Gopher football head coach Jerry Kill is sick and tired of talking about his health. But he understands that he's in the public eye as the head coach of a Division I, Big Ten football program. Kill also realizes that as a public figure, he's in a position where talking about his condition and how he's working to overcome it could possibly help others who hear his story.
It is for that reason that Kill sat down for a nearly hour-long interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi after practice Wednesday evening. Rinaldi also spoke with Coach Kill's wife Rebecca and quarterback MarQueis Gray for a piece that will air Saturday morning on ESPN's College GameDay.
The interview focused a great deal on Coach Kill's health, along with the challenges he is facing in building the Minnesota program. But Kill told Rinaldi right out of the gate that much of the reason he agreed to do the interview was to hopefully encourage and inspire others to work past and overcome the obstacles they face in their lives.
From my standpoint as the communications director for the Gopher football program, I was thrilled to get our program the kind of exposure you get from being featured on GameDay. But I also thought Coach Kill might be a little apprehensive about doing the interview. I know that first and foremost, all he wants to do is be a football coach. He wants to devote as much time as he possibly can to righting the ship here at Minnesota.
But after some thought, Coach agreed to do the interview. In my view, it was an opportunity for him to put to rest any speculation about his health having any effect whatsoever on his ability to coach our football team. And he was able to talk about doctors giving him a clean bill of health. But for Coach Kill, it was as much about helping others as anything else. To me, that speaks volumes about the man's character.
I can't say with any certainty how the piece will come out, because I haven't seen the finished, edited product. But I was there for the entire interview and I can't imagine that it won't come off as a real positive for Coach Kill and the Gopher Football program.
Rinaldi put it best, talking with Coach Kill after the interview. Rinaldi told him that he is among the most compelling speakers he has ever interviewed. That's saying something coming from a real pro, a veteran reporter who has done hundreds, perhaps thousands of interviews with some very important people in the world of sports.
As I mentioned above, I was in the room for the entire interview. I will admit that there were two or three times during the interview, Coach Kill stirred enough emotion in me that I had to fight off a tear or two. I can honestly say that I have never worked with someone like Coach Kill. He's the most honest, straight-forward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get person I have ever met.
That's what makes him so good when he talks to people. It doesn't matter if it's a gathering in Willmar or some other Minnesota community from his state-wide tour last summer or if he's doing an interview with a national outlet like ESPN. He simply speaks from his heart and is completely honest.
I haven't received word yet about how long they expect the College GameDay piece to be or what time it will air Saturday morning. But I'm sure Gopher fans will want to tune in and catch what their head coach had to say. If and when I find out, we'll make sure to put the information out via Twitter and other communications channels.