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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kansas football turns page, looks to future

Head Kansas football coach Turner Gill said the month of November will give the Jayhawks an opportunity to improve.

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Kansas University’s football team, which has lost six games in a row and been outscored by an average of 55-21 in those losses, has found a way to flip the focus in its favor: by turning the page on the calendar.

“I just wanted to talk about what I am telling our team and our coaches as we finish this season,” KU coach Turner Gill said in his opening remarks at Tuesday’s news conference. “First of all, I am just telling them that it is a new month. We are looking forward to the month of November because it is about how you finish. We need to finish this in a positive way.”

KU will carry a 2-6 overall record, 0-5 in the Big 12, into Saturday’s game at Iowa State.

Although Gill has proven to be an open and honest man no matter the circumstance, he turned to some frequently used cliches to get his team going this week.

“Basically, he wants us to forget about all the games we’ve played up until this point and just start over from scratch,” senior cornerback Isiah Barfield said. “The season starts 0-0, and we want to look at it that way, rather than we’re coming in on a losing streak. We want to come in with the same passion that we had at the very beginning of the season and win the month of November.”

Considering how things have gone lately, that sounds like a pretty good game plan. Although it has long since been forgotten, Kansas opened the season 2-0 and racked up 981 yards of total offense — 554 on the ground — and 87 points during the season’s first two weeks.

Despite recent struggles, offensive coordinator Chuck Long said the Jayhawks did not plan to make drastic changes and would continue to emphasize the running game.

“We don’t want them to change their attitude,” Long said. “Right now, we like where we’re at, offensively, as far as attitude. But we’re implementing a new game plan, and we expect a good week of practice.”

Attitude may not be changing, but expectations are. Sunday, the day after KU’s 43-0 loss at Texas, defensive coordinator Vic Shealy informed KU’s players that they should expect to see a new coaching style during the next four weeks.

“The coaching staff isn’t going to change who they are just because we’re losing,” said Barfield, translating the message. “But coach Shealy said he’s going to coach as hard as he can because we really need to win this month. If the younger players can’t take that, then I don’t know what to tell them.”

Added Shealy: “When I said that to our football team, it wasn’t geared just to the corners. It was kind of geared to our defense. As coaches, we have to stomp the gas pedal down.”

While the task of forgetting about the past sounds simple enough, the players, who have felt the pain of every blowout loss and every failed opportunity, said it would take some work.

“It’s not easy,” junior linebacker Tunde Bakare said. “But it’s not as difficult as people make it. Basically, when things don’t go your way, you gotta start over again and just make sure you do it right the second time. And I think we can do that in November. I think it’s just not accepting anything but perfect. If you do things wrong, it’s not going to be like, ‘Oh well.’ You don’t get a second try in games. I think this week’s gonna be like, ‘You either do it right or you don’t play.’”

Why defer?

Winning the opening coin toss has been pretty common for KU this season. Until Saturday, starting the game on defense had not. Prior to the game at Texas, KU had won the toss in five of its seven games and elected to receive each time. Saturday, the Jayhawks again won the toss but this time chose to defer. Asked why Tuesday, Gill hammered home the theme of the week.

“That was mainly for change,” he said. “I think we were talking about the third quarter and just trying to do something a little bit different. We wanted to see if that would make a difference in how we would come out from the opposite side of it, having our offense have the ball versus our defense. A small victory, if you want to call it that, because there were some pluses that come out of it compared to what he had been doing in the third quarter.”

CB to de-commit?

The fallout from a disappointing season and uncertain future already might have made its way to Kansas.

Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) cornerback Daniel Gray, 6-foot, 170 pounds, who committed to KU in May, told Rivals.com Monday that he was on the verge of de-committing.

“I’m not really solid (with Kansas),” Gray said. “I’ll put it out (Wednesday) whether I’m still committed or not. I’m going to take a trip to Nebraska on Nov. 25. That’s going to be the first official visit I take.”

Others may follow. Gray told the website he had offers from Florida International, Mississippi and Texas Tech. North Carolina and Tennessee also have shown interest.

Gray is one of eight commitments that KU has landed from the Class of 2012.

Sunday night, Gill was asked if he thought KU’s six-game losing streak had hurt recruiting. While his answer may have been true at the time, it now seems clear that things are changing.

“I haven’t had anything in a negative way or anything of that nature at all,” Gill said Sunday. “Everybody’s still interested, the people we’ve been on, and we’ll see how it all shakes out. Everybody understands in recruiting and life and football and sports, you have ups and downs.”

