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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All eyes on Turner Gill: Jayhawks’ coach looking to build relationships, trust

KU athletic director Lew Perkins presents KU's new head football coach Turner Gill a Jayhawk hat and jersey during a press conference.

KU athletic director Lew Perkins presents KU's new head football coach Turner Gill a Jayhawk hat and jersey during a press conference.

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Turner Gill: A new era

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Turner Gill is officially the new head coach of KU football.

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Kansas Head Football Coach Turner Gill

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

More than anything, his former players will attest, the secret to Turner Gill’s coaching success has been predicated on his ability to forge and maintain relationships.

That was certainly the case at Buffalo, where he led the Bulls to a Mid-American Conference championship and their first bowl game in 50 years. Same with Nebraska, where as an assistant he helped quarterback Eric Crouch win a Heisman Trophy and was part of three national championship teams.

So while Gill’s laundry list of duties heading into his first job as a BCS-caliber football coach is considerable — implementing a new staff, familiarizing himself with the town, hitting the recruiting trail running — his priority, he said, is to get to know his existing players as soon as possible.

“They’re going to get to know me in a deep way,” said Gill, who was introduced as the new head coach at Kansas University on Monday. “We’re going to build relationships. As you begin to build relationships, you begin to build trust. And it’s going to take time. It’s not going to be overnight. But we’re going to have to spend time together.”

And the quicker Gill is able to build that trust, meanwhile, the better things figure to be for a program that has endured a rough go lately.

Since KU athletic director Lew Perkins announced last month that he had launched an internal investigation into Mark Mangino’s treatment of players, the perception — accurate or not — has been that the player-head coach relationship at Kansas has been less than stellar.

Multiple former players, for instance, insisted they had no real relationship with the 2007 national coach of the year, and while no one mentioned Mangino by name Monday — not Perkins or Gill, anyway — the former coach’s reign as head coach of the Jayhawks, as well as his recent departure from the university under not-so-pleasant circumstances, was still fresh in the minds of those in attendance.

Already in Gill’s short time at the program’s helm, however, he has made clear that things will be different at Kansas — “I want to create an environment that’s productive, where people enjoy coming to work every day,” he said. “That’s just how I’m wired” —and the general consensus among players is that a more personable touch will act as a welcome development.

“That’s what a lot of coaches want to be in the long run — they want to actually connect with their players in a one-on-one personal level as well as an athletic level,” KU freshman receiver/safety Bradley McDougald said. “I think that will definitely help.”

What also will help is that Gill arrives in Lawrence with a vaunted pedigree.

A former Heisman Trophy finalist at Nebraska who has twice been named one of the nation’s top-10 recruiters, Gill’s resume, both as a player and coach, is enough to impress even the staunchest skeptic.

As a quarterback at Nebraska, he led the Huskers to three Orange Bowls, had a three-season minor-league baseball career with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, coached a Heisman-winning quarterback (Crouch) and was named a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, annually given to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Oh, and for good measure, he led a laughingstock Buffalo program to a conference title in just his third season at the school.

“Just to hear him, see him, talk to him, he’s so engaging,” Perkins said. “So positive, and obviously his football knowledge is great. I just felt that he was a special person.”

News this week that Perkins had tapped Gill for his first BCS coaching job, meanwhile, came as welcome news to members of the Gill family, including daughter Jordan, a sophomore at KU who decided to attend the school only after Gill called Perkins — a longtime friend — to discuss the university.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Jordan, who recently began working for the Kansas athletic department. “I’ve always talked about Jayhawk football with him since the very beginning; I was just as excited as he was (about KU) at the beginning of the season. Now for him to be here and change the program, its going to be a really, really great thing for the Lawrence community and the school, as well.”

Although details of the contract were not available Monday, Gill is set to make $2 million annually through 2014, up from his $401,300 salary at Buffalo.

On Monday, Gill announced three members of his staff — offensive coordinator Chuck Long, defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and tight ends/special-teams coach Aaron Stamn — and has plans to interview at least some of the assistants that remain from the Mangino regime, though he didn’t indicate whether any would return to Lawrence next season.

Perkins said the terms of the new coordinators’ contracts had yet to be finalized.

Gill indicated, meanwhile, that Kansas’ offense will maintain its spread attack, though fans shouldn’t be surprised to see the occasional two-back set, either.

Defensively, he said, the Jayhawks will work out of a 4-3 formation with a focus on aggressive play and forcing turnovers.

