Kill fires off on former colleague Fleck


By Associated Press

Jerry Kill, former head coach of the University of Minnesota football team, is very angry with current Minnesota coach and former NIU wide receiver PJ Fleck.

Kill worked alongside Fleck from 2007 to 2010 at NIU when Kill led the program with Fleck on staff as a wide receivers coach.

Kill was the coach at Minnesota until mid-way through the 2015 season, when he left the team due to health issues. Fleck later took the head coaching job with the Golden Gophers in 2017.

Kill recently called out Fleck as being “about himself” rather than his players and said that Fleck has changed since working with him in DeKalb.

“[Fleck] coached with me, but after that, you know, he changed a lot; I’ll just be honest with you guys,” Kill said in an interview with A.J. Hawk and Matt Schick of Sirius XM College Sports. “Do I think that he’s about the players? No. He’s about himself.”

The interview has created a rift in Minnesota as the fraternity of head football coaches is being torn. In DeKalb, Kill’s comments should create laughter, as Kill is essentially accusing Fleck of being a college football coach.

“He made it sound like we didn’t know what we were doing,” Kill said.

Kill felt disrespected when Fleck said things at Minnesota were going to change with him at the helm.

“When [Fleck] went into Minnesota and treated the people [and] the way he treated my guys, [he was] telling them he had to go in and completely change the culture, and it was a bad culture and [with] bad people,” Kill said. “You know, he made it sound like we didn’t know what we were doing. And I took it personal.”

Kill is surprised that the culture under Fleck changed, and that it’s not in his image. His supposed winning culture that got Minnesota a 29-29 record under Kill while going 14-21 in the Big Ten Conference.

When Kill refers to the “bad people,” he may not have meant to imply that his hand-picked replacement, former Head Coach Tracy Claeys, was a bad person. 

Nonetheless, it’s hard to see past Claeys’ boycott of the school for suspending 10 players who were accused of having a role in a sexual assault case and saying that Minnesota was a culture of great people. Claeys was fired and Fleck was selected to replaced him.

Even if you put aside all the issues at Minnesota, Kill can’t expect any program to be the same under different head coaches. NIU is a perfect example, as its football program isn’t the same as it was two months ago, let alone since Kill was coach.

Alabama might still be a struggling SEC school had the culture not changed under Head Coach Nick Saban. Why would it be expected that a program stay the same under different leadership?

“I helped him get the job at Western Michigan, and I just think sometimes the ego gets carried away,” Kill said.

While Kill has found post-coaching success as the athletic director at Southern Illinois, he did not directly get Fleck his job.

Fleck became a household name with his “row the boat” mantra while leading Western Michigan to a MAC Championship and the Cotton Bowl in 2016. Kill must feel he’s been slighted by Fleck by not getting any credit for helping him.

Except Fleck did praise Kill upon getting the job at Minnesota, calling himself a “Kill guy,” according to a Feb. 20 article from the Star Tribune.

If there is anyone in this instance that is being exposed for having an ego and a “me” complex, it’s Kill.

“He’s about himself,” Kill said.

This quote might be the most laughable thing from Kill’s interview, except for fans of the 2010 Huskies. Kill ended up at Minnesota when he accepted the job just weeks before NIU was scheduled to play in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl.

Not only did Kill leave before the end of the season, he also forgot to inform his players of the news coming.

Huskies quarterback at the time, Chandler Harnish, told the Daily Chronicle he learned about Kill leaving from text messages while at a team banquet that Kill was attending. Kill was introduced as the head coach at Minnesota less than 12 hours later.

He took most of the Huskies coaching staff with him to Minnesota, thus changing Minnesota’s culture which he now says should have always been there.

Overall, Kill and Fleck are both great coaches, but Kill getting upset with Fleck for taking pages out of his playbook is embarrassing for the former NIU coach. The only thing Fleck has been guilty of, according to Kill’s complaints, is being a college football coach.