Sunday, December 13, 2009


Long impressed by Turner Gill, Kansas A.D. makes smart hire



Kansas Head Football Coach Turner Gill

Turner Gill was named the head coach of the Kansas football team Sunday, December 15, 2009.


Turner Gill - Speechless after MAC Championship 2008


Turner Gill's 40-yard run vs. Oklahoma in 1983


Turner Gill stays in Buffalo

Reader poll

KU has offered Turner Gill the head football coaching job. Would this be a good hire for the Jayhawks?

  • Yes 69% 2999 votes
  • No 30% 1299 votes

4298 total votes.

We were standing on the 11th tee box at Lawrence Country Club a couple of summers ago when Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins asked me if I remembered what place Turner Gill finished in the Heisman Trophy voting.

I told him I thought he was second. In fact, the former Nebraska quarterback was fourth in 1983, when teammate Mike Rozier won it. Perkins then proceeded to tell me he had met Gill at a function of some sort.

“Impressive guy,” Perkins said. “I mean, really, really sharp. Nice guy.”

The way he said it left an impression and made me think if Perkins ever moved Mark Mangino out he would take a long, hard look at Gill. Perkins did, and, obviously, the more he looked, the more he liked what he saw.

Sexy hire? No. Smart hire? Yes.

A stop-the-presses hire, such as Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, would have generated a greater buzz, and if he stuck around, maybe would have given Kansas a better shot at winning Big 12 North titles. But Harbaugh either wasn’t interested, or Perkins sensed he had his eye on the NFL and wouldn’t be the Kansas coach for long. Probably the former. Either way, once Harbaugh was off the table and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin trained his attention on staying put with a contract extension, Gill was the wise choice. This wasn’t an ego hire by Perkins, or he would have reached for a bigger name.

This was a good-fit hire. Gill was a Texas high school superstar who turned down Texas and Oklahoma to head north. OK, so he didn’t choose Kansas. He chose Nebraska. While recruiting for Nebraska, Gill gained an excellent reputation for talking recruits into leaving Texas.

Kansas still isn’t Nebraska, but it’s a heck of a lot closer than it was when Gill played. He had 11 players from Texas on his Buffalo roster, and it will be a great deal easier recruiting athletes from his home state to Kansas of the Big 12 than it was getting them to Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference.

Naysayers will point to Gill’s 20-30 record in four seasons at Buffalo and 5-7 record this past season as reasons not to hire him, but to know anything about Buffalo Bulls football is to know he worked miracles in his four seasons there.

A coach’s record in his first season at a school never should be counted against him because he usually inherits a bare cupboard. Gill’s 2-10 record in 2005 shouldn’t be weighed in evaluating him any more than Mark Mangino’s 2-10 record coaching Terry Allen talent should count against him.

Gill had an 18-20 record, a .474 winning percentage, in his final three seasons. Not impressed? The Bulls went 12-79, a .132 winning percentage, in the previous eight seasons. They went from averaging 1.5 victories to averaging six.

Conspiracy theorists will wonder whether Kansas having its first African-American chancellor played a role in Perkins hiring its first African-American football coach. Wrong. When Perkins spoke glowingly of Gill on the 11th tee box, Robert Hemenway was chancellor.

Will Nebraska one day steal him? Only if he significantly elevates the Kansas program. Nothing wrong with that outcome.


LA_hawk 10 years, 9 months ago

KSA- try reading the blogs from the first article on this site saying that Gill will be hired. It's full of bloggers saying that this was a race related hire...particularly a blogger named "soobawls"...there's your one source!

LA_hawk 10 years, 9 months ago

oh, excuse me for the technicality...but my point is still proven.

Joseph Kuebel 10 years, 9 months ago

Keegan- the last word you should ever be writing is sexy... Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to/will ever associate those words with you, big guy!

Joseph Kuebel 10 years, 9 months ago

Sexy i'm guessing your saying means an attractive hire...

Not sure whats not attractive about a former BXII N player that will be able to recruit Texas, keep the recruits that we have and only add to the list, allowing us to not miss a beat...

but you say this "Sexy hire? No Smart hire? Yes" - just stop. Saying "sexy" was en vogue about 8 years ago and never fully caught on. Please seriously, just stop... Not hip, not cool...and definetly made me want punch something when I read that"

Joseph Kuebel 10 years, 9 months ago

wordchoice= as annoying as a fat girl in booty shorts.

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 9 months ago

Never quote soobawls on anything. He's here to stir the pot and that's all.

KU 10 years, 9 months ago

What does the headline of this article have to do with the content of the article? I thought I would be reading about Chuck Long's opinion of Turner Gill. Instead, we heard a personal story from Keegan about an incident while golfing with Lew.