He talked about other things, too.

He talked about his injury policy (more like NFL teams, less like the undisclosed policy carried by Mangino) and becoming a consistent power in the Big 12. He talked about his excitement and how his previous job prepared him for the struggles he’ll surely face in his first season transitioning to the BCS ranks.

He talked about Big 12 titles, but he didn’t talk about rebuilding.

“We’re here to win today,” he said. “This is not a one-year, two-year, five-year process. I’m a competitor. I love to win, and I’ve been blessed and had opportunities where I’ve been successful just about everywhere I’ve been.”

In the end, however, everything circled back to relationships: the need to build them, the need to maintain them.

“You have to come in and build a relationship with these players,” said former KU and NFL running back Gale Sayers, now a director of fundraising for the university’s athletic department. “You have to come in and talk to these players one-on-one. What did you like about coach Mangino? What didn’t you like about him? Once he gets that behind him, he can get out and start recruiting.”

Comments

100 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow -- Gale Sayers & Turner Gill on our campus...

Bring on the National Championship type 5 star recruits!!!!!

Welcome to Lawrence, Turner Gill!!!!

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okiedave 4 years, 8 months ago

Oklahoma sportswriters think KU has hit a homerun and think he will be one of the best recruiters in the Big XII.

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OCJHAWK 4 years, 8 months ago

I feel Gill will have a better relationship with the community, fundraising, and media than Mangino was. Lew wanted that to help him move the program to a more nationally recognized brand.

As the a-hole Switzer said it the Jimmy's and the Joe's. Gill and team seem to be getting good starting grades on that. I really hope he has already scheduled a visit to Geneo Grissom in Hutch as Les Miles has recently come a calling to change his mind to LSU.

Mangino left KU with the best athletes we have had in years even without Todd, Jake Dez, and Kerry. The O-line that shut down Nebraskas O Suh(?) will be returning as a core group to help out whoever wins the QB position next year.The roster is filled with redshirted underclassmen who were given the time to build size and strength.

I am always the KUFB optimist, and think we will have a good 2010, with the fist four games basically gimmies as scheduled.

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psychoanalyst 4 years, 8 months ago

Two of the first four games next year aren't gimmes: Georgia Tech and @ Southern Miss in back-to-back weeks. That said, I'm still optimistic like you!

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CheneyHawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Separated @ birth - Lew Perkins & Uncle Fester from the Addams Family..... Yesterday's news conference confirmed it.

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SaltyJayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

I want to tell everybody about geneo Grissom. I go to high school with him and have had a couple classes with him. ku would be lucky to have him. he is the nicest an most polite kid I hav ever met. our head football coach is trying to convince him to stay in state so There is a good chance he'll stay a jayhawk.

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OCJHAWK 4 years, 8 months ago

psyco - good catch I forgot about GTech. We should spank SMU though if we are to even have a chance for a good year.

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OCJHAWK 4 years, 8 months ago

I really hope your right SaltyJayhawk as there are only a few true bluechips each year local to KU and it is huge to keep them as they are more likely to succeed for many familiarity reasons.

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TrueBlue92 4 years, 8 months ago

Salty, call the athletic department! Have the young man send in a highlight tape!! No stone goes unturned these days and having more Kansas kids playing for the Jayhawks makes me proud.

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DallasHawk 4 years, 8 months ago

TrueBlue. He's already a commit and a stud. We just have to keep sleaze bags like Les Miles and LSU away from him while Turner makes an in home visit.

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Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

CheneyHawk - Sorry, but Lew was actually an ogre in the movie Ella Enchanted -

http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/ella_enchanted_05.jpg

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Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

It sounds like Gill will be in a great position to retain all the recruits from the Mangino regime. I hope my assumption is correct.

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TRUEHEART 4 years, 8 months ago

No need to have Geneo Grissom send game tapes. He has visited KU and KU staff has attended many of his games. The KU staff and the whole country knows about him. He has committed to Kansas, but LSU and others have been calling on him to change his mind. Coach Gill will be on top of this to make sure Grissom stays in the Jayhawk camp. And, he is the real deal.

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suttonku 4 years, 8 months ago

I love this hire...We just got the best recruiter in the entire country! I agree with Oklahoma sports writers this was a homerun no doubt. This is why Lew gets paid the big bucks. I think we got a way better coach than Mangino, way better. Mangino did good things here but he wasnt the same coach after the Orange Bowl. Turner Gill is a humble man that loves to win.

