Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - While former Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker had his moment in the sun yesterday afternoon (and last night, and this morning, and this afternoon), Gophers head coach Jerry Kill took the opportunity to meet the press Monday morning on campus to share the other side of the story that led to Barker's dramatic departure from the team.
"I was working yesterday and A.J. didn't come in for training," Kill shared. "I got the email [alerting me of his intentions], received it, reached out to A.J. and didn't get a response."
At the time of his morning press conference on Monday, Jerry Kill had yet to hear back from Barker. Still, Kill spent twenty minutes explaining the situation from his point of view and to address some of the heavy allegations that Barker laid out towards his former head coach.
"We have specific rules and guidelines on how we [do things], from the day I walked in to our program, I've talked about discipline and how we do things," Kill explained. "I was coaching Thursday on the field and A.J. had a confrontation with one of our trainers. Normally I kind of let things go because I'm busy but it got so loud that I called A.J. over and let him know that I wasn't very happy."
Kill explained that he mostly had issue with the way that Barker was responding to an adult and an authority figure while yelling at the training staff.
"If my daughter ever confronted a coach like that or a trainer, there wouldn't be anything like this going on," Kill said flatly. "She wouldn't be playing and that would be my call."
Kill acknowledged that not every player sees eye-to-eye with their head coach each and every day saying, "It's hard when you have a roster of 120 people to keep all 120 happy, there's no way. Can't start em all, can't play em all, can't scholarship them all...50% of the people are going to like what you're doing, 50% aren't…I'm not here for a popularity contest."
In his 4,000 word Tumblr note which was posted late Sunday afternoon, Barker alleged that a member of Kill's staff had called him a derogatory slur because of his religious beliefs and that Coach Kill had aggressively questioned what kind of "[expletive] up things happened to me to screw me up so much as a person." Kill denied that either situation had happened under his watch.
After both sides have surfaced with their stances, it appears as if it may just be better for both sides to humbly go their separate ways and put the situation behind them. Barker obviously does not follow the same methodology as Jerry Kill and unfortunately for him, as an unrecruited walk-on player, he is much more replaceable than Coach Kill.
The bottom line is, when you build a program, you come in to a new program and there's certain standards and discipline things that you have to do to stay in the program," Kill explained. "I feel bad for [A.J.] because I think it's a deal that he'll regret someday. But there's nothing i could do about that."