Been exceptionally busy with the real job, but hopefully things are back to normal on this day. It'll allow me to get back into my normal late-summer routine, preparing for the fall and winter sports season.
UMD football is first up. I'm looking forward to getting up to campus next week for Media Day as we start to get a lay of the land. New coach in Curt Wiese, a good dude and a guy I think we in the media will all like from a standpoint of access and information. New quarterback to "replace" Chase Vogler, one of the more understated guys to come through this program in a long time. I never doubted for a second that Isaac Odim was appreciated when he was playing at UMD. I'm not entirely sure Vogler was appreciated as much as he should have been.
For evidence, look at what he did for the offense in the playoff loss to Missouri Western. 379 total yards, including 184 on the ground. Yeah, Austin Sikorski was a beast running that day, but Vogler almost singlehandedly kept UMD in the game, especially when Western was threatening a blowout early.
Sikorski is back, as is Aaron Roth and most of the offensive line. The defense was practically disastrous at times, especially in the St. Cloud and Western losses. That said, John Steger is a hell of a coach, and nearly everyone is back there as well.
If that's not enough local football, a St. Scholastica team that returns a ton of talent is picked to win the UMAC in the preseason league coaches' poll. The Saints started slowly last year as they broke in a new starting quarterback (Tyler Harper) and tried to find an offensive identity. A 7-1 UMAC record put CSS in a three-way tie for first, one that was broken by a blind draw conducted over the internet; and CSS won the draw for the league's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.
The Saints have a slew of starters back, including Harper and running backs Jake Jensen and Chris Gassert. However, the receiving corps took a hit, including the graduation of Nick Thiry, and the defensive line lost a lot of talent.
I'm excited to see what Wisconsin does in its first year under Gary Andersen. Longtime blog readers will know that I was never really a fan of Bret Bielema. I just didn't trust him in big games or close games, and his record -- especially last year -- would seem to support my trust issues. Andersen last worked at Utah State, hardly a powerhouse, but he built a winner there after years of mediocre or worse football.
Job No. 1: Find a quarterback. Usually, I'd put my chips in on the guy the new coach recruited, but it doesn't sound like junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy is throwing well early on. He's the best athlete of the bunch, but senior Curt Phillips and sophomore Joel Stave are both probably better options for the passing game, at least in the early going. How quickly the quarterback race comes together will determine Wisconsin's BCS hopes.
Speaking of the B1G, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a must-read feature on Minnesota coach Jerry Kill in Sunday's paper.
Now, at the dawn of a new season, Kill has come to a pivotal juncture in his eight-year quest to gain control of his seizures. The Gophers need to keep improving, and he needs to prove he can stay healthy.We learn that stress and a lack of sleep can make the body less resistant to these seizures. The point? Kill's chosen profession -- football coach -- practically invites his body to continue to have these problems. It means that everything else he does has to be done almost perfectly. He has to make sure he gets enough rest, relaxes as much as possible, and he can't let his guard down.
Knowing the stakes, he found a new doctor, changed medication plans, honed his diet, exercised and adopted a whole new outlook — embracing the word epilepsy instead of shunning it.
“Believe me, there’s nobody who’s trying to do the right thing more than I am because I love coaching the game of football,” Kill said. “And I want to make sure I never have a situation, ever, during a game again.”
Experts say about 70 percent of the people with epilepsy can become seizure-free with the right medication. Kill insists he’s making progress.
When Kill seized at halftime of that game against Michigan State last season -- his fifth documented seizure since taking the UMTC job -- people began to talk about the need for the university to move on. Kill himself says in this article that he understands he can't miss entire halves of games when he's the head coach.
Kill is a good coach, and I've heard very good things about him away from the field, too. There is no reason to do anything here but wish for the best for him and his family. He wants to coach, so hopefully his body allows him to continue doing so.