Football Writers Association of America Nov. 11, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Pyser
Retired coach endured epilepsy, seizures throughout career
Bookmark and Share  

DALLAS (FWAA) – Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is this week's nominee for the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.


The 54-year-old Kill, who has been a head coach at five different programs ranging from Div. II to the Big Ten, announced his retirement Oct. 28, seven games into his fifth season with the Golden Gophers due to medical concerns.

"I don't want to be a liability," Kill said at his retirement press conference. "I don't want somebody to have to worry if I'm going to drop on the field. I don't want to coach from the press box. I want to coach the way I've coached my whole life."

Kill has epilepsy, which has forced him to miss at least part of five different games in his first three seasons at Minnesota due to seizures. He had multiple seizures in the days before announcing his retirement, and he lost plenty of sleep.

Kill, who said during his emotional announcement that he felt like a part of him had died, was last year's Big Ten coach of the year. He left the game with a 29-29 record with the Gophers, and with a career record of 156-102.

The university announced today that Interim Head Coach Tracy Claeys will take over the program on a full-time basis. Claeys has served on Kill's staff for 21 years at five different universities.

"Coach Kill is one of my best friends and I am thankful that he took a chance on me 21 years ago," Claeys said following the announcement. "I am looking forward to continuing what we have built at Minnesota."

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the award are Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Josι State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Josι State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 363-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2015. Other Orange Bowl core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2015-16 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, or to submit a nomination for this year’s Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, contact Steve Richardson at

2015 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 16: Bobby Swigert, Boston College
• Sept. 23: Jake Olson, USC
• Sept. 30: Anthony Zettel, Penn State
• Oct. 7: Leonard Fournette, LSU
• Oct. 14: Cheatham Norrils, Toledo
• Oct. 21: J.B. Grimes, Auburn
• Oct. 28: D.J. Foster, Arizona State
• Nov. 4: Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
• Nov. 11: Jerry Kill, Minnesota
• Nov. 18: Mitchell Meyers, Iowa State
• Nov. 25: Hunter Knighton, Miami
• Dec. 2: Justin Hansen, Colorado State

Related link:
• Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award