Jerry Kill stresses accountability with Gophers

When Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray first heard about the T-shirts, he had the right reaction.

"In my head, I was like, 'I don't want to be a part of that,'" Gray said. "That brown shirt with those pink letters doesn't look too good."

Gray wasn't merely being fashion conscious. If you wear the shirt in coach Jerry Kill's program, you're in trouble and everyone knows it.

The front of the shirt reads: "I let my teammates down." The back: "Minnesota Loafers." And yes, all the letters are in pink.

"Everybody has their own style of what they do as far as holding people accountable," Kill said. "We've used some unique things, what we do with the shirts and so forth."

If a player shows up late for a workout, a study hall session or another team activity, or falls short of expectations in some other way, he'll don the "Loafer" shirt in practice. The message seems to be sinking in, as only one player wore the shirt on the first day of spring ball.

"Like anybody that goes into a new job, a new situation, we're making sure that our kids are accountable, not only on the field but off the field," Kill said. "If it's missing class or late to class, we're going to make sure we're going to take care of it immediately. ... We're pretty tough on 'em. When they make a mistake, we're going to hold them accountable."

Anyone who has listened to Kill this spring or read the practice reports coming out of Minneapolis gets a sense of his no-nonsense attitude. Kill began the spring by discussing the players' problems with conditioning and academics, noting that, "we may take a step back before we go forward."

The coach has faced similar issues at previous stops and eventually got things on track. He's taking the same approach with Minnesota.

"We have to change the culture here," Kill said. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy when [I] took the job. I know our work's cut out for us, but that's OK. We've got a plan, we’ve got a vision and we've done it before. How quick things go, I don't know, but we’re going to work at it."