Kill continued to suffer multiple seizures in the hospital after he had an episode after collapsing on the sideline at the end of the Sept. 10 home-opening loss to New Mexico State. But he returned to the sideline for Saturday’s 29-23 win over Miami (Ohio).
And it was back to normal this week. Kill was with the team all day the past three days preparing for this weekend’s game against North Dakota State.
He’s not slowing down.
Unless he has another seizure.
“If you get the flu, you’re a coach and you can’t miss practice,” Kill said. “You have to find a way to get to practice. I missed two practices last week, and the reason I missed two practices is I was having seizures or I’d have been to practice. I guarantee you that. If I wasn’t seizing, I’d have been to practice.”
Kill has dealt with seizures since he was an offensive coordinator at Pittsburg (Kan.) State in 1992. He had a seizure as head coach at Emporia State in 2000, one at Southern Illinois in 2001 and also with the Salukis in 2005 and 2006. But his recent seizures have been more frequent.
When asked if he could be specific about exactly how many seizures he’s had since the New Mexico State game, Kill said, “I’ve had too damn many.”
“That’s about as good an answer as I can give,” he said. “I’m just tired. But I’m all right. I was a little bit late to practice. I let coaches do a few things before I got out here. But I thought I coached pretty hard today. I don’t know.”
Tuesday’s practice was Kill’s third since he was released from the hospital Thursday. He said he’s trying to focus on coaching but it was difficult because he has been showered with emails, phone messages and text messages from friends, old colleagues and people from around the country.
Southern California coach Lane Kiffin, whose Trojans escaped with a 19-17 season-opening victory over Minnesota on Sept. 3, sent Kill a note urging him to “hang in there.”
“I’m trying my damnedest to do my job and coach as hard as I can coach, and return everybody’s (well wishes),” Kill said. “People have been outstanding, outstanding throughout our country to me and so forth….I’ll be fine. Like I said, I hope we can get all of this under control. But I’m not in control of that.”
Kill said his medication makes him tired and dehydrated, but he didn’t think coaching with a seizure disorder was “remarkable.” He joked that it was probably more “stupid” than anything.
“I’m not an expert; I just deal with it,” he said. “I got a lot of (chemicals) in there and am trying to work all that out. Seizure patients, they put you on different medications to keep you from seizing. Right now, that’s what they’re trying to do. I’ve been on medication for six years. But I’ve been to three different states, different people and different philosophies. If I would have stayed at one place, I probably wouldn’t be in the position I’m in.”
Kill said he has had different doctors tell him what might cause his seizures, which includes linking it to his kidney cancer, which has been in remission since surgery in 2006.
“It’s no different than going to a clinic and hearing from three coaches, you’ll get three different opinions on how to throw the football,” he said. “I put my faith in the big man upstairs and the people that understand sports. My physician understands sports, and so do the guys here. They understand sports and understand what I’ve got to do. My wife (Rebecca) has been very composed if you’ve seen her and talked to her.”
Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys spoke to Kill between seizures last week, but they weren’t concerned because Kill’s situation isn’t “life threatening,” Limegrover said.
“He told all of us, he said, ’Hey, this is what I’m going to do; if something happens, just stay away because the doctors and trainers know what to do,’ ” Limegrover said. “That’s just part of life. It’s like somebody having (Tourette syndrome) or whatever. It’s something they have to deal with. He’s not going to let it get him down.”
On Saturday, Kill roamed the sideline rather even-keeled most of the game until kicker Chris Hawthorne missed an extra point in the fourth quarter. Kill threw his headset down and got into Hawthorne’s face.
“I knew coach Kill was back,” Hawthorne said. “I knew what we got from coach Kill on Saturday wouldn’t be different from any Saturday.”
What bothers Kill is the notion that his condition might keep him from being an effective coach. Since his previous sideline seizure in 2005 at Southern Illinois, his teams have had a combined 49-24 record.
“I’m going to go like hell until I go down and when I go down, and they can do whatever they do and I’m going to go again,” he said. “That’s who I am. And I ain’t changing. And if that ain’t good enough – well, I’ve been doing it now for six years, and I’ve coached pretty damn good the last six years and I’ll coach pretty damn good for the next 15 years.”