Monday, November 29, 2010

After rough 2010 football season, Jayhawks optimistic about future


Though it might seem the end of such a rough season would bring a little relief, that wasn’t the case for Kansas University’s football team.

In addition to the sadness of saying goodbye to 20 seniors after Saturday’s 35-7 loss to Missouri in Kansas City, Mo., the end of the 2010 season marked the beginning of 2011.

“It’s a continuing deal, evaluating our football team and also recruiting,” said Kansas coach Turner Gill, who finished 3-9 overall and 1-7 in Big 12 play during his first season with the Jayhawks. “Recruiting’s always going all the time. We’re all disappointed. We didn’t win this ballgame. We didn’t have the season we would like to have had. Guys are sad, too. Especially the seniors. The last time you put on that uniform, that’s a different feeling.”

But because this was such a young Kansas team — KU’s season-ending, two-deep depth chart featured 20 sophomores and freshmen — there were very few tears in the locker room following Saturday’s loss and a heavy dose of optimism about the future.

“It’s definitely been a hard season,” senior Chris Harris said. “We’re very young. We had a lot of new coaches. The way (former KU coach Mark) Mangino ran his (program) is totally opposite of how coach Gill ran his. So it’s something that we had to get used to. But I see a bright future here, and the program is just gonna go up.”

Some of that mind-set came from the fact that so many key players on this year’s team are scheduled to return in 2011. Most of it, though, came from something much more important.

“It’s not the way we wanted to finish, 3-9, sending our seniors out on that note,” sophomore safety Bradley McDougald said. “But, I mean, we fought all year. We stuck together; that’s the main thing. We just gotta come in next year (ready to work), and it starts right now, the offseason. That’s gonna be the biggest thing, making sure guys are getting bigger, faster, stronger for next year.”

Sophomore cornerback Greg Brown agreed with McDougald and said, if anything, he was upset, not relieved, the season was over.

“I felt we played with harmony and came together and played as hard as we could,” Brown said. “We’re ready for next year. We start workouts next week, so I just hope everybody goes hard.”

Added Gill, asked if he knew how long it would take to get things going in the right direction again: “I’m anticipating next year. I don’t know what’s gonna take place with the wins and the losses, but we will be a better football team next year. We will get this thing turned around.”

Recent history is not exactly the best indicator for what’s ahead. Of the last three head coaches to lead the Jayhawks — Glen Mason, Terry Allen and Mark Mangino — Mangino and Mason each improved dramatically during their second seasons. Mason opened 1-10 in 1988 and followed that up with a 4-7 mark in 1989. Mangino started 2-10 in 2002 and jumped to 6-7 in 2003, which included a trip to the Tangerine Bowl.

Allen, on the other hand, finished 5-6 in 1997 and dropped off to 4-7 in 1998.

Gill, who improved from 2-10 to 5-7 from Season 1 to Season 2 at Buffalo, offered up the following evidence for why he believed the best is still ahead.

“I can’t say every game we had the same intensity,” he said. “But I thought our guys played hard in every ballgame. They were in tune with what we were doing. They were engaged with us as a coaching staff. I like the way they came to work on Sundays and Tuesdays. They were ready. Their eyes were focused on us, and they were like, ‘Give me information. Teach me. Teach me.’ And that’s what we want to see from our guys.”


HawkfromHays 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry but I'm sick of people comparing this year to Mangino's first year. When Mangino got here the cupboard was bereft of talent, the facilities were a joke, and there was no interest in the program. He took us from laughingstock to respectable. Gill was hired to take us to the next level. He inherited top-notch facilities, a wealth of talent compared to what Mangino found when he arrived, and an energized fan-base 3 years departed from witnessing a BCS Bowl win.

