Missouri paper calls Gophers' Jerry Kill 'the great defroster'

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Sports history is filled with famous nicknames that will stand the test of time.

  • Babe Ruth: "The Great Bambino"
  • Wayne Gretzky: "The Great One"
  • Ted Williams: "Teddy Ballgame"
  • Michael Jordan: "Air Jordan"
  • Kevin Garnett: "The Big Ticket"
  • Reggie Jackson: "Mr. October"
  • Joe DiMaggio: "The Yankee Clipper"
  • Frank Thomas: "The Big Hurt"
  • Mike Tyson: "Iron Mike"
  • Allen Iverson: "The Answer"

Perhaps the next famous nickname on the list will belong to Jerry Kill, whom the St. Louis Post-Dispatch referred to as "The Great Defroster."

What does the paper mean by that?

In advance of the New Year's Day Citrus Bowl between the Golden Gophers (8-4) and the No. 16 Missouri Tigers (10-3), the paper profiled the Minnesota head coach's journey to Division I success in college football. Essentially, Kill is a master of reclamation projects; the Gophers being his latest work of art.

Minnesota football was in a state of deep freeze before Kill's arrival in 2011. He took over a program that former head coach Tim Brewster had buried with just 15 wins in 45 games over three and a half seasons before getting fired midway through the 2010 season.

Mario Moccia, the soon-to-be athletics director at New Mexico State, sent Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague a text moments after the Gophers pulled off a rare win at Nebraska earlier this season.

“I told you,” Moccia wrote. “The guy is going to win.”

Moccia knows Kill well from their days together at Southern Illinois, where Moccia, the former SIU athletics director, watched Kill take a program from the bottom of Division I-AA, now known as the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), to the No. 1 ranking in the country.

Another cool fact from the story is that Kill's first coaching job was in Missouri, where he led Webb City High School to a 25-1 record in two seasons, including a state title in 1989.

Kill's latest reconstruction of a program will reach the end of its fourth year when the Gophers and Tigers square off at 12 p.m. CT on New Year's Day in Orlando, Florida.

Speaking of defrosting things: According to ESPN, the bowl will be Minnesota's first New Year's Day game in 53 years and if they win they'll reach nine victories for just the second time in the past 110 years. Glen Mason guided Minnesota to ten wins in 2003.

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