DeKALB – Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover won't count out Huskies' coach Jerry Kill for Saturday's game at Illinois.
When the pair was at Southern Illinois, Limegrover thought his coach might miss an Oct. 28, 2006, game at Missouri State. But by kickoff, Kill – who had suffered a seizure two weeks earlier – sat next to Limegrover in the press box and "pointed at things" as the Salukis played and defeated the Bears, 27-17.
"He wanted to be there then, and I know he's going to want to be there now," Limegrover said. "It's therapy for him to at least be there and be a part of it. We've always worked well in that situation, and I anticipate if he is in the box, he'll be sitting right next to me and he'll be pointing at stuff again."
Kill, 49, was admitted to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb on Sunday morning after suffering from dehydration before electing to transfer to Northwestern Memorial on Monday to confer with his personal physician and undergo further evaluation.
Kill has been upgraded to good condition, a Northwest Memorial spokesperson said Wednesday morning. The American Hospital Association defines good condition as "Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent." Kill had been listed as being in fair condition since he was admitted to Northwestern Memorial on Monday morning.
NIU defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will assume the head coaching position if Kill is unable to coach Saturday's game in Champaign. Though Claeys said Tuesday that he "would be shocked" if Kill didn't make the trip "based on what we know now."
"I can't speculate if he'll be with us on Saturday, but if anybody knows coach Kill, trying to keep him off the sidelines on Saturday is going to be a tough job," NIU athletic director Jeff Compher said Tuesday at a news conference.
But Compher, who declined an interview request after meeting will Kill on Tuesday, made clear that Kill's No. 1 priority should be recovery.
"I want him to do what his doctors advise him to do," Compher said. "I want to support him and his family with that and let him know that one game doesn't make a season whether he's with us or not. But we need to get him well and be back and have him feeling better."
Kill had surgery on Sept. 3 for unspecified reasons. Compher said Kill's family wished to keep his medical condition private but reiterated that it is not related to Kill's 2005 battle with kidney cancer.
The NIU players learned of Kill's hospitalization Sunday afternoon during a regularly scheduled team meeting before a one-hour practice. The team practiced without Kill on Tuesday afternoon.
"Coach Kill, he's always a guy that makes himself known, so you know when he's not around," NIU safety Tracy Wilson said. "It was a little different, but we know we got to get mentally prepared for U of I this week.
"We just really wish him the best, wish Mrs. Kill the best, their family the best."
If Kill travels to Champaign, it's unclear whether he will have an active coaching role. But Limegrover said he's not prepared to ignore any advice the head coach offers.
"I think you'd call them helpful hints," Limegrover said, "but when you get helpful hints from your boss, you pretty much go, 'That's pretty helpful, and that's a hint. I think I'll go with it.'
"Even if he just comes down, drives down the day of the game and if he just is in the press box, that'll be so much more for him than sitting at home or lying in a hospital bed. ... Being around that is probably as good of medicine as he can have to get him back on track."