Instead of elevating us to a new plateau, we have regressed, and I hate to say it but the team was worse than its record indicated. During most of the year the players looked confused, out of place, and generally ill-prepared for the games. Whatever discernible game-plan was in place was pitiful and ineffective, and it seemed as though no adjustments at all were made at halftime (KU's worst quarter was the 3rd every game). Really, if not for teams playing their third-stringers, we would have been shut out in 2-3 games this year.

I don't see much hope for the future, especially when you can't find it within yourselves as "motivational" coaches to motivate your players to even compete with your two biggest rivals.

jaydee909 10 years, 10 months ago

Gill was to take us to the next level as in coming from losing 7 straight games to end the 2009 season,. Is that what you mean?

ampthatman 10 years, 10 months ago

If being competitive, but still being a loser helps you sleep at night...

Kirk 10 years, 10 months ago

Actually, being competitive fills the stadium. Fans like to think their team has a chance to win the game. That's why they attended the games under Mangino.

It's also why KU fans stayed away from Arrowhead in droves.

jaydee909 10 years, 10 months ago

Mangino did not take us to a bowl game his first year either. Sat through a 55-20 drubbing that OSU gave us that year. KSU beat us 64-0 that same year. Sat through a Texas Tech slaughter of us in 2008 when were suppose to be better. We had a miracle fourth down play in 2008 against Missouri courtesy of Reesing and Meier that kept us from losing 5 out our last six that year.

Without a doubt, Mangino elevated our program and I appreciate what he did. But let's give Gill the same opportunity we gave Mangino. See OSU and Nebraska, two ranked teams, as games that were not over at halftime to use your comparisons.

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Both coaches inherited a sub-par program with no tradition of winning the big game.

The last time that KU won its conference was in 1968.

Mizzou beat us in 2007 to play in the Big 12 Championship game. Despite their loss, they should have been in the Orange Bowl that year - not KU.

We gained facilities, some moderate success, an Orange Bowl victory, and an interested fanbase under Mangino and Perkins.

Now we need someone who can use what we gained in order to bring in the talent needed to be an elite program.

Once that step is complete, we will need to find the elite coach who can do it all.

I'm not sure that Gill is the coach that we need for Step 3, but he was brought in to fulfill Step 2 - with the hope that he will also become the coach needed for Step 3.

GridironHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Let's not forget who lead us to the 12-1 season and a Orange bowl victory.... And that was Todd Reesing & Aqib Talib. Those are the two most important positions on a football team. I'm not saying the other positions aren't needed but no other spots can be dominated by a single player like QB & CB. We had a CB that could be left on an island and defend anyone without needing help (plus make a few key plays like a pick 6). A QB who had the ability to always make something out of nothing. He made an average line look amazing. Defenses also had to scheme around him which allowed average RBs to also look amazing. Name two guys on this years team who even come close to those two players. Recruiting will determine everything. As soon as Gill is able to pull in his Reesing and Talib then things will brighten up for KU football. If Gill's recruiting at the other positions is even better, who knows where he can take KU football.

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

"At least with Mangino the team had a gameplan that allowed them to be competitive"

Fact: We don't know what the situation would have been this year had Mangino still been coaching.

hailtoku 10 years, 10 months ago

I can tell you we would have won more than 3 games... would not have lost to NDSU and would not have gotten slaughtered by KState and Baylor.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 10 months ago

Mangino's 2002 roster was actually not that much different than Gill's. The talent was there, but it was very young. Gill inherited very little talent that had any experience.

Marc Frey 10 years, 10 months ago

I call not having a QB who can play D-1 Foorball a "bare cupboard." We lost some pretty good talent from the 2009 team. I really do not think we had much talent at all if we are having players switch positions the last week of the season. If Pick, our former QB and "great athlete" is one of our best WRs, then we are in trouble.

newjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

amen to that brother!!!! that was a very either a very bad experiment or a joke!!. I know the coaches know better than that!

mphawk27 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious what everybody means when they say Mangino left us with 'a wealth of talent'. What Mangino did was handcuff this years staff with a terrible season that is mostly his fault. Instead of recruiting to make sure this year would not have been a disaster, he did not plan to make up for this significant losses we took from graduation/early departures last season. Let's look at exactly what Gill inherited:

