Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It sounds like a scene out of a sports movie: an old-school coach forcing his undisciplined players to spend part of their summers cleaning out horse stalls in order to build the character that will make them winners.
But while winning big in Minnesota is going to remain a Hollywood fantasy for at least another season, the rest of that description is exactly what's happening for the Gophers under first-year head coach Jerry Kill. Our Dennis Dodd wrote recently that Kill's straightforward approach was exactly what the Gophers needed, and that's been echoed by this Tuesday Minneapolis Star-Tribune column examining Kill's creatively strict approach to team discipline.
According to columnist Chip Scoggins, Kill joined with local sheriff Rich Stanek to create a summer community service program "for players who fell short of their responsibilities, either academically or off campus." Part of that service? Saturdays spent cleaning out the stalls -- manure and all -- belonging to the police horses that patrol the area's Three Rivers Park District.
Players are also required to weed a community garden and perform other services--"some old-fashioned hard labor," Stanek called it.
No doubt the Gophers on manure duty are convinced Kill's idea stinks, if you'll pardon the pun. But is it working? Quarterback MarQuies Gray told Scoggins that "right now players are definitely scared of getting in trouble."
We don't blame them, which might not help Kill much on the recruiting trails. But if Kill can create a tighter, more disciplined team through whatever methods he might choose, Minnesota might end up getting that Hollywood ending after all.