored to win the conference and vie for their first national title in 22 years. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

Josh Katzenstein

Jerry Kill will be the next Minnesota head football coach, the athletics department announced Sunday night.

Kill, who signed a five-year contract, has been the head coach at Northern Illinois since 2008, accumulating a record of 23-16 and winning the Mid-American ConferenceâÄôs west division this season. His Huskies beat Minnesota 34-23 on Sept. 25 at TCF Bank Stadium.

The team will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. on Monday at TCF Bank stadium.

Kill takes over for Jeff Horton, who was 2-3 as interim head coach after Tim Brewster was fired Oct. 17 with an overall record of 15-30. Horton helped lead the Gophers to victories over Illinois and Iowa in the final two games of the season.

“It is a tremendous opportunity and âÄî I think âÄî great timing,” Kill said in a release. “I can promise all the people at the University of Minnesota and throughout the entire state that I am going to give them every single ounce that I can give them. I have done that on every job that I have taken. I was raised the old-school way by my father and mother to do my job to the very best of my ability. You go full speed at it and you donâÄôt let anyone out-work you.”

Multiple Gophers players expressed their reactions over Twitter after hearing the reports.

“Already looking forward to meeting Coach Kill to see what [heâÄôs] about,” linebacker Keanon Cooper tweeted. “[W]illing to let him stay in my room since IâÄôm sure heâÄôll need a place lol.”

Defensive lineman D.L. Wilhite wrote: “Whoever the coach is! IâÄôm riding with him as long as he riding with me.”

KillâÄôs Huskies finished the regular season 10-3 and will face Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 18. Kill gave no indication that he wouldnâÄôt be involved with the teamâÄôs bowl game in a post-game press conference Friday.

Kill witnessed the growing frustration of the fan base first hand in his win over the Gophers, with multiple “Fire Brewster” chants during the game.

“I guarantee it tears your guts out when you hear that when you walk off the field,” Kill said after that game. “IâÄôve been coaching this game for about 27 years, and IâÄôve been called a lot of things, but I let it go in one ear and out the other.”

Maturi said he wanted to hire someone with head coaching experience, and Kill certainly fits that description. However, he is 0-2 in bowl games at Northern Illinois, so MaturiâÄôs desire to hire a “Tubby Smith” seems to have fallen short.

Unlike Brewster, who hadnâÄôt coached above the high school level, Kill has been a head collegiate football coach since 1994. Prior to taking the job in Dekalb, Ill., Kill coached Southern Illinois for seven seasons and brought the Salukis to the playoffs (of the Football Championship Series, formerly Division I-AA) in each of his final five seasons.

Before that, Kill coached two Division-II programs. He spent two seasons at Emporia State (Kansas) after leading Saginaw Valley State (Michigan) for five. Northern Illinois finished 2-10 the year before Kill arrived and went 23-16 in his three seasons.

“Whoever they bring on IâÄôm going to support through thick and thin,” football booster club president Bob Hughes said, adding that he wants as many assistant coaches to be retained from this season as possible.

Gophers offensive coordinator Thomas Hammock played running back at Northern Illinois from 1999 to 2002. Hammock also coached the HuskiesâÄô running backs from 2005 to 2006.

Although the two never worked together at Northern Illinois, the Daily Chronicle in Dekalb reported that a source saw Hammock on campus last week.

Kill was not included in many early reports related to the coaching search, but he earns the job ahead of several other reported candidates.

The most notable coach involved during the process was San Diego StateâÄôs Brady Hoke, who met with Maturi in San Diego. Hoke turned down the job, according to several reports.

“I didnâÄôt want to get too excited no matter what,” booster and former player Bob McNamara said. “I guess I just was hoping for the best. Maybe we got somebody pretty good.”

Others are not as supportive of the reported hire. Former defensive end Ben Williams, who went on to play for the Vikings, has been pushing for Maturi to remove himself from the hiring process through SaveGopherFootball.com and seemed shocked by the reports.

“Oh my God. Are you serious?” Johnson said to the news. “I just got off a plane, and thatâÄôs not what I wanted to hear.”

Sophomore MarQueis Gray, KillâÄôs presumed quarterback next season, tweeted “welcome” to Kill. Gray should expect to run a lot next season as the Huskies ran the ball 64.6 percent of the time this season. Quarterback Chandler Harnish had 127 rushing attempts, working primarily out of a shotgun set.

Kill is a completely different coach than Brewster, and seemingly more realistic. During the MAC media day this summer, Kill seemed unfazed by his team being projected to win its division. He said Central Michigan shouldâÄôve been the favorite after winning the league three of the previous four seasons. In Tim BrewsterâÄôs first press conference, he said he would take the Gophers to a Big Ten title.

âÄî Andrew Baker and John Hageman contributed to this report.