Comments

tortfeasers 2 years, 5 months ago

Seems we should turn all the pages, skip November, and look toward a less embarrassing 2012. Recent post from a Minnesota fan who appears relieved to know the Gophers aren't the worse football team in an AQ conference. That distinction, by his estimation, goes to the Hawks. See link: http://www.firejerrykill.com/2011/10/31/who-is-the-worst-aq-conference-team/

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chalky 2 years, 5 months ago

YEAH! We are 0-0 now! Lets go win the north!

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Kc Ticketguy 2 years, 5 months ago

I just thought of something. Remember when MU hired Frank Haith and we all laughed it up thinking what a dumb hire..Who is this guy and what does he bring to the table? Well Turner Gill = Frank Haith (- the violations of course). Everyone in the country is laughing at us for hiring a person who obviously isn't up to the job.

Gill has done nothing other than be a good quarterback himself and have one good season at Buffalo. We got totally screwed by Perkins.

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LngTimeFan 2 years, 5 months ago

How about a head Coach who actually coachs during the game instead of being dead emotionless during time outs. How about a Coach who has a clue. Forget about the losses?!? He has to think we will all have amnesia at season end. Huge mistake hiring this guy, regardless of who hired him. Buy him out (many of us will gladly send in $ for that purpose) and get someone who knows what they are doing, that sure isn't Gill. Before the "haters be hatin" crap comes, I don't hate Gill. He is incompetent and has to go.

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squawkhawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Why can't we just close the book?

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IrishDaddy 2 years, 5 months ago

keep skipping down the yellow brick road girls...............

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gardenjay 2 years, 5 months ago

I think KU would do a lot better without the downers provided by its ostracizing fan base. The team does poorly, gets criticized, and what, they feel good again and get ready for next week? Maybe in pro ball, but these are still kids.

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manginorh00lz 2 years, 5 months ago

"Although Gill has proven to be an open and honest man no matter the circumstance"

This HAS to be sarcasm. lol

+3 Tait

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tauck 2 years, 5 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even as awful as we are, there has got to be a great coach out there that doesn't mind building a program while making 2 million dollars a year!!!

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Michael Maris 2 years, 5 months ago

How about with the B-East struggling to keep their Football Goldent Ticket, I would think that Skip Holtz has to be re-thinking his thoughts about taking the S. Florida job.

Skip comes from the College Football Pedigree and has a winning record as a head coach at every stop he has made. So, would Skip be interested (this time around) in interviewing for the Kansas Football Headcoaching position?

I would sure hope so. Larry Fedora might be alot more interested now (as well).

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hihawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Just waiting for the big shoe to fall, with gill in it.

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JayhawkGrad05 2 years, 5 months ago

With the title, "Kansas football turns page, looks to future", I was hoping to open this article and see the quietest firing of a coach ever....boy, was I disappointed...

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AzNHawk 2 years, 5 months ago

And here is why I feel that way:

Quoted from this article:

"During his six years at ISU, Zenger had plenty of opportunities to leave, but always decided to stay. That is, until Kansas called.

“I learned that it was important to learn what it felt like to make decisions in year one, two, three and then live with those decisions in year four, five and six,” he said. “In today’s world, that’s something people often miss. I now know and have the benefit of seeing how early decisions in your tenure affect what you’re trying to do in year five, year six and so on. What I learned was don’t make knee-jerk decisions about personnel. Observations you make early on in some cases are dead-on. In other cases, if you’d have had more time you’d have found out things were different.”

He continued: “I know from the outside it can look so obvious, people say, ‘We need to just trim, trim, trim and cut, cut, cut.’ But if you cut the wrong person or dismantle the structure in the wrong order, then the whole thing falls down. We have to remember that three short years ago we won the national championship in basketball, we won the Orange Bowl. We were considered one of the elite programs in the country. And, actually, we’re still considered that.

“There will be change in this department over time, but you have to be consistent with your message, and you have to treat people the right way, inside and outside.”

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AzNHawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Something tells me that since Zenger knows football or has been a coach (head coach, position, assistant, i dont remember what football title he had) that he might give Gill a 3rd year and the backing necessary to re-tool and rebuild the defense. With the stipulation that in 2012 it's improvement or else.

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Fred Davis 2 years, 5 months ago

Can someone explain to me why there is so much disdain towards Zenger? Everybody clowned him during the realignment mess because he wasn't texting fans and alumni the play-by-play of what was happening and it looks like the Big 12 is here to stay for the foreseeable future....

And as far as the football team is concerned - there are four football games left, what's he really going to do to move the football program forward in the next four weeks? The dude has to get what, $6 million together when/if he decides to fire Gill and then come up with who knows how much more for a new guy? Yeah, that shouldn't be a problem... Please. Give the man a break. He didn't hire Gill, he'll do the right thing, let Gill play out the season, and he'll more than likely can him at the end of the season. Don't knock the Zeng... He'll get this thing figured out.

