He’s one of the most underappreciated head coaches in college football, but that doesn’t seem to bother Jerry Kill. From his playing days at Southwestern College to his journey at the FBS level as a coach, Kill’s been an underdog who’s helped teams elevate their programs everywhere he went.
How did Kill end up at New Mexico State? And what took him to take over the Aggies is a fun journey through time.
Jerry Kill Coaching Profile
- New Mexico State Aggies (head coach, 2022-present)
- TCU Horned Frogs (assistant to the head coach, 2020-2021)
- Virginia Tech Hokies (assistant to the head coach, 2019)
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights (offensive coordinator, 2017)
- Minnesota Golden Gophers (head coach 2011-20015)
- Northern Illinois Huskies (head coach, 2008-22010)
- Southern Illinois Salukies (head coach, 2001-2007)
- Emporia State Hornets (head coach, 1999-2000)
- Saginaw Valley State Cardinals (head coach, 1994-1998)
- Pittsburg State Gorillas (offensive coordinator, 1991-1993)
Jerry Kill’s Early Career
Kill wasted no time getting into playcalling in 1985 as Pittsburg State’s defensive coordinator. After spending time with Webb City High School, he returned to the Gorillas on the other side of the ball as the offensive coordinator.
That got his foot in the door to the head coaching world.
Saginaw Valley State gave Kill his first head coaching opportunity, and he didn’t waste any time improving the program. His first year resulted in a 6-4 finish, but he helped get them all the way up to a 9-2 record in 1998. Kill finished his time with the Cardinals with a 38-14 record.
After that, he became the head coach of Emporia State for two seasons, where he finished 11-11. While his record wasn’t impressive, it was enough to get him the head coaching job with Southern Illinois.
The Salukis’ first two seasons under Kill resulted in a 5-18 record, but that was the last of their struggles under his watch. They made the FCS playoffs every year until Kill departed in 2007 for Northern Illinois.
He finished 55-32 in his time with Southern Illinois.
Kill Takes Over At Northern Illinois
Joe Novak’s retirement left a hole in the Huskies’ coaching staff, and they were looking for the right guy to get them back on track. A 2-10 finish in 2007 left the school hoping for better, and Kill gave them what they needed.
He led NIU to a 6-7 record in 2008 and 7-6 in 2009. In 2010, the Huskies had a big-time breakthrough, finishing with a 10-3 record and an undefeated conference record.
Behind the arm of Chandler Harnish and the legs of Chad Spann, the Huskies produced the 19th-best offense in college football during the 2010 season. The dynamic duo combined for 50 total touchdowns.
The Huskies defense wasn’t bad by any means either, finishing 26th in the country. Jake Coffman and Sean Progar led the attack up front with a combined 26.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks.
Minnesota Eyes Kill Following Tim Brewster Era
After the debacle that was the Tim Brewster era, the Minnesota Golden Gophers needed rebuilding. So they tabbed a guy with experience in that department in Jerry Kill.
Some notable staff members he brought with him were offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, and special teams coordinator Jay Sawvel.
After building a foundation in 2011 and 2012 (a combined 9-16 record), Kill got the Gophers to heights not reached since 2003. Strong starts helped lead the Gophers to 8-5 finishes in 2013 and 2014.
Kill’s work at Minnesota highlighted his talent as a head coach, but it also revealed his health concerns. Throughout his time at Minnesota, seizures became a focal point. Kill took some time away from the program to get treatment for them in 2013 before coming back.
Other controversies affected his time with Minnesota and led to a disappointing end to ultimately what was a successful time in Minneapolis. Kill also stated that health concerns were a reason for his departure.
Kill Returns to Sidelines At TCU, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers
After a brief hiatus from coaching, Kill returned to coaching as the offensive coordinator for Rutgers during the 2017 season. He also briefly returned to Southern Illinois as special assistant to the chancellor and athletic director in 2018.
Just three games into the 2019 season, Justin Fuente brought Kill on as a special assistant to the head coach at Virginia Tech. His long-time friend, Gary Patterson, gave him the same role at TCU before Kill took over as interim head coach when the Horned Frogs and Patterson parted ways.
New Mexico State Tabs Kill As New Head Coach in 2021
In November of 2021, the New Mexico State Aggies hired Kill to be their head coach. The Aggies had just fired their previous head coach, Doug Martin, after going 8-30 the previous four seasons.
Kill didn’t take any time to get the Aggies back on track, helping them finish 7-6 during the 2022 season. They also produced their second bowl win in school history that year.
Kill’s ability to fix programs became a staple of his coaching career, and he did it at every stop. While his overall record might not be overly impressive, his ability to elevate certain programs above where they were deserves plenty of recognition.