Good friends to face off at TCU

Gophers head coach Jerry Kill was part of TCU head coach Gary Patterson’s wedding party.

Head coach Jerry Kill waits for a call in between plays on Saturday, Sept. 6 against Middle Tennessee at TCF Bank Stadium.

Image by Amanda Snyder

Head coach Jerry Kill waits for a call in between plays on Saturday, Sept. 6 against Middle Tennessee at TCF Bank Stadium.

by Jack Satzinger

Just a handful of years ago, Jerry Kill stood next to Gary Patterson on an altar as his best man.

On Saturday, they’ll stand on opposite sidelines as head coaches, trying to beat each other as the Gophers take on Texas Christian University.

“I promise you, he worked on us all spring. So I know how he does that with opponents and how he does preparation,” Kill said. “That’s what makes him so good.”

When Kill and Patterson face off in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, they’ll be toting very similar defenses.

Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys used to regularly watch Patterson’s teams practice, picking up defensive tips. Claeys said he’s learned “close to 90 percent” of his defensive philosophies from Patterson.

“He’s as good a defensive coach as there is in the country, and I think everybody knows that,” Kill said.

Patterson and Kill never coached together, but they both learned the game’s principles under Dennis Franchione at Pittsburg State.

Kill left Franchione’s staff after the 1987 season for the head coaching job at nearby Webb City High School. Patterson joined Franchione’s staff in 1988. The pair became acquaintances and talked football on a normal basis, developing a bond beyond the gridiron.

“We shared ideas and just got to be friends through that and stayed friends,” Kill said.

After a stint as defensive coordinator, TCU named Patterson head coach in 2000. He offered Kill a job as offensive coordinator, but Kill took the head coaching job at Southern Illinois.

“Anybody would be better off if they had a Jerry Kill on their staff,” Patterson said in a conference call.

While Patterson once wanted Kill to run his offense, now the pair uses vastly different offensive schemes.

Minnesota methodically pounds the ball, ranking third in the Big Ten in rushing offense so far this year.

While the Gophers overpower teams in the trenches, TCU’s Horned Frogs have new offensive coordinators who have launched a no-huddle offense that spreads the field.

TCU passed for 355 yards in its 48-14 season-opening victory over Samford.

“They’re going to put four wide receivers out there, most of them former track players that ran awfully well in the state of Texas,” Claeys said.

Going up against an explosive offense and disciplined defense on the road will “no doubt” be the most challenging nonconference game for the Gophers since 2011, Kill said.

But it might be even harder for the loser to walk across the sideline to tell his best friend “good game” after the contest.

“Both of us are highly competitive, so this week’s probably difficult. We had long conversations about whether to have this series,” Patterson said. “I don’t think friends like to play friends any time.”