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AzNHawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Supposedly, it was reported that Leavitt also tried to lie about that situation as well. Until an investigation was done.

KU has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons that involved the ticket scandal and such. I would think that the university would want someone with a cleaner image.

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rcjallday 2 years, 5 months ago

I doubt Leavitt would be a good hire. He got fired for punching a player. That'll make recruiting significantly tougher. Plus, his teams were notorious for starting out well and then tanking later on in the season.

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hihawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Replace gill now, he wasn't that good at NU when he was coaching there. Ku got blindsided with Perkins, Osborne and gill. The people in Nebraska could have told KU that. Even I could see it. gill is losing recruits because they can see that his program in going in the dumpster and he will not be there long, who would want to come into a situation like that? The longer this goes on the worse it going to get and more expensive.

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Mike Barnhart 2 years, 5 months ago

Kevin Sumlin!!!!

Texas ties. Big 12 roots. Houston dominates week after week. Finds great QB's.

What's there to think about. He's the man!

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Robert Brown 2 years, 5 months ago

Jim Leavitt is probably a more likely candidate than Mike Leach. SZ used to work for Leavitt. I don't know he Leavitt, Leach and Mangino are damaged goods. It is not going to be easy to find a new coach. Anyone who has been successful would not come to KU and any rising assistant coach could be a bust as a head coach.

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haydenhawkco 2 years, 5 months ago

I saw Mike Leach yesterday in Tucson at a sandwich shop! I hope he was there playing golf.

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rcjallday 2 years, 5 months ago

Also, why is the coin toss part of the article? I doubt that has any impact on the game. "If only we had won the coin toss, we might have won the game." We're really reaching for stories.

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AzNHawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Gill got a decent recruiting class amidst a 3-9 season. Decommits do happen alot and there just words. I dont put too much emphasis on that until the LOI (Letter of intent) is signed.

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rcjallday 2 years, 5 months ago

Decommits happen all the time in college football. It's being blown out of proportion due to the losing. Also, sure it's coach speak, but every coach in America does essentially the same thing. Fans are pasting him for trying to motivate his players, which is ridiculous. He isn't making excuses nor is he complaining. If he was ranting and raving, fans would find fault in that too. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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jayhawkintx1973 2 years, 5 months ago

To finish in a positive way? In other words, is the goal to not lose by more than 21? Would that be a positive way?

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mustlehustle 2 years, 5 months ago

Again....the first question by the "crack" search committee assembled by Kansas and the AD from Illinois State, is "how many tier 1 and 2 high school football players have you successfully attracted to a program you were coaching and please show your work."

The bigger issue is in the SEC and the top teams in the Big 12 consider their football program "the front porch to their University." There has to be a united front from the President, Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, and most of all, the deepest pocket KU boosters. Most of all, the State of Kansas has to make sure Kansas has all the construction materials it needs to build a front porch.

You don't accomplish this with a no-name HC who's high school coaching ties are tier 2-3 players in the Northeast. You don't get Kansas fans to rekindle those feelings they had when Todd Reesing was getting them on "Sports Center" on a regular basis, with this level of play and rhetoric. You don't get this with a :multi-purpose" stadium.

A lot of these kids being recruited from Texas are playing their high school games in stadiums that are jammed-packed with 10,000 - 20,000 fans. Key matchups in regular season and District and Regional high school games are being played in venues like UT Stadium, The Alamo Dome, and the State Finals are being played at the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium. Todd Reesing's high school alma mater "Lake Travis" has a 6 million...that's right, 6 million dollar indoor workout facility and practice field.

When you find yourself in a hole...the first thing to do is stop digging....The University of Kansas, its officials and fan base, have to decide if they want a football program, and if they do, they need to get some very forward-thinking, aggressive, key people at the helm. You are not going to get deep-pocket boosters and every day Williams Fund donors to dedicate any disposable income to the level of play and commitment to the program represented.

The current cast of characters, from Search Committee, President, interim AD, etc...decided a Missouri Valley AD, who's program last played in a playoff in 2006, and a Coach from the University of Buffalo were the answers....I am not sure they had a grasp on the landscape that is college football, much less what the question was being asked.

"If you're going to be the best...you have to hire the best." Please put Mike "Leach" and Chad Morris on that short list.

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bville_hawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Not promoting Mike Stoops here, but was just looking at the circumstances of his mid-season firing at Arizona. He was 1-5 at the time, but the scores were all competitive (at least a lot more "competitive" than the ones we have been putting up).