Overall, he inherited a team that lost its last SEVEN GAMES IN A ROW, and they did this WHILE they had the most productive quarterback in school history in Todd Reesing, two of the best receivers we've ever had in Briscoe and Meier, as well as most of our linebacking corps, and several losses on the offensive and defensive line. While Gill was able to successfully maintain most of the recruits Mangino had coming in, we can see now that doesn't mean they were quality recruits. For crying out loud people, let's get off HCTG's back and have some patience. This isn't a fast food restaurant, you can't just order a winning season and have it right away, these things take time to cook.

mtdewjunkie 10 years, 10 months ago

what he didnt have was a qb to run his offense, or an o-line or ...and where are you getting this 2* before mangino got here info? most of the recruiting services (rivals, scouts,) didnt even exist or publish anything until mangino got here. side note: everyone needs to take football recruiting rankings with many grains of salt...especially the older ones...if a notre dame scout was at a high school game it gave every kid playing an extra star.

jburvee 10 years, 10 months ago

Nice thoughts! Well stated. Turner Gill was a bad hire

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 10 months ago

I would disagree with the statement that Gill inherited a "wealth of talent" compared to what Mangino inherited. I guess the talent on the team is better this year than it was Mangino's first year, but after losing key players from last year, from a team that otherwise wasn't very good...I wouldn't call it a "wealth." Although I saw many, many, many terrible things this year, and was very disappointed, as someone who has experienced a certain level of college football myself, I would definitely say that I saw some major improvements in the way the players played and competed over the course of this year. It's just a shame that the "cush" B12South schedule we were supposed to have this year (OSU, A&M, BU) was actually extremely competitive and nationally ranked for the most part. Who would've thought we would have preferred TTech, Texas and OU over the alternative? Would've still gotten beat, but there would be one less top 25 team in that mix... I'm looking to see who Gill is going to bring in this off-season and who he can get to commit for the next. Word on the street, that I've been hearing at least, is that the players love to play for Gill, and when you get a program of guys he's recruited for his system's purposes, who love to play for him, his system may work. Besides, everyone's already saying we're basically locked into Gill for 3-5 years, so we might as well give him a chance. Don't really have any other options. Unless you just get your jollies off of complaining and being angry...personally I don't...

hawk316 10 years, 10 months ago

Tom Keegan had a great quote in another article which should put things in proper perspective:

"It wasn’t until Todd Reesing strained his groin and played hurt for much of the 2009 season that it became evident how many holes that Reesing had masked existed on the roster, a problem that became greater after Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Darrell Stuckey left."

So, Gill had quite a challenge. But I agree with those who feel that there is reason for much optimism. Given the great success and track record that Gill's staff has enjoyed in recruiting, along with the young talent that will return, I'm excited for the future!

mtdewjunkie 10 years, 10 months ago

i know i have posted this before but you really need to go back and look at the roster from mangino's first year...if i remember there were at least 10 players on the 02 team who spent time in the nfl...not exactly "bereft of talent"

flyingfinn 10 years, 10 months ago

I could not agree with you more HawkfromHays this program is in a shambles. Those Turner Gill lovers who think a coach needs to be a players best friend versus instilling motivation and toughness to be competative at Division one need to wake up, football is essentially war and why do we have tough drill sergeant prepare our troops for battle, because you need to be tough to win. We need to find a coach who can prepare players for the toughness of a Div 1 game or continue to play mamby pamby with players and maybe move to a touch football league ya jackwagons

DaNeille Dani Davis 10 years, 10 months ago

lol Love your respons! I couldn't agree with you more!! I think Gill needs to bring the cussing back! These aren't little girls he's coaching. These are mean machines that need to be treated as such! Go KU!