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shelleysue 4 years, 8 months ago

Before I start, I just want to say that through this whole mess I wasn't necessarily pro Mangino, I just was not anti Mangino. I just like to give credit where it's do, that's all. And Mangino did a lot for KU football and his players including introducing additional medical tests for incoming players which found Kerry Meier's condition. Demanding better performance in the classroom is something each and every player should be thankful for - because THAT is their future - not football.

anyway...

Yes - Mangino was different after the Orange Bowl. I would assume it had everything to do with the contract Perkins gave him after that win. Anyone who thinks Lew wasn't breathing down his neck after that with threats etc. is only kidding themselves. Some players say they played to "not screw up". I guarantee you Mangino was under that kind of pressure from Lew and he in turn passed that on to his staff and players.

I hope the new head coach and staff can take us to the next level. When they do, I will be totally on board. I plan to continue buying season tickets and will support the Jayhawks no matter what.

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jhokfan 4 years, 8 months ago

Now he won't have to pay out-of-state tuition for his daughters.

After such a disastrous season, I'm excited about KU football again. Going from Mangino to Gill as opposed to Allen to Mangino, I expect to get back on our feet faster. Say what you will about Mangino, this program is better than what he inherited.

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shelleysue 4 years, 8 months ago

Geneo - we want you as a Jayhawk! As a native Kansan I especially appreciate players from right here in Kansas. You will get great fan support and a full stadium every Saturday. AND you will get to tear up some Tigers by being part of one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college football. Looking forward to seeing you in crimson and blue! Rock Chalk.

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Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

jhokfan, amen.

Terry Allen almost killed KU football and Dr. Bob, who was a very honorable man, did nothing because Terry was Roy's guy. Coach Gill does not come to KU with the cupboards bare - there is talent already here, some recruited, and he still has time to perhaps add some more. Mangino had less than nothing to work with - he had to eradicate several cancers. Gill also steps into a first rate facility - thank you very much sweet Lew.

So, in my opinion, Coach Gill should be able to win right away. 2010-11 may not be a bowl year, but 2011-12 should be and that year will be a good indicator of our football future under Gill.

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shelleysue 4 years, 8 months ago

Given our schedule next year, I'm certainly expecting a bowl!

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shelleysue 4 years, 8 months ago

"The spread will be in use, but he also anticipates using more two back sets and even some under center."

Now this I am excited about because the lack of using two back sets and under center was the cause of some of my frustration regarding the offense.

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100 4 years, 8 months ago

Anybody like Dynasties?

Well, Tom Osbourne has some knowledge on this topic. Why not get a quote from Tom Osbourne, Chuck... when asked if he (Osbourne) "made" those mid 1990's dynasties happen (3 NCAA championships), here's what he said. This is a story from 1999:

"Without Turner Gill recruiting for us & coaching the quarterbacks his little instinctual tricks, we would not have won any of those national titles in the mid '90s. None. I firmly believe that with all of my heart. We would have been good, but no national championships. Turner Gill made it happen with his heart, his recruiting, his belief & his help with the quarterbacks. Turner's gift to us, in tandem with our unified team belief, coupled with the hard work of our units in practice, magnified by the undying devotion of our walk ons giving our first two teams double the repetitions, not to mention the ceaseless support of our assistant coaching staff those years, made those teams the focused & talented group that they were. We believed. And we were good, partially thanks to all the hard work. But, more than anyone, if I was to single out one person, it wouldn't be me. It was Turner Gill... his recruiting & leadership made all the difference."

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100 4 years, 8 months ago

This is from the ESPN boards:

pensfan73595 (12/15/2009 at 11:12 AM) Report Violation:

I have had quit a few friends that played for Nebraska and when Callahan got fired we had a good discussion about who would be the next coach. One thing they all said about Turner was that he had this presence about him. You always knew when he walked into the locker room. EVERYBODY respected him. This was something they say Callahan NEVER came close to having and in fact the only other coach they could compare it to was Dr. Tom. Good Luck Turner and Congrats Kansas on a GREAT hire!

Btw...none of them knew Bo. So, relax Husker fans:)

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danno1313 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope Coach Gill doesn't yell at the players. They are easily offended and he will be fired I m sure.

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100 4 years, 8 months ago

Zooballs & Donut,

How are your Missouri Tigers looking next year?

You notice Texas gave Mack Brown a $2 million raise?

I wonder why.....

What more could he do? Doesn't Mack control the whole state of Texas...

