Sunday, August 1, 2010

First-rate reputation: Big 12 peers praise first-year KU coach Gill

Kansas university coach Turner Gill watches the jayhawks’ spring game on April 24 at Memorial Stadium. From his previous football experiences, Gill has already developed a sterling reputation in the Big 12 heading into his first year in Lawrence.

Kansas university coach Turner Gill watches the jayhawks’ spring game on April 24 at Memorial Stadium. From his previous football experiences, Gill has already developed a sterling reputation in the Big 12 heading into his first year in Lawrence.


Though he’s been at Kansas University for just seven months, KU football coach Turner Gill has been around college football long enough to make a pretty solid name for himself.

Never was that more evident than earlier this week, at Big 12 media days near Dallas, when many of the league’s coaches and players shared their feelings about Gill, one of two coaches new to the Big 12 this year.

The relationships ranged from business-like run-ins to lifelong friendships, and it was clear that Gill, who has yet to coach his first game in the conference, was familiar to just about everyone.

Few connections ran as deep as the one between Gill and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

“You know what people don’t get,” Stoops asked. “I actually tried to hire Turner Gill as my first offensive coordinator out of Nebraska. He was comfortable and excited about what they were doing and couldn’t (leave). So, anyway, just from competing against him in the past, he’s always done a great job.”

After Gill turned Stoops down, the OU coach turned to Mike Leach, who spent one year as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma before leaving for Texas Tech and giving way to Mark Mangino. When Mangino left for Kansas, Stoops handed the keys over to Chuck Long, who now serves as Gill’s offensive coordinator.

For Stoops, a four-year starter at defensive back at the University of Iowa, the familiarity with Gill extends to the field, as well.

“I remember him as a player,” he continued. “I played against him as a player. He killed us, too. But I think he’ll do a great job, and I’m excited to see him in the league.”

Others, such as Texas A&M; coach Mike Sherman and Nebraska boss Bo Pelini, painted a glowing portrait of their experience on the same sideline as Gill.

“Turner coached for me in Green Bay in our player program development, and he’s just a quality person,” said Sherman, who was the head coach of the Packers from 2000-2005. “I think he’s great with kids. He did a great job in our program, with our players, and I’m sure he’ll do a fine job at Kansas.”

Gill spent one season in Green Bay, helping players make the transition to pro football, along with assisting the wide receivers coach and serving as an offensive assistant.

In Nebraska, where he starred at quarterback in the early 1980s, Gill and Pelini worked together in 2003 as assistants to Frank Solich.

“I coached with Turner and I think he’s a good football coach who has done a great job,” Pelini said. “Being from back in Ohio, we are familiar with Buffalo and how far he took the program. It just goes to show he’s a great football coach and I think it’s good to have him back in the conference.”

Another man familiar with Gill’s time at Nebraska is Baylor coach Art Briles. Although Briles has only been a college coach since 2000, he was there, on the front porch, when a man wearing all red came to see his son, Kendal, that year.

“I’ve actually known Turner for a long time; you know he’s a Texas guy,” said Briles, a native of Rule, Texas, which sits about 175 miles northwest of where Gill grew up in Fort Worth. “He actually recruited my son when he was at Nebraska. He didn’t go there but that wasn’t (Gill’s) fault. He was there at 8 a.m. the first morning you could see him.”

Kendal Briles wound up signing with the University of Texas, where he played safety for two seasons before finishing his career as a wide receiver at Houston after his father was named head coach.

While a handful of Big 12 coaches shared memories of their personal experiences with Gill, others spoke of knowing him only on a football level, choosing to talk about brief encounters and what they’ve heard from others. Even those recollections had a common theme.

“Turner and I have a professional relationship, seeing each other at clinics and places like that,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, last year’s new kid on the block in the Big 12. “His character, integrity and reputation are beyond reproach. He’s just an excellent, excellent human being and a good football coach. He’s proven that already.”

Added Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who, like Gill, was a standout Big Eight quarterback in the 1980s: “Turner and I have been friends a long time. Obviously, because of our jobs, we don’t hang out much. I probably see him two or three times a year. But I have a lot of respect for Turner and look forward to him being in the league with us.”

Though things will most certainly change during the weeks that these coaches line up against Gill and the Jayhawks this season, the overwhelming message conveyed by Gill’s Big 12 counterparts this week in Dallas was one of admiration for what he has done already and what many expect him to do in the future.

“I have a lot of respect for him, professionally and personally,” Briles said. “He just brings a lot of class. He’s a class guy, he’s a great football coach and he’ll be a great representative for Kansas University.”

Pelini agrees.

“KU, I think they’re exciting,” Pelini said. “I think (having Gill) brings a little jolt of energy to the program. I’m excited for Turner. Obviously he thought it was the right situation for he and his family, and I think he’ll do a good job.”


mulaza 9 years, 6 months ago

how does that saying about nice guys and where they finish go?