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow! So what you're saying Matt, Gill's season next year, according to Buffalo standards, should be, let's say, 5-7, instead of 3-9. Oh, yeah! That gets me excited!

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

What's more annoying? turner gill is still "evaluating" his team, or these freaking discount websites that are on every article?

Maracas 10 years, 10 months ago

Gill's making $2M a year guaranteed for 5 years. He'll say anything to keep that cash cow mooing.

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Ah----can't get away with the advertising! Priceless!

swjhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I've watched KU football for 49 years. It's not hard to tell a good team from a bad team. I've sure seen a plethora of bad ones. It's also easy to see that unless there is an avalanche of good recruits, this program is going nowhere, as in years past. Our forays into success are few and our failures are many. Next year, possibly the year after, will tell the tale of whether or not the football program can climb out of the basement.

yates33333 10 years, 10 months ago

Next season will be determined by Gill's and Gill's assistants' abilities to recruit. He needs to get into Texas and California and line up some top 50 of each state's high school seniors. Were he could recruit in the deep south!!

hammerhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

What on earth gives anyone even the barest hopes for KU football next year???!!! What kind of star players are going to come to this program??!! This coach thinks players are boys that need a "family" and he intends to be sure that they grow up "nice boys".

I would much prefer treating the players like the men they are. Set reasonable expecations and stick to them. But please, don't think everyone needs to be in teh same small hole. Players at this level want a coach who coaches wins on the field. The coach, my firends, is THE one to lead real players to the land of WINS. Just ask the OK bunch. Or the NE bunch. You get my drift.

And golly, please put the players names back on the Jerseys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

No, he believes that the parents want their kids to go to a program where they (the players): Are going to be safe Are going to stay out of trouble View the team as an extension of their family - in all possible positive ways Are going to be successful - at football, at academics, and at life in general

How many players come from bad areas? How many have witnessed substance abuse or physical abuse tear families apart first-hand? How many would be the first in their family to graduate from college?

I don't know the answers to those questions, but I would guess that the percentage is relatively high. What I do know is that those points have been major selling points in KU's favor by Bill Self.

(...more to come after I resolve some computer issues...)

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

One thing that sets Self apart from other coaches is his general demeanor, but that doesn't stop him from getting on players when it's necessary to do so. Gill's general demeanor is quite similar to Self's. Gill needs to get better at communicating with the media, but that comes with experience - and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some help from Self.

Top recruits usually want: Playing time The ability to start immediately To win To be successful/make it to the NFL * A place where they feel comfortable

There is not much that Gill can guarantee, but he can guarantee that a top recruit has a good chance of starting immediately if the recruit fills in gaps in the team.

Note: I agree that some of the policies may be rather ridiculous, but it is possible that they are necessary in order to get the right mentality going throughout the team. Let's not forget that athletes - especially football and basketball - have a tendency of getting media attention because of bad decisions, and those decisions can have a long lasting impact (for them and for the school).

2Bnamedlater 10 years, 10 months ago

So was it the curfews? The White shoes? The faunt on the Helments? No names on the Jersey's? The infaltable tunnel? Is that where all the hate is coming from?

Or is it coming from a bunch of people that still have thier t-shirts that read, "KU Football, a tradition since Sept. 2007"?

I get it this season was a let down, but compared to last years? This season was right on par. Last years team was to win the North, go to a bowl game, and as each game went so did the team. They fell apart, they quit fighting for each other.

This year, they got stronger as a team, played together, sure it wasn't a great season, but what did really expect? No one said that any coach would make us 12-0 at seasons end. Why was that I wonder????

Look you can have 20/20 vision in hindsight and say KU should have hired this guy or that guy. But they didn't. So instead of leaving a game midway through the second quarter stand behind the young fella's on the field and cheer them on. Maybe it wasn't the staff, but the lack of crowd support that caused this season to be so bad.

What? Looking in the mirror hurt to much?

