Kill handling transition well

** 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 is beginning to feel comfortable in Minnesota, and if SaturdayâÄôs menâÄôs basketball game was any indication, Gophers fans are starting to take a liking to the new football coach. Kill received a standing ovation from the estimated 5,000 people who braved the blizzard to watch the Gophers beat Eastern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. âÄúYou always want to be at a place where thereâÄôs passion,âÄù Kill said. âÄúEven though some people are frustrated and those kind of things, and rightfully so, they care, and IâÄôm excited about being around a great institution that cares.âÄù Kill, who watched the basketball game with quarterback MarQueis Gray, linebacker Keanon Cooper and some recruits, admitted his life has been hectic since being named the 27th football coach on Dec. 5. However, he said the people around the program have made it an easier transition than when he took the same job at Northern Illinois in December 2007. That doesnâÄôt mean the people will stay as pleasant if Kill canâÄôt improve a team that finished 3-9 in 2010 and went 15-30 under Tim Brewster. To make that happen, KillâÄôs top priority has been recruiting, he said. Kill reportedly met this week with Mahtomedi offensive lineman Tommy Olson, Edina receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts and Holy Family Catholic linebacker Peter Westerhaus. All are three-star recruits, according to Rivals.com, that have already committed to the Gophers. âÄúThe big thing is making sure we take care of âĦ our commitments in the state first, then weâÄôll go from there,âÄù Kill said, adding that he plans to travel around the country soon. Next on the agenda is filling his coaching staff, something Kill has already begun to do. On Friday, Minnesota announced that offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will both follow Kill and fill those roles for the Gophers. Both coaches have been on KillâÄôs staff for at least 12 years. Kill said Saturday he plans to have the rest of his staff decided in the next four to five days. âÄúWeâÄôre going to be very cautious,âÄù Kill said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to make the right decisions, whatâÄôs best for the University of Minnesota.âÄù The Gophers are actually fortunate that the Huskies lost the Mid-American Conference title game earlier this month under Kill. With the loss, Northern Illinois will play in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 18 while MAC champion Miami (Ohio) wonâÄôt play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl until Jan. 6. Kill is waiting to see whether his linebacker coach and Huskies interim head coach Tom Matukewicz will become the next head coach at Northern Illinois. Kill, Limegrover and Claeys will all miss the HuskiesâÄô bowl game. âÄúItâÄôs a unique situation,âÄù Kill said of missing the Huskies final game. âÄúI love those kids. I would not be here if it wasnâÄôt for those kids, so it is very difficult but itâÄôs just the way things have worked out. ItâÄôs difficult, but those kids understand.âÄù