KCHawk81 9 years, 6 months ago

It's good to have you back, Az, but why the new handle? I believe the saying you're referring to indicates that Mangino was a heck of a nice guy last year.

tical523 9 years, 6 months ago

Don't really know what you are asking with that grammar. . . but I think you are trying to say this article is all about Gill being a nice guy, but nothing about how effective he is going to be as a coach. I would say the article was written to point out that he is a good dude and connects well with people. That is what the article is about, there will be plenty of articles written on how good he is winning and losing. Are you simply saying you don't think an article should be written about his off the field attributes, and those qualities don't equate to winning???? I am just curious, and then curios why.

Eliott Reeder 9 years, 6 months ago

This article is all fluff. What else are they gonna say, Turner Gill will be a horrible Big XII football coach? Not likely. They are going to say how great he is, how well he works with kids, how wonderful a recruiter, etc. Then they are going to try their best to destroy us on the field. I think Gill is doing a good job so far, but nobody really knows. It is going to take a couple of seasons to really assess his ability as a Big XII (Big X?) football coach. I hope we have an adequately successful season and the doubters lay off a little. The debate on Mangino/Gill is based on a simple premise: "hard-nosed coach" vs. "player's coach". The thing is, there is no definitive answer to that debate. There have been accomplished coaches of each ilk. Nothing to do but wait and watch...

JBurtin 9 years, 6 months ago

Nothing wrong with an article that shows all of the connections that he has with other Big 12 coaches. I actually found it to be interesting to see how many of these guys he has run across at one time or another.

As for their comments I would say that in general coaches are going to say something positive when asked about a colleague, so these type of comments wouldn't surprise me if our coach was Tuberville, or someone else that was on our short list. I would dismiss them if it weren't for the fact that everybody who meets Turner Gill (including myself) says the same thing.

He just has a way of putting out positive energy to those around him. I try to do the same as much as possible, but coach Gill has perfected the art.

Funhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Wouldn't you rather have a coach who respected his players, rather than insulting them? Playing a sport is like working a job. How do you feel when your manager treats you like trash? Do you feel like working harder when you know your manager respects you? Or, does fear of your employer motivate you?

kranny 9 years, 6 months ago

You can't make chicken soup out of chicken poop. Simply put, if Gill brings in the players KU will be competitive. So far, it sounds like the recruiting priorities are in place. The game is won in the trenches and those are the players Gill is going after-even 3 star recruits in that area. That bodes well for the team. One knock I had on Mangino is not recruiting enough bona fide trenchplayers- but simply converting other position players and teaching them the position while in college. Like running backs, you can never have enough linemen.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 6 months ago

Doesn't mean a thing until the season is underway and he starts winning games.

Omari Miller 9 years, 6 months ago

In the end, wins and losses will spell the major merit of the head coach at any program worth anything. But to say that the head coach's character isn't worth anything is rather short-sighted, especially given the scandal-ridden nature of the NCAA ranks these days.

Jeremy LeMaster 9 years, 6 months ago

This is probably the best post I have seen on here.

Get Soobawls a free t-shirt or at least a bottle-opening keychain!

bradh 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad to see Coach Gill is thought well of by his fellow coaches, but as others have said, what the other coaches said is coach speak. They would say something similar about any coach in the position, including Mangino who is the complete opposite of Gill.

What I found most interesting was Stoops and the OU program. Seemed like they were losing an offensive coordinator every year, yet still managed to play at a national championship level every year despite installing new offenses. That's pretty impressive and something I hope we can duplicate in the future.

actorman 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't see what the point of this article is. After all, as all of Gill's critics have pointed out, the only thing that matters is that he was 20-30 at Buffalo. Clearly he should be fired for that reason alone -- so what if he hasn't coached a game at KU yet ...

HawkNationNWichita 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree. Coach Gill should of been fired. He took a great program and ran it into the dirt. The coach before him had an 8-49 record in 5 seasons. Lets look at some things that show Coach Gill should of been fired. Coach Gills first season was 06, so lets start with 05.

YEAR. RECORD. CONFERENCE. OUT CONFERENCE 05. 1-10. 1-7. 0-3 06. 2-10. 1-7. 1-3 07. 5-7. 5-3. 0-4 08. 8-6. 5-3. 3-3 09. 5-7. 3-5. 2-2

In 08, that was Buffalo's first winning season since 96 and also their first MAC title. So the numbers don't lie. He turned a national championship caliber team to nothing. He should of been fired on the spot.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 6 months ago

The nice thing about this article is that it is a reminder that we don't have Lane Kiffin for Coach, embarrassing us right out of the gate with verbal miscues. We also find out he turns down OC job at OU, knows just about everyone and everyone seems to think highly of him. Wonder if any of the linebackers he ran over ever told him he was too much of a nice guy to be doing that?

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