Mangino_Maniac 10 years, 10 months ago

lol... yup, the lack of crowd support is the reason for the dismal season... good grief.

By the way, I think the same 'faunt' (or font) was on the helmets when we won the Orange Bowl a couple years back.... just saying.

2Bnamedlater 10 years, 10 months ago

Sarcasm is so missed in typing. But that is my point, there are 150 reasons why this team was bad this year. To point it at just Gill, is plain rediculous.

Now if this team has the same record next year and the year after, then yes it is just the coach and his staff, but I will not blame the staff and some of thier ideas on this dismal season.

Mangino_Maniac 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't see a mulititude of various reasons as you do for the dismal season, but instead one major issue, and that is the overall tone and style being implemented by Gill and his staff. The culture of KU football is anemic due to the new coaching staff, and that is THE primary issue with things.

All the specific items discussed and commented on are just indicators of the bigger problem, which again is the approach & style of this new coaching staff. After an entire season I still feel the same way as after week one and losing to NDSU... Gill isn't a big time college coach.

I said last winter we should be flying Tuberville in here immediately, but Perkins had/has his fascination with Gill, and any other names mentioned were not given any serious consideration. We could have hired a former SEC coach with an amazing record at Auburn, but instead Perkins had to have a guy who went 5-7 at Buffalo... still makes no sense what-so-ever.

But I'm sure Gill will be building great realationships with his players with the time he has with them over the holidays, while the Red Raiders will have to settle for Tuberville prepping his players to go to a bowl game after finishing 7-5.

mtdewjunkie 10 years, 10 months ago

i like tommy also but tech was 9-4 last year...its not like he turned around a program down there.

Mangino_Maniac 10 years, 10 months ago

True, but for comparison a 7-5 record is the same as Gill's best season at Buffalo, so I think Tommy did rather well in his first year... and he beat Missouri. ;-)

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

The staff - especially Gill - is clearly responsible for some of the problems.

Also, even with major improvement in the off-season, we may still be looking at only a 2-10 season next year. The games may be closer, but a competitive loss is still a loss.

And we definitely aren't improving our record unless the QB play improves significantly.

Ben Kane 10 years, 10 months ago

hopefully our O-line will be better next year. it doesn't matter who the qb is if he doesn't get 2 seconds to throw the ball.

Layne Pierce 10 years, 10 months ago

What we should see next year is clarity and sharpness. Players have to get used to new coaches and new schemes. Maybe our team is a bunch of slow learners. It would have been easy for Gill to have come in and said we are going to just do everything like Mangino did. He had the guts to go for something better. I think sink or sail, Gill is going to do it differently. I think the vision he sees is a team that year in year out wins, and one that is always competititve. My question is does he know how to get there, and can he do it with the kind of players he is likely to be able to get.

I am still confused by why we did not run the ball more with a fullback. It would have made us a little stronger, helped to set up play action passes, and provided more protection for the quarterbacks.

Also,we need to see our window of opportunity for victory for what it is. Under Mangino it was score 28 give up 27. If that is the model Gill is using then that means we have to improve from averaging 18 points a game to 28 that is a big jump. Defense also often gave up more than 27. In fact on average 34 points a game. Ball control looks like the only variable that can quickly change both of these statistics. To do that we need a vastly improved offensive line.

Defensive tackles need one person who can cause problems for the defense. O-line and D-line that is where we are gonna make or break next year. I see in the stats that Dent who was listed on the depth chart did not make a single tackle?

One thing that drives me crazy is if somebody is on the chart then get them in the damn games, or just leave it blank.

rob4lb 10 years, 10 months ago

It doesn't take and NFL scout to determine that KU's talent is not comparable to other Big 12 schools. The other schools are bigger, faster and stronger. Is that the coaching staff's fault. Our starting quarterback wanted to go to MU and never got a look. There is no comparison between Gabbert and Webb. Mangino NEVER took advantage of the Orange Bowl year to upgrade his recruiting. One writer theorized that Mangino, being an overachiever type, recruited similar athletes and did not feel comfortable with 4 and 5 star athletes. That makes sense to me. These players have to be motivated differently.

