Coach Patterson’s choice: Jerry Kill

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AP

TCU coach Gary Patterson left, shakes hands with Minnesota coach Jerry Kill after an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Minneapolis. TCU won 23-17. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

By JD Pells

The man in the visor and khakis won’t be on the sidelines this Saturday but his first choice will: Jerry Kill.

Since deciding to leave the team mid-season, former TCU head coach Gary Patterson asked Kill to take over as interim coach.

Kill has been with TCU football since 2020, when he said he grabbed a chance to “finish out my career with my best friend,” Kill said at the time.

He wasn’t exaggerating — Kill was the best man at Patterson’s wedding.

The longtime friends have a lot in common. Patterson and Kill grew up two hours apart in small towns in Kansas, played college football in Kansas and started their coaching careers in Kansas as defensive coordinators under the same coach and at the same school.

The two crossed paths at Pittsburg State University in Kansas in 1988. Patterson had taken over Kill’s position as the linebacker coach at the time. Both Kill and Patterson picked up the iconic 4-2-5 defensive scheme from the then Pittsburg State head coach Dennis Franchione, reported ESPN.

The difference between the two was that Patterson focused on coaching defense and Kill focused on offense.

Kill became the head coach of the University of Minnesota Gophers starting in 2011.

It was reported they wanted no part in playing each other even though TCU played Minnesota in 2014 and 2015. “He didn’t want to do it. Neither did we,” Kill said at the time.

Kill stepped away from the locker room because of health reasons related to epilepsy midway through the 2015 season.

Since then, Kill has bounced around various universities:

  • Associate Athletic Director at Kansas State;
  • Director of Athletics at Southern Illinois;
  • Offensive Coordinator at Rutgers;
  • Special Assistant to the Head Coach at Virginia Tech and TCU.

In 2020, Kill joined the TCU coaching staff with the title of assistant to the head coach but was referred to by Patterson as the “head coach of the offense.”

Kill said it was emotional dealing with the departure of Patterson from the program during Tuesday’s press conference in which he stood in the same spot Patterson would stand.

“[Players] were crushed at first,” Kill said. Nonetheless, Kill said it’s been his goal to carry on as much as possible with “regular business.”

While his time as TCU head coach may be short, the veteran coach is focused on buckling down on the task at hand. “Roll up your sleeves and go to work,” Kill said, was the message.

TCU has four games left in the season and a sliver of hope at a bowl game.

Radiating confidence in his press conference, the 60-year-old Kill said, “I’ve done it a long time.”


Who is Jerry Kill?

Kill’s track record in college football spans over three decades.

Unlike many head coaches, Kill had not taken an assistant position at a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school on his way up the ranks of becoming an FBS head coach.

He secured his first head coaching job at Division II Saginaw Valley State University in 1994, where his teams were regarded for offensive prowess in the D-II landscape. Kill returned home to Kansas to coach at Divison II Emporia State from 1999 until 2000.

In 2000, Patterson invited Kill to work alongside him in Fort Worth, but Kill chose to stay as head coach of Emporia State instead, reported the Pioneer Press.

After Emporia State, Kill took on the task of leading a struggling Division I-AA program in Southern Illinois to four consecutive winning seasons. Kill was the first head coach to do so for the program and was decorated as the FCS Eddie Robison National Coach of the Year in 2004 as well as the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.

Kill’s next stop was a two-year stint at Northern Illinois University. Before his first season, the team was ranked in ESPN’s bottom 10 for worst Division I FBS programs, but Kill ended up bringing his 2008 team to a bowl game in his first season as head coach. In 2010, he earned the Grant Teaff FCA Coach of the Year Award.

Kill left NIU in 2010 for a head coaching position at the University of Minnesota. In his four and a half years as head coach, he brought the Gophers to three bowl games.

His best season at Minnesota was in 2014. The Gophers started a historic 2014 season with a record of 5-1 — its only loss coming from a beatdown courtesy of TCU.

Minnesota finished the 2014 regular season with a record of 8-5, enough to earn them a spot in the Citrus Bowl for its first New Year’s Day game since 1962. The results also won Kill the consensus 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

Kill battled with health issues — some of which were related to epilepsy — for much of his coaching career.

Kill missed portions of several games in his run with Minnesota because of recurring seizures, and in the middle of the 2015 season, he decided to step away from head coaching.

Kill’s total college record is 152-99, though he has yet to win a bowl game as head coach, with a composite bowl record of 0-5.