5 x 8: Can Jerry Kill be a coach?


The world is full of inspiring stories of people overcoming obstacles to live independently in a world that favors the “normal” and “healthy.” The stories teach us.

Jerry Kill could be one of those stories on a campus that’s in the business of teaching and inspiring young people. But he makes his living in a business that’s about making other people feel better about themselves by winning football games and he probably won’t get the chance.

Kill suffered another epileptic seizure at halftime of the University of Minnesota’s football game on Saturday and the vultures are circling. The Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan writes that he has to go:

The face of your program can’t belong to someone who may be rushed to the hospital at any moment of any game, or practice, or news conference. No one who buys a ticket to TCF Bank Stadium should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground. This is not how you compete for sought-after players and entertainment dollars.

What’s odd here is that Souhan said nothing when Rick Adelman, coach of the Timberwolves, took weeks off from work last season because his wife was having seizures.

Is it possible a coach can be sick and still be a good and inspiring coach?

In Aberdeen, South Dakota a few years ago, Don Meyer, a former Hamline coach, passed Bobby Knight for most collegiate basketball victories. He did it while in a wheelchair; he’d lost his leg in an accident. He also did it with liver cancer.


When he was in Houston last season for a bowl game, a boy asked a question of Kill at an event.

“I have epilepsy,” the boy said. “Do you think I’ll ever have a girlfriend?”

A lot of healthy people have proven they can’t coach at the University of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Kill’s coaches and players shook it off and — since they were coached to do so — carried on without him on Saturday.

“They handled it great,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. “They did not panic at halftime and played very well in the second half. Defensively, this is the first time since I have been here that we have been able to pin teams deep and keep them there.”

We’re not used to seeing the struggle against epilepsy that talented people fight. Maybe it makes us uncomfortable.

Gregg Doyel, a CBS national columnist says that should be enough of Kill.

Kill is doing good work for Minnesota football, and for epilepsy patients, and I’m thinking about that as I write this.

But I’m also thinking about everyone else in the stadium the next time Kill has a seizure during a game, whether it’s at home or on the road. People die from epileptic seizures. It’s called Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), and according to EpilepsyFoundation.org it happens to about one in 1,000 epilepsy sufferers per year. But the odds go way up for people who, like Kill, have more frequent seizures — as high as one in 150 people.

Could Jerry Kill be that one in 150? Gosh I hope not. You hope nobody dies from epilepsy ever again, but denial doesn’t do any good. People really do die every year from epileptic seizures, and Jerry Kill really does have multiple seizures every year, and his seizures really do seem to be increasing in frequency, exacerbated by the stress of coaching a Big Ten football team on game day.

That’s Jerry Kill’s job. But should it be? I’m not asking for him. Apparently he’s decided what’s best for him, and that’s his right.

But what about what’s best for everyone else?

What about it?


As promised, Aaron J. Brown, who writes Minnesota Brown, delivered his prescription for what ails northern Minnesota.

There is no economic alternative to mining, supporters of copper and mineral mining on the Iron Range say. But Brown says it’s unlikely the people promising environmental stewardship while extracting minerals will be the same ones who are in charge when the mines eventually close; that’s not the way the mining business works these days, he says.

He acknowledges, though, that the environmental processes being proposed by Polymet, which wants to dig near the Boundary Waters, could be game changing.

His solution?

Only we can save the Iron Range 21st Century. Stop waiting for the mines, or complaining about them. All Iron Range mental, emotional and financial resources should be dedicated to streamlining education into innovative fields.

Every Iron Range resident should be called upon directly to pursue community improvement, whether through volunteerism, organizing, investment or simple beautification. We must come in out of the woods, out of our internal worlds to give something tangible to our sense of place.

Yes, many give countless hours and dollars already, but that hasn’t been enough. We will find that a little bit more from all of us would go further. We can’t wait for the same folks, the same institutions to bail us out again. Some of our greatest community servants are literally elderly, giving more of themselves than they should have to. Others must step up now.

We must encourage the arts, new businesses, and independent workers who would benefit from living in a beautiful, affordable place. Our infrastructure must match this goal — developing our towns (not our outskirts of town), expanding internet affordability and availability across the region.

We must welcome others, because the Iron Range of the future will be populated by people whose great-grandparents came from Maplewood or Mexico, not necessarily Montenegro.

“Put your life where you mouth is,” Brown says to the city slickers who are opposing expanded mineral mining in the area, “and move here.”


There is no longer any competition for Husband of the Year. It’s Larry Swilling of South Carolina who walked the streets with a signboard when his wife’s health was failing and she needed a kidney.

She got a kidney.

“He wouldn’t have stopped ’til he got me one,” his wife said.

Last January, I told you about another man who was begging for a kidney — this time in Oregon. I haven’t been able — yet — to find out how that turned out. The Facebook page — Earl Needs A Kidney — has been taken down.

This would be an appropriate day to sign up to be an organ donor.


Polls are only muddying the water when it comes to understanding America.

Here’s an example:

A poll over the weekend says more than anything else, Americans are worried about getting access to health care.

A poll out this morning says the plurality of those surveyed are either strongly or somewhat opposed to the so-called Obamacare plan.


It appeared to be a long line of Minnesotans heading to Chicago over the weekend, and not to watch the woeful Vikings. The Replacements were playing their second show since getting back together.

The Current’s Andrea Swensson writes it was as special as the Toronto appearance two weeks ago.

But what the ‘Mats proved tonight, at their second of three Riot Fest gigs is that they continue to capture and channel the wry, irreverent, and searing energy that made them such a legendary band to begin with.

Though the crowd wasn’t quite as intimate or insane as the one in Toronto (which was only about a quarter of the size of Chicago’s fest), the band demonstrated that their debut reunion gig wasn’t some kind of crazy fluke.

In fact, their Chicago set was even looser and rowdier, at times almost completely unraveling, and it was downright exhilarating watching them ride the rails and drive the performance forward with an unbridled momentum.

Bonus I:
An interesting coincidence over the weekend. At roughly the same time that local pal Chuck Olsen was taking a picture of the Badlands…

So was Karen Nyberg, the Minnesota native aboard the International Space Station…

Incidentally, the space station’s orbit takes it over Minnesota in the morning this week: Tomorrow at 5:15 am (in the Twin Cities), twice on Wednesday (4:28 and 6:01), Thursday at 5:15 am and twice on Friday (4:28 and 6:01).

Bonus II: The look of Sioux Falls. A guide to the architecture. (James Fallows)

Bonus III: Rise of Hastings’ new bridge, fall of old one pictured daily (TwinCities.com)

Does Minnesota need a higher minimum wage?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: A discussion on whether the Minnesota gasoline tax should be increased.

Second hour: Rethinking senior communities and housing.

Third hour: At the end of this academic year, seniors at colleges and universities across the country will begin taking a new test aimed at assessing the skills they learned throughout their college career. Advocates of the assessment say this test will allow potential employers to look beyond a student’s GPA to see if they are prepared for a job. Critics say this “one-size-fits-all” approach to assessing “value added” during college years is a flawed way to truly assess graduates.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, Art Rolnick and others speaking about how to have a thriving innovation economy.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – The Takeaway bike challenge opens this morning.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Melissa Block launches a week of stories from Brazil. Will the country be ready for next years World Cup? “Without a doubt” says one official from Northeastern Brazil.