Column: Kill was right choice for coach of the year

David Nelson

In just four seasons, head coach Jerry Kill has turned the football program in a new direction. Last week, he won Big Ten Coach of the Year for his efforts.

Though the Gophers probably should have played in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game rather than act as spectators, Kill more than earned the honor as the conference’s best coach.

Still, many pundits said Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was more deserving.

The Buckeyes impressively went 11-1 in the regular season and took home the Big Ten championship in dominating fashion Saturday, defeating Wisconsin 59-0.

While Meyer’s resume this season certainly reflects that of one of the best coaches in the conference, his accomplishments with the Ohio State program don’t come close to what Kill has done this season.

To even the most average of football fans, it’s doubtful anyone would be shocked to hear about the Buckeyes performing so well during this season.

In its previous 10 seasons, Ohio State went to two national championship games and won six Big Ten championships.

The Buckeyes’  success isn’t all that surprising.

What is eye-catching, however, is that Ohio State’s victory over Minnesota is considered a quality victory on the Buckeyes’ college football playoff resume.

When Kill took over as head coach four years ago, the Gophers were the laughingstock of the Big Ten.

Minnesota finally rid itself of former head coach Tim Brewster, a man who promised massive improvements for the program and produced some of the Gophers’ most uninspired teams.

When Minnesota hired Kill, he honestly told the media and fans in his introductory press conference that the process of resurrecting the program would require time.

Their patience paid off, and Kill produced a team this season that fell just half a game short of a trip to the Big Ten championship game.

The Gophers made themselves one of the conference’s most feared teams and surpassed pundits’ expectations of another bottom-half finish in the Big Ten West.

While they might not boast a better record than Ohio State this season, Minnesota produced one of the program’s best seasons in recent memory.

This year proved to be a coming-out party for the Gophers as they showcased their incredibly stout defense and an aggressive and talented rushing attack.

The combination allowed them to take home eight victories over the course of the season, and the team will look for its ninth with a bowl game on tap.

With its tough and resilient style of play, Minnesota could find itself with its first bowl victory this season in a decade. And it’s all thanks to Kill.