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Zulgad’s Roundup: Former Gophers coach thinks he won’t get a warm welcome back to Minnesota

Syndication: Las Cruces Sun-News
Jerry Kill, the new NMSU football coach, accepts a football helmet as the New Mexico State Aggies face off against the University of New Mexico Lobos at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Kill 3

Jerry Kill didn’t approve of how his former defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was treated when athletic director Mark Coyle fired him as the Gophers’ coach in 2017 and everyone knows Kill doesn’t like current coach P.J. Fleck. But it’s still odd how Kill attempts to spin his past in Minnesota, given the fact he was well liked during his time here and only left because he was dealing with epilepsy and other health issues.

Kill was named coach of New Mexico State this week and will lead his team into Huntington Bank Stadium next Sept. 1 for the Gophers’ season opener. Asked about that game at his introductory press conference, Kill said:

“You don’t think I haven’t had a million text messages about that? I’ll get booed out of the stadium, probably. I don’t know. It’ll be interesting. I had several people let me know we’re playing Minnesota. I did not know that when I took the job, but we’ll go up there and get to go back in that stadium.”

Kill said nearly five years ago that, “I won’t be stepping a foot back in that stadium,” after Claeys was fired. Kill grew more upset when Fleck talked about changing the culture within the Gophers program after he took the job. Fleck had been an assistant under Kill in 2008 and 2009 at Northern Illinois, making the comments more personal.

The feud between Kill and Fleck is one thing, and if Kill doesn’t like Coyle that’s also not surprising. But for him to think he is going to get “booed out of the stadium,” by Gophers fans is downright odd. Kill helped turn around the program after Tim Brewster’s embarrassing stint and fans responded very positively to Kill. Remember, the Jerrysota T-shirts?

Kill led the Gophers to their first New Year’s Day bowl game since 1962, and when doctors advised him to step away from coaching during the 2015 season, there was an outpouring of sympathy and support. If Kill thinks he will be returning to Minnesota as some type of villain, he’s either going to be pleasantly surprised or really disappointed, if he wanted to hear the boos.

  • The Vikings finally got some good news on the injury front Wednesday when nose tackle Michael Pierce (elbow) was cleared to return after a three-game stint on injured reserve. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Nov. 23, also could return for Sunday’s game against Detroit, if he is cleared. Pierce hasn’t played since he had to leave a game in early October against Cleveland after initially being injured in a practice.
  • K.J. Osborn, who has emerged as the Vikings’ third wide receiver, had 28 catches (on 38 targets) for 321 yards and two touchdowns in the first seven games. In the past four, Osborn has only three receptions (on nine targets) for 44 yards and no touchdowns. The win over the Chargers on Nov. 14 was the first game in which Osborn did not have a catch this season.
  • With Byron Buxton’s seven-year, $100 million contract being made official on Wednesday, Twins general manager Thad Levine said work toward this contract with the center fielder started with an offer that was made on March 17, 2017. “That’s 1,270 days ago, that’s longer than your normal negotiation,” Levine said, “but I think that’s been our focus ever since we got here. We view this as a championship caliber team, but he is a central figure to that. He’s a memory maker. When fans come to see him play he’s making memories night in and night out. … The future of everything we’re trying to do here is built around guys like Byron.”
  • Former Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is leading the Atlanta Falcons with 411 yards rushing on 93 carries (4.4-yard average) with four touchdowns and is second on team with 500 yards receiving on 41 catches and five touchdowns. Patterson, who has been a dynamic kickoff return man during his nine-year career, also is averaging 23.7 yards on 14 returns. The 29th pick by the Vikings in the first round of the 2013 draft, Patterson already has set career highs in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. His receiving yards and touchdowns are a career best and his reception total is 11 off his career high, set in 2016 with the Vikings. Patterson began getting substantial rushing attempts (42) in 2018 with the Patriots and is now listed as a running back.
  • Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was with the Tennessee Titans for three games this season and rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, visited the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday, according to NFL Network. The Seahawks would be the 36-year-old’s sixth team since he left the Vikings after the 2016 season.
  • The Wild had to use defenseman Calden Addison as a winger for Tuesday’s win against Arizona after Frederick Gaudreau couldn’t play because of COVID protocols. With winger Mats Zuccarello also sidelined by a hand injury, you have to wonder if the Wild will call up winger Matthew Boldy? Boldy, a first-round pick in 2019, has three goals and three assists in four games with the Iowa Wild of the AHL since returning from injury. Boldy also could be a help on the Wild’s struggling power play.
  • The Wild’s 5-2 victory over the Coyotes was their fourth consecutive victory and third during a five-game homestand. The win wasn’t surprising — Arizona is a bad team — but it was impressive that the Wild rebounded after a lethargic first period and took the play to the Coyotes. This was a game the “old Wild” would have lost because they spent 60 minutes playing down to the level of their opponent.
  • Gabe Kalscheur, the guard who transferred from Minnesota to Iowa State after last season, was named MVP as the Cyclones won the NIT Season Tip-Off championship last week in Brooklyn. Kalscheur had 30 points and eight rebounds in Iowa State’s 78-59 victory over No. 9 Memphis in the championship game. The former DeLaSalle High School star led Iowa State in scoring in three of its first six games.
  • How goofed up is Major League Baseball? The thing that sparked the flurry of free agent signings this week — something MLB badly needs to increase offseason interest in its game — was the threat of the lockout that is expected to begin Thursday morning after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. Don’t be surprised if we see a lengthy work stoppage. The hope has to be that when baseball does return, a long-term CBA will be worked out and necessary changes to the rules (a pitch clock, universal designated hitter, potential ban on shifts) will have been made to improve the product. MLB also needs to put in some type of signing period so free agency for the best players has a begin and end date and can’t be extended all winter and into the spring.