I suppose the advantage of a mid-season firing is that you can officially start your search immediately. Has any school that's done this ever announced the new coach before season's end? You could probably only do that if you were hiring someone who was out of football. If you were going after an FBS coach or a BCS top assistant you would have to wait til season's end to announce.

If you hired someone from out of football mid-season could they start to work immediately? Has that ever happened in major college football? It's kind of MLB-like, but our circumstances are rather dire...

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Jaminrawk 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm not even worried about losing recruits at this point. If KU brings in a capable coach and staff, players will come. I don't blame recruits for being wary of KU at this point. This team is awful and things look bleak with Gill. Any new coach needs to be concerned with getting some JUCO talent in here unitl the youngsters we already have develop a bit. That's how Bill Snyder has done it and that's how Mangino did it when he got here.

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martyks 2 years, 5 months ago

This has been a disaster. There's no excuse for the level of play. I've seen ends covered better in touch football games, and there was more tackling in those touch football games too. I'm serious. That isn't a joke. I see no reason to keep Gill in place. There might be good reasons. I just don't see any. Which direction is this program going? It appears to be in free fall.

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Kc Ticketguy 2 years, 5 months ago

“But coach Shealy said he’s going to coach as hard as he can because we really need to win this month. If the younger players can’t take that, then I don’t know what to tell them.”

"WE REALLY NEED TO WIN THIS MONTH"
What does this even mean? Don't you REALLY need to win every month? Is somehow this month more important than last month, or the month before that?

"SHEALY SAID HE'S GOING TO COACH AS HARD AS HE CAN" Has he not been coaching as hard as he can? Has he been somehow holding back his "hardest" coaching for when the team really needs it? I'm not a coach but I assume when we are getting blow out by 40-50 a game every game you might want to pull out all the stops and coach as hard as you can...

The content of this article is just stupid. I'm so tired of this coaching staff. They have proven one thing to me this year. That they aren't up to the task of coaching in the big 12.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years, 5 months ago

They seriously need to consider bringing someone in right now...before the season's end if they are indeed considering replacing Gill & Co.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 5 months ago

Things should really open up for us this month. We will only face:

A team desperately needing a win against us to (try to) become bowl eligible that is playing with the most confidence because of a huge road win.

A guy named RG3 who will be looking to pad some stats

The 12th man.

Our most hated rival that will be looking to send a message because it could be the last time we ever play them.

Cakewalk!

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bville_hawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the O and D Coordinators have been given the green light by TG to be tough and demanding and hold players accountable for the next couple weeks to see how that works?

Just a thought (or maybe a hope?).

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 5 months ago

At this point I'm not sure what else the coaches can say, but it's all meaningless. We have absolutely no reason to expect anything from this team now except more embarrassment and futility. And now that we are starting to lose commits (and what a shocker that is, eh?), the wheels are now officially coming off of the Gill-Train. Zenger has already said he won't do anything until after the season is over, so all we can do is sit back and watch as this mess implodes. It's unbelievably frustrating.

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blackhawkjayhawk 2 years, 5 months ago

I do hope that they turn it around. A bad loss to ISU would probably seal the coaching staff's fate. To keep his job, Gill will need at least one win combined with a close loss and a respectable loss. It is possible. However, if recruits start de-committing, it's over.

Bring in June Jones.

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actorman 2 years, 5 months ago

All meaningless drivel at this point ...

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 5 months ago

I must say reading this article, i can't even figure out what the assistant coaches are saying. We aren't going to do anything different, and than in the next sentence they talk about changing.

The truth of the matter is that they have tried everything they know, and they just can't make the adjustments that are needed in Big XII football.

One thing I hope I am reading through the lines about is that TG said in November they really need to win. I hope SZ has basically said that if you don't win, we will be invoking the incompentence clause in your contract. I must say that if you can't win any games and go on a 10 game losing streak without any adjustments at all, I would invoke the incompetence strategy.

Additionally, when you have like 12-13 scholarships available and you haven't even been able to fulfill those and now you have 1-2 players of 8 starting to quesstion their commitments, I think TG is on the hotseat even more. I would say that TG has to start realizing he is in trouble, but my impression is that he is so clueless, he probably thinks everything is hunky dury and that he will be happy with a 2-10 season.

We don't want you Turner Gill...Go Away!!

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minipman 2 years, 5 months ago

o wow.. does that mean they are finally going to have the corners jam the recievers at the line.. its only taken half the year to figure out that what they were doing wasnt working. they should of known to change the coaching style after the first game..

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kusportsdotcom 2 years, 5 months ago

If I were a recruit, I'd look at it one of two ways. First, my future team sucks so I'm going to be able to come in and have an impact right away. Two, my future team sucks so I better look elsewhere. Unfortunately I think the latter situation will apply to a lot of