Gophers football head coach Jerry Kill retiring immediately

'This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.'

- Minnesota football head coach Jerry Kill announced on Wednesday that he is retiring for health reasons effective immediately. Assistant head coach Tracy Claeys has been named interim head coach. At an emotional press conference Wednesday, Kill said his doctors advised him to retire from football for the sake of his long-term health. 

"I’ve never listened to a doctor. And when I had cancer, I was cut open and was on the road recruiting in 5 days. But I’m going to listen this time. Because that gal, and my two kids, my brother and my mom -- they need me more down the road."

Kill, 54, said this July he hadn't suffered a seizure in over a year and a half. He was diagnosed in 2005 while coaching at Southern Illinois.

"I don't have anymore energy. None. I've left it all here in the great state of Minnesota and I have no regrets."

Kill fought through the 2014 season after he had a seizure on the sidelines Sept. 14 at halftime while facing Western Illinois. On Oct. 5, another seizure kept him from traveling to Michigan, and he took a short leave for treatment. 

"We don’t know what we’re gonna do. That’s in the Big Man’s hand. I don't have a clue. I’ve had a bomb dropped on me."

Claeys served as the Gophers' acting head coach for 7 games of the 2013 season when Kill took a leave of absence to focus on his epilepsy treatment. The Gophers went 4-3 under Claeys, with wins against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. Claeys has worked with Jerry Kill for 21 years.

Kill was named Minnesota's head coach on Dec. 7, 2010 and followed the same steady pattern on improvement he showed at Northern Illlinois and Southern Illinois. The Gophers won 8 games in both 2013 and 2014, which marked only the 5th time since 1906 that Minnesota won 8 games in consecutive seasons. 

The 4-3 Gophers will face Michigan on Saturday.

Jerry Kill's career coaching statistics

.605 Winning percentage as a collegiate head coach

1 National Championship. Won as offensive coordinator at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University in 1991

1 Big Ten Coach of the Year (Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year and Dave McClain Coach of the Year) at Minnesota in 2014

2 Mid-American Conference Vern Smith Leadership Award (MVP) winners in three years at NIU

3 National Coach of the Year honors. 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, 2004 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, 2014 Tom Lemming Coach of the Year

3 Bowl-eligible teams in three seasons at Northern Illinois University. 2008 Independence Bowl; 2009 International Bowl; 2010 Humanitarian Bowl

3 Bowl-eligible team in four seasons at Minnesota. 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl; 2013 Texas Bowl; 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

4 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honors. 2003 and 2004 at Southern Illinois, 2013 and 2014 at Minnesota

5 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoff appearances as head coach at Southern Illinois University

6 NFL Draft picks in his tenure at Minnesota

7 First-team All-Big Ten selections in his tenure at Minnesota

10 First-team All-MAC selections in his three-year tenure at Northern Illinois

15 Winning seasons (out of 21) as a collegiate head coach

156 Career victories 

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