It never hurts to see how closely you’ve been studying your favorite football team’s new coach during Tuesday news conferences he uses to communicate to the public.
Each week, Turner Gill will:
a) Use the phrase “from that standpoint,” at least a half-dozen times.
b) Mix in “per se” more than once.
c) Cite a statistic that speaks to the past experience and/or success of his coaching staff.
d) Answer at least one question with “all of the above.”
e) All of the above.
The correct answer is e) All of the above.
Gill’s most interesting staple, going out of his way to praise his staff, leaves us guessing why he does so. First, let’s look at how he does it.
Week 1: “I just want to make one statement about our staff. That is probably the one big thing that we have going on in this football program right now. We have an outstanding staff. ... 225 years of experience as far as our coaches go. I know that we are somewhere in the top of the country when you talk about years of experience with our coaching staff.”
Week 2: “I know our staff is going to be the ones to help us move this program forward. They’ve coached over 123 NFL players. We have experience. We have guys who have been through the ups and downs. That’s why I feel very, very good about our staff and moving forward.”
Week 3: “Just one little tidbit about the staff together. They’ve coached 93 all-conference players.”
Week 4: “Our coaches have coached 75 bowl games. So again, I’m always going to bring up something about our staff because I think it’s a very, very special staff and I think you’ll continue to see our staff do things for our football team, not only this year, but also in the future.”
Gill’s motivation? For one, he might just be proud of the staff he has assembled, but it’s likely more than that. It could be his way of letting everyone know it’s not fair to judge him and his staff purely on what happens this year on the field. Transition years that include implementing new systems always present a difficult challenge. This one’s off to a rough start in the on-field communications department.
Plus, different coaches have different beliefs in terms of what sort of athletes they like to recruit.
Gill proved his recruiting ability by getting a number of proven recruiters to say yes to him. KU recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell held the same position at Illinois and Michigan State and knows how to communicate with teenagers. Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt, lured from Southern Miss where he was offensive coordinator, long has had a reputation as a hard-working recruiter whose honesty resonates with recruits. Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt cashed in on his wide array of recruiting contacts while working for, among other schools, Texas A&M;, Alabama and Nebraska.
Parents of prospects who follow college football would be thrilled to have Gill and/or Chuck Long, a pair of Heisman finalists, in their living room.
This staff has the potential to upgrade recruiting so that better seasons than this one — which still looks as if it’s headed for 4-8 — will come.