KU 10 years, 9 months ago

I re-read the headline and now it makes sense. Lew has been impressed with Gill for a long time.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 9 months ago

That's funny, KU! I thought the exact same thing, so you're not alone. As I clicked on the URL, I kept thinking "why would they have thought to ask Chuck Long?"

hawk316 10 years, 9 months ago

I like this hire. Gill appears to be a quality person who cares deeply about his players. He should represent the university extremely well. Known as a good recruiter, Gill should be able to keep the talent flowing into Lawrence. I think he's the right choice to take the program to the next level and will do it with class. Way to go, Lew!

Michael Leiker 10 years, 9 months ago

Wow, all these stats made me think is what a horrible and inexcusable downgrade in coaching talent.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 9 months ago

It's funny that Harbaugh got all of this credit for his work at Stanford when he is actually going to his first bowl there THIS YEAR. You can actually argue that Harbaugh's job at Stanford wasn't nearly as daunting as Gill's was at Buffalo. Buffalo was considered the worst job in the nation when Gill took it. He didn't trun them into an undefeated, BCS bowl appearing machine, but he did make them relevant and conference champions. If it weren't for injuries this year, they would have been back in another bowl and might have defended their title. I suggest everyone watch the OTL video clip of this guy on Jesse Newell's blog. If you can come away from it not liking the guy, then you probably just weren;t going to be happy w/o a big name. For all of those people clamoring for Tuberville, don't you find it interesting he still hasn't been mentioned for any jobs?

Jack Wilson 10 years, 9 months ago

I guess this is Keegan's way of kissing Perkins' @!$. Poor headline, initially confused with Chuck Long, the O-coordinator.

Anyway, I appreciate Keegan's declaration of "smart."

Smart, my friends, would have meant no witch-hunt against Mangino, and letting Mangino continue the unprecedented success KU has had in football. Reminder to all out there. We are a basketball school. Given the college football recruiting landscape, we will never achieve what some ignorantly think we can. We were at the (our) mountain top with Mangino.

Ok, now all those who want to start in with the "we can achieve more" and "we should be satisfied" b.s., have at. Living in a dreamworld, you are.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm getting so tired of all this "we'll never reach these heights again" stuff from Mangino supporters. We were there under Glen Mason (10-2 and a top 10 ranking was a pretty high mountain top) and we can certainly be there again. Kansas actually had a better record in the '90s than this decade, so everyone needs to move on from HCMM.

Brad Avery 10 years, 9 months ago

What is the evidence Turner Gill's coaching success will be decidedly different than Terry Allen's record at KU of 20-33?

Roger Tobias 10 years, 9 months ago

Pardon the interuption-- But if Harbaugh hadn't had the Heisman runner-up running his offense, he wouldn't have looked nearly as attractive. (Sexy?) Don't start assuming Gill is gone to NU before he even gets here. Not everyone is Roy Williams, and Gill is not a Nebraska native. His loyalty may well stay at KU just as Bill Self's has, if he is successful, appreciated, and not a victim of a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" witch hunt. Now, convince Nolan Cromwell to come home and be our defensive coodinator. That is how to begin a long-lasting program, with some insurance.

ku75 10 years, 9 months ago

Certainly has a pedigre to be a winner. Won as a player, and his mentors were as successful and high character as it gets. His bringing in quality oc and dc shows his ego won't be a problem. Looks like Lew has again shown why he is the best AD in the country. My guess is the all of the players are greatly relieved and tremendously excited. Fans better get in shape the wheat waving in years to come will be exhausting. Rock chalk. The only worry I have is whether he will run up the score, I hope he shows sportsmanship with the score, 56-0.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

Nice article Tom. Inspite of all the ranting (I too initially thought Long was a ref to the rumor that Chuck Long was the OC) above, you did a nice job responding to the various knee jerk comments of late, and generally keeping it positive. I'm not even concerned about you using the word "sexy". Having lived past my teens and realizing how American marketing works, it seems pretty clear to me what your meaning is, which sounds IMO like what a journo is suppose to do.

Question tho - Has KU said when they will be making an anouncement, and official comments on staffing?

Thanks and Rock Chalk

Jayhawk1116 10 years, 9 months ago

THIS JUST IN: for all the Gill killers who point to his record. Gill went 20-30 in his first 4 years at Buffalo. What a crappy record, right? Mark Mangino went 19-29 his first four years at KU. Practically identical records. The difference? Mangino was able to pad that record with cupcakes. Gill's teams WERE the cupcakes and still managed a nearly identical record. And no more "Our coach has his own zip code" t-shirts.

DalTXJayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

JHAWK 1116 -- you are right, Joe Colleges revenues will go down with MM gone!! I am guessing a new Gill based line is on its way. Given he is one of the classiest coaches in college FB, let's hope he is not offended by what ever garbage (sometimes funny) they produce.

rawkhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I am glad that Perkins is AD and that Gill is the new coach. I still appreciate what Mangino has done and am sad that things had to end in that fashion. However, I am convinced that something had to happen, and Gill seems like a good fit for KU to keep up the progress. Whatever out opinions of the way this situation played out, I would encourage all KU fans to get behind the new KU FB coach. RCJH

Dennis Mahorney 10 years, 9 months ago

How secure would Gill have to be to bring in Cromwell as an AC. Every bad game the cameras would zero in on Cromwells face. Choir music would play as beams of light surround Nolan Cromwell, KU legend. How easy it would be to simply move him to head coach. He already knows the players, and is familiar with all aspects of the team. The fox would be in the hen house. No one needs that kind of pressure Gill. I would love to have Nolan here though.....