Doesn't that seem like a pretty big raise?

I wonder why it was so big????

Oh wait a minute, that's right -- somebody just got hired the other day somewhere who is making the Texas athletic Department nervous about it's crop of five star recruits....

I wonder who that could be?

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Michael Leiker 4 years, 8 months ago

Dudes just gotta wear a red tie for the press conference...slap in the face. It's Blue ties only now Gill. I imagine you would have a few of those from your days in Buffalo.

And don't think that stuff's not calculated.

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babyjay1 4 years, 8 months ago

Some people are such downers... gets so tiring! Maybe you all could go away and come back if it's warranted down the road. There is absolutely nothing to gripe about right now. The only ones whining and complaining are so-called "fans" who seem to love being miserable. None of the people I have heard talk on sports radio, tv, etc... seem to think this is a horrible hire. Give it a rest and enjoy the ride for awhile and see what happens. Rock Chalk!!

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Steve Brown 4 years, 8 months ago

Shelly welcome back, I recall how you admired all the good stuff MM did for us, & to your credit you didn't take at face value all the accusations without proof. Very soon you are going to be estactic over our new character based leadership coach that isn't just a winner, but believes in championships & the right stuff.

For anyone that loved Mad Mark, domestic abuse Mark, cellar dwellar fake, don't forget.

We are up by 3 points, 1st down, 2:59 14 seconds later they have two points, we are punting, they still have time outs.....the agony....why not just forfeit.....48-50 all time at KU including the cream puffs. Winning record in the league against only one team, only one year with league winning season...if you folks quit fawning over the MM years, I can look to the future nd quit reminding us all how it really was under him.

Welcome Coach, build it.

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danno1313 4 years, 8 months ago

100,

I wish Mack Brown had something fear from Coach Gill and Ku, but I dont see it. UT will still get the 5 stars and we wont. Hate saying it but I m thinking it's true.

RCJKU

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TRUEHEART 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope there is some decency left in the AD's office to clean up a little following the Mangino "resignation". He was painted as a bad guy and villain nationally mostly with innuendo and very little actual facts. Coach Mangino was one of us and always will be, did a lot of great things for our football program which we are proud of and leaves it in much better shape than when he arrived. His departure was handled so poorly and unprofessionally that I fear it may have ruined his career forever. I would not want to be a part of that. Getting rid of him may have been necessary and probably even a good thing for the university and the football program but crippling his livelihood for life is not what I want our university to be known for. Like him or not we owe Coach Mangino for the many things he did for us. We need to take a respectful and responsible position in helping him move forward and be able to get on with his life.

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TRUEHEART 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope there is some decency left in the AD's office to clean up a little following the Mangino "resignation". He was painted as a bad guy and villain nationally mostly with innuendo and very little actual facts. Coach Mangino was one of us and always will be, did a lot of great things for our football program which we are proud of and leaves it in much better shape than when he arrived. His departure was handled so poorly and unprofessionally that I fear it may have ruined his career forever. I would not want to be a part of that. Getting rid of him may have been necessary and probably even a good thing for the university and the football program but crippling his livelihood for life is not what I want our university to be known for. Like him or not we owe Coach Mangino for the many things he did for us. We need to take a respectful and responsible position in helping him move forward and be able to get on with his life. Like it or not 20 years down the road he is going to be remembered as our Orange Bowl winning coach.

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kureader 4 years, 8 months ago

Trueheart, obvoiusly you did the same post twice ... but that's OK ... many should read it twice. Problem is, the damage is done.

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100 4 years, 8 months ago

Donut,

No Division 1 coach gets a 2 million dollar raise.

Why does Texas seem desperate (& why are their fans & staff really ticked off?)

Go check out ESPN or Sports Ilustrated...

Why "give" away 2 million bucks (more) a year when Mack Brown wasn't going anywhere?

Mack Brown would never leave UT...

Something wreaks in Austin & their administrative staff is really pis*ed off!!!!!!!!

(give me a good reason, I'll believe it, just make it real because the only thing I can see right now is it's an incentive raise)...

If this is true, which I presume it is, they are seeing ghosts...

Translation: Coach Turner Gill needs to fly down to Texas ASAP over the next month & hit it hard -- it's the only month Mack Brown won't have to call/ visit recruits as he's preparing for a national championship that his team wouldn't even be in without instant replay!!!!!

He's nowhere in sight!!!!!

Go hit Texas hard Coach Gill!!!!!

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