Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill’s seizure problems returned Saturday, hospitalizing the coach shortly after he gave his postgame press conference following a 21-13 loss to Northwestern.
Kill met with the media and answered questions for about 10 minutes after the game, looking healthy and strong. But moments after returning to the locker room, school officials said he had another seizure.
Team medical staff attended to him immediately, and an ambulance arrived at TCF Bank Stadium quickly after the seizure. Kill was taken to a hospital, where he was alert and resting comfortably, according to a news release issued by the school about two hours after the game.
University officials ”do not anticipate further information on coach Kill’s condition being available Saturday night, but are hopeful about being able to provide an update on Sunday,” the release said.
It was still too early to tell if Kill would be available to coach next week at Wisconsin, but the hard-nosed coach has taken pride in not letting his condition keep him off the sideline in the past.
It’s latest in a long line of problems with seizures for Kill. He suffered several of them last season in his first year at Minnesota, most notably on the sideline during a loss to New Mexico State in September. Kill returned in time to coach the next game and Gophers doctors said they would concentrate on keeping him hydrated and monitoring his medications to keep a handle on the issue.
During a one-week period later in September last year, Kill estimated he had 10 to 20 more and went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to seek treatment. Doctors were able to get him on a program that had been successful at keeping the seizures at bay.
Kill also had seizures on game day in 2001 and 2005, the latter occurring afterward in his office, while he was coaching Southern Illinois and had another while taping a show in 2006 and beat kidney cancer earlier in his coaching career.
”When you have a situation where you go down and go unconscious, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” Kill said last year, ”until you come conscious, then you get up and go to practice.”
He didn’t miss any games for the Gophers because of seizures last season and appeared to be doing just fine through the first six games this year until Saturday.
”The reality of this disorder is this is a common problem,” Dr. Pat Smith said, the university’s physician, said last year. ”People live normal lifestyles with this.”
Of course, being a college football coach in the Big Ten is hardly a normal lifestyle. The long hours, high stress and poor diet that can be associated with the job may be contributing to Kill’s problem, doctors have said.
That hasn’t stopped Kill in the past from getting right back out there.
”What the hell am I supposed to do? Stop? I mean, sit in the chair and wait for the next dang seizure to come along?” Kill said last year.
It’s the latest bit of adversity for the Gophers, who started the season 4-0 to generate optimism among the program’s long-suffering fans that a bowl game could be had. But they were thumped 31-13 at Iowa in the Big Ten opener, then delivered a sloppy and mistake-filled performance in the loss to the Wildcats on Saturday to fall to 0-2 in the conference.