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Ferentz, Hawkeyes can relate to Minnesota coach’s health concerns

[ 0 ] September 24, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The members of a football coaching staff must offer more than strategy.

It was true when former Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker battled diabetes. And it was true two weeks ago when Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered an epileptic seizure during a game against Western Illinois.

“We always talk about, there’s no one person more important than the other,” Kill said Tuesday. “There is certainly guys on our staff very capable of doing the job I’m doing.”

Kill was back on the sideline for last weekend’s 43-24 win over San Jose State, and he’s planning to be at TFC Bank Stadium for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. showdown between the Gophers (4-0) and Hawkeyes (3-1).

Kill’s health continues to be a topic of discussion.

Over the past three seasons, he has been unable to finish three different games because of seizures.

That prompted a columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to question whether Kill could handle the duties of being a head coach at a major-college program.

Meanwhile, hundreds of fans showed their support for Kill last week by staging a pregame rally.

“We made a special effort to get down here,” one person told a local television station. “To have coach Kill be a champion and stand up, continue to fight, face the naysayers and move forward. … It’s really an important thing.”

Kill generally takes a pass on talking about himself, but he’s quick to praise his staff.

“We work together,” Kill said. “It’s not a dictatorship. We make decisions together.

“At the end of the day, I’ve got to make the final one. But I think continuity is good for everything.”

Parker was part of coach Kirk Ferentz’s original Iowa staff in 1999. He earned national recognition as a defensive guru, and the respect of his players as he endured multiple amputations and hospital stays.

Parker retired after the 2011 season.

“We’ve been down a similar path, maybe,” Ferentz said of Kill’s situation. “There’s a bond that goes beyond just what you do.

“There has to be, because you spend so many hours together.”

With Parker on board, the Hawkeyes remained a close-knit staff and continued to earn bowl bids.

“I think most of us probably spend a lot more time together than we do with our wives or our families, which is probably true in a lot of professions, but this might go a couple notches beyond,” Ferentz said. “And you go through the highs and lows.”

Kill inherited a 3-9 Minnesota team in 2011 and led the Gophers to the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Kill is supported by nine assistants and a strength coach who have been with him for a combined 124 years – most of any staff nationally.

“We have been together a long time,” he said, “which is a plus when you’re trying to build a program.”

Kill took over a 1-10 Southern Illinois program in 2001, and led the Salukis to a 50-14 record from 2003-07.

Northern Illinois went 2-10 before Kill’s arrival in ’07. The Huskies went 11-3 in 2010.

“To me, it’s a little bit like when Randy Walker went to Northwestern,” Ferentz said. “Pretty much his staff went with him. There’s some real advantages to that.

“Every stop they’ve made they’ve been well coached, and you can see that in their football team right now.”

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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