LA_hawk 10 years, 9 months ago

ohioburg- I'm starting to learn that about soobawls.

Pacer 10 years, 9 months ago

Good move for KU to hire Gill. However, this should be the first step in overhauling what cearly is an athletic department run amock. There are a number of other steps that KU should implement to make sure that the athletic department is reigned in and is not operating as a loose cannon. Here are a few things that the university should do as quickly as possible:

  1. The university's administration needs to appoint a blue-ribbon task force (comprised of people who are not affiliated with the athletic department) that will report back to the higher ups on current management practices by Lew Perkins and Co. The task force should provide the administration with recommendation for how the athletic department can be better managed and also how to make sure that it doesn't break spiral out of control again.

  2. The university should have an independent auditor take a look at the so-called "revenue" sports at KU. How much are the KU men's football and basketball teams spending and how much are they bringing in for the university? How many resources are going to these two programs compared to the other KU athletic programs? How much scholarship money do these two programs have compared to the rest of KU's sports?

  3. From now on, at least two or three faculty members from KU should attend every KU football and men's basketball practice and report their independent observations to the university's administration. They should also log the amount of time that players are being required to practice. Per NCAA rules, coaches are limited to the amount of time that players can focus on their sport. It seems all too often that this is being ignored.

These are just a few things that the university can do rather quickly to shore up the athletic department. We'll see if it's willing to take the appropriate steps to do what's sorely needed.

This situation bears watching.

drhawk63 10 years, 9 months ago

Congradulations coach Gill!! We're proud you are now part of the Jayhawk Nation. College football needs more men with HCTG's high standards. Good job Lew.

tical523 10 years, 9 months ago

. . . . . already hearing he is bringing in some good assistant coaches, the most important thing.

IBRONNIEB 10 years, 9 months ago

No matter what anybody wants to think, or say, Mr. Gill is our new head coach, and deserves all of our support. While I liked Mangino as a coach, hes no longer here. So we need to move forward. I'm alot more impressed with our new coach, than alot of the other options, that were out there. I have no doubt in his ability to lead. And thats what our players need right now. Along with everyones support. Lead the way Coach, lets take the next step, that leads to the next level. RCJH......

ramsey76 10 years, 9 months ago

Initially I didn't want anything to do with Turner Gill and I bought into the Harbaugh hype. I still believe Harbaugh would have been a great hire but the more I read the more I like Gill. His connections to Texas are crucial for our program.

I'm also tired of reading the comparisons to Terry Allen. I'm not worried about Gill taking us down the same path. Allen's first mistake was not hiring quality assistants. If the rumors are true Gill is already putting together a great coaching staff. Gill also has a track record to gain respect from the players. From what I remember the players did not respect TA and walked all over him. I would be shocked if guys are hanging out with their girlfriends during practice and taking naps during games under coach Gill.

I say welcome aboard Coach Gill and I'll be in Lawrence next year rooting on the Jayhawks.

ramsey76 10 years, 9 months ago

I also want to add that I find it humorous how much a year makes in the eyes of fans. Wasn't it last year that Gill was being considered for a job at Auburn and the university was highly criticized for not hiring him. One year later Lew Perkins is considered a complete idiot for hiring the same man that everyone believes should be coaching Auburn. Instead many posters believe we should have hired the man that Gill should have replaced.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 9 months ago

Ramsey76, The only person I remember criticizing Auburn for not hiring Gill was Charles Barkley. I don't believe that is everyone.

actorman 10 years, 9 months ago

"Smart, my friends, would have meant no witch-hunt against Mangino, and letting Mangino continue the unprecedented success KU has had in football. ..."

Smart, my friends, would be to not pay any attention to imbeciles like HighEliteMajor who don't actually let facts get in the way of their opinions. ...

ramsey76 10 years, 9 months ago

Boulder thanks for pointing this out. I truly believed that everyone in the world felt that Gill should have been the Auburn coach.

Though I have been corrected that not everyone believed that Gill should have been the Auburn coach I do remember more than Barkley crying foul on hiring Chizik over Gill.

100 10 years, 9 months ago

We are in business boys...

This guy can recruit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

100 10 years, 9 months ago

Watch the YouTube Clip "Speechless, MAC championship" --

THIS is the kind of guy we want representing Kansas football!!!!

This guy will be able to bring in so many 4 & 5 star recruits!!!!!

Nebraska will be dying to steal Coach Gill from us, but they're already locked into Coach Pelini for the next 30 years!!!!

Rock Chalk!!!!

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