After a seizure during a game last September, his fourth since taking over as the University of Minnesota’s football coach in 2011, Kill realized he had to talk about it.
His dealing with epilepsy is also one reason why he wound up speaking on Monday evening at the 400 Supper Club before a couple hundred spectators. Proceeds from the banquet benefited the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
“It’s not something I want to talk publicly about a whole lot,” Kill admitted. “I was trying to make a bad situation and make it a positive.”
Another reason for his rare visit to the area was to grant a wish for 92-year-old Bob Sandberg through My Bucket List, a Central Minnesota non-profit foundation that fulfills the wishes of those facing a terminal illness.
Sandberg, who is under hospice care and lives in St. Cloud, is believed to be the oldest living Gopher football captain. He was captain of the 1946 team.
Kill mentioned Sunday’s lengthy St. Cloud Times story on Sandberg during his talk.
“My resume takes about three sentences,” he said. “I hope when I grow up, I reach all the accomplishments you have.”
Kill said his seizure during a Sept. 14 game against Western Illinois and the reaction to it changed how he dealt with epilepsy.
He has become a spokesman at the urging of Vicki Kopplin, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
“It’s changed my life a whole lot in the past year,” he said, admitting, “I don’t feel comfortable about it.”
After the Sept. 14 seizure, Kill gained national media attention because of a Star Tribune sports column by Jim Souhan that suggested he should be asked to resign. It caused a firestorm of debate.
“I don’t have anything against the guy who wrote it because he probably did more for epilepsy than anybody in the country,” Kill said.
Wide range of topics
Kill’s hour-long speech, which included questions from the audience, touched on numerous topics, from when he was going to lose his Kansas accent (“That’s who I am,” he said as the audience laughed) to his prospects for next year.
“We’ll have a better team next year than we had last year,” Kill said. “But our schedule is a lot tougher next year than it was last year.”
The Gophers went 8-5 in Kill’s third season, making it to their second straight bowl game.
Two to watch
He said that coming off spring practices, two players to watch this season are offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig, a 6-foot-9, 325-pound redshirt sophomore from Blue Earth, and safety Damarious Travis, a junior from Pensacola, Fla. He also said the recruiting class was stronger than last year and is anticipating good things from wide receiver Berkley Edwards, the brother of NFL receiver Brandon Edwards.
He also admitted to being overpaid. His seven-year deal signed in 2011 pays him about $1.1 million annually.
“They pay me a whole lot of money to coach the game of football,” he said.
“It’s crazy, but it’s probably going in the other direction.”
He relayed the story of his daughter, who teaches in the inner city for $29,000. She couldn’t believe his salary, either, he said.
“Dad, that’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?” Kill said his daughter told him. “Yep, you’re right ….
“It’s crazy, but it’s not going to change. It’s going to get bigger and bigger. But I know how it is. If we don’t win the next two or three years, you’re gonna have another speaker here.”
“That’s just how it is.”
Kill, who said he has a commitment each night from now until the end of June, then stayed late to sign autographs for everyone who wanted one.