Minnesota's Kill: Player quit over discipline

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012
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Barker said he was forced to practice by Kill last Tuesday — another allegation that Kill denies — but he was unable to get through warm-ups. An MRI test the next day revealed ligament tears and a bone bruise above his heel, he said.

Kill said Barker's actions toward the training staff disrupted practice. That's when Kill admitted to dressing Barker down.

"Nobody wants to see a kid not play or get his dreams or those kinds of things," Kill said. "But at the same time, I can't let him do something different than everybody else. You can't be having a confrontation with an adult trainer and it's OK. That's not what we ask of everybody else."

It's the latest moment of difficulty for Kill in an up-and-down second season at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten) started the season 4-0 and have qualified for a bowl game, a noticeable sign of improvement after Tim Brewster's disastrous tenure as coach.

But the Gophers have also been blown out by Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska, and Kill drew criticism when the university spent $800,000 to buy its way out of future games against North Carolina.

Kill said butting heads with players early in his tenure is nothing new. The same thing happened at Northern Illinois and at other stops while players acclimated to his hard-nosed coaching style.

"I'm not here to win any popularity contests," Kill said, adding he "doesn't treat our players any differently than I treat my two daughters."

But it was clear that Barker was pushed too far for his liking, so now the Gophers head into the season finale against Michigan State without their only proven playmaker on the outside.

Barker, a St. Paul native who starred at De La Salle High School in Minneapolis, said he would transfer and believed he could play without sitting out a season since he was a walk-on.

"It's hard when you have a roster of 120 people to keep all 120 people happy," Kill said. "There's no way. Can't start them all, can't play them all, can't scholarship them all. There's rules. So I do the best I can with what we have to work with."

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