Let's be objective. The Reesing era was relatively successful because Reesing, Meier and company were able to outscore mainly inferior opponents. After Bill Young left, the defense was always horrible and during the last two years with Reesing, the O-line was nothing to brag about. How many times was Reesing running for his life and force to ad-lib? Take away the 12-1 year and Mangino basically elevated KU to a middle of the Big 12. Other than 2007, Mangino never had another winning conference record. He never beat the Big Boys in the South - UT, OU and TT and most of the time it wasn't even close.

It's revisionist history to say that Mangino elevated the program to a sustained Top 25-30 level. It's all about recruiting and talent and it is not there. We need to see if Turner Gill and staff can bring in bigger, faster and stronger players. If he can, the coaching staff has a good track record and we should see positive results.

stuck88 10 years, 10 months ago

First of all, Great Post! other than one great year KU hasn't really done that much. I am very disappointed in this year, but I believe that Gill has the right supporting cast to take this program to new heights and having many winning seasons in the future. To all the people that want to use Gills record as a coach at Buffalo to evaluate how good he is going to be. All I have to say is that when he played at Nebraska, Nebraska was a powerhouse, so i'm guessing he learned the ins and outs of how to build a winning program. We have some big OL recruits coming in along with speed at RB and DB, not to mention we are getting some recruits from Florida and California which will help to land better players from these states in the future.

JayhawkBigXII 10 years, 10 months ago

From here on out, the schedule will be a lot tougher. Take a look at next year! If we beat McNeese State and Northern Illinois...2-9... maybe. Any takers?

Mangino_Maniac 10 years, 10 months ago

The boyz from Northern Illinois are 10-2 and currently #25 in BCS... not sure that will be a victory next year unless they have a ton graduating, etc.

newjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

McNeese St. could turn out to be our NDSU of next year! Those kids are much better than you think! They gave LSU all they could handle for a one half before the weight of they Tiger overtook them. They are as big and physical as any D1 program that you'll ever lay eyes on. I have watched this program year after year and they are good!

JayhawkBigXII 10 years, 10 months ago

Jeeeez! I was hoping for at least 2 wins...maybe.
0-11? Any takers?

rob4lb 10 years, 10 months ago

No doubt, the new Big (12-2) will be much more competitive for KU. The long term pecking order looks to be: OU, UT, A&M. MU, OSU in the top half. Historically, you would expect OU and UT to be at the top, but the other three have clearly upgraded their program the last 5 years, something KU, under Mangino was not able to do. Texas Tech and Baylor are unknows. What will happen to Baylor when Robert Griffin leads- will they have sustained success? History says probably not. Texas Tech will probably remain solid, but a notch below the Top 5. I believe the bottom three will be KU, KSU and ISU. I'm not impressed with KSU even though they killed KU this year. This year's team had a worse conference record than last year.

I'm sure each school has plans to upgrade their program. To become bowl eligible, a team like KU will have to win the non-conference games, beat KSU and ISU, hold it's own against TT and Baylor and pull an upset against one of the Top 5. That's certainly not impossible.

hailtoku 10 years, 10 months ago

Gill is making about 1 MILLION DOLLARS per WIN.

arkhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Whether the cupboard was empty or full or half full is not the issue that concerns me. This team was not in physical condition to play more than one half of football in the majority of games. We need a coach (leader) not a talker. This was not present this year. After Gill arrived I read about all the great recuits he was signing. This reminds me of another program which every year during the off season talks about their great recuits and the player dedication to winning. But talk does not win games and that program has not improved in several years. They continue to be the best off season team (in their own minds) and one of the worst in the won-lost record. I will be very surprised if next year is not more of the same for KU football. I hope not but if it is it is time to buy out the contract and find a winning head coach.

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