Jerry Kill is an absolute delight. You could almost call him “the anti-Coach P”, as he cracked jokes. Whether it was trying to recruit one of Patterson’s favorite journalistic nemesis to come play for him — Shehan Jeyarajah politely declined — or telling Billy Wessels of Rivals that he hoped the barbers opened up soon to take care of his beard, Kill was polite and easy with the media on Monday morning’s conference call, even taking time to thank reporters at the end for all they do for TCU Football and college football in general.
While Coach P was equally as relaxed in his zoom call last week, those of us who have sat across the podium know what’s it’s like to ask him a question he doesn’t particularly care for — and while he’s not nearly as grumpy as some would have you believe, it’s easy to tell why Patterson reached out to his old friend Kill to join his staff this fall — Jerry is, quite simply, the yin to Gary’s yang.
After stepping off of the sidelines at Minnesota in 2015 due to health concerns, Kill joined Justin Fuentes’ staff at Virginia Tech for the 2019 campaign, serving as the assistance head coach. But when his old friend Gary called, the best man in GP’s wedding left Blacksburg for Fort Worth. “It’s a unique situation. Coach Patterson called me and said, ‘hey, we need you’. I hadn’t been [at Virginia Tech] very long, and I’m not used to doing that [jumping around]. But we’ve known each other a long time, and Fort Worth is a place I would like to live. This is a great opportunity to work with somebody that you’ve been with, that you know inside out. I felt like I could bring some help.”
After TCU’s offense bottomed out in 2019, much was made of the decision to replace Curtis Luper and Chris Thomsen with “retreads” in Doug Meacham and Kill. Patterson spoke often of wanting to work with people he likes, and many chalked that up to an old coach wanting to maximize the enjoyment of his swan song. But, speaking with Kill, it doesn’t at all sound like he plans to sit around and drink beer and play guitar with his best friend — he really believes he has something to offer TCU Football, and that he can help Meacham and much-maligned Sonny Cumbie in 2020 and beyond. “We can talk in a different way because we go back so long. There’s a different level of respect. He comes off as kind of a hard-nosed guy — which he is — but that’s why all the damn players get drafted from here. But at the same time, nobody sees that other side. And that’s a side that probably needs to get talked about more. We can sit and visit and talk about things in the program, and he’s going to listen.”
With a friendship that goes back more than three decades, Jerry Kill knows Gary Patterson “better than anyone” and can talk to him differently than anyone else in the program. He’s also been around the game so long — coaching at every level but the NFL (of which he said he turned down opportunities to do so) and held nearly every position on a staff. He can work offense, he can work defense, he’s been a recruiting coordinator and a fixer. There isn’t much that he hasn’t seen, or many areas he can’t have an impact on. And that seems to be what he wants to do — be the “head coach of the offense” and make sure that Coach P can focus on the defense — and running a program. “Anytime you trust somebody, you’re going to allow them to take some things off your plate. I am going to take things off his plate so that he can concentrate on what he does best. I want him to be able to do what he does best and when he’s able to do that, we are going to be able to win games. You know that as well as I do.”
Though we are a long way from knowing if this experiment works, Kill seems pleased to have the opportunity to give it a go. “He had a big reason for me to come, because it gives me the chance to finish out my career with my best friend. I know him better than anybody does — he knows my positives and negatives and I know his. I think that it’s a good fit. We will find out — you’ve got to prove it. But I think the big thing is that we can help each other out. Coming to TCU, this is a special place. Special, special. I don’t think we probably advertise it enough. Not very places in the country that have what we have here in Fort Worth.”
We will find out if what we have in Fort Worth is a winner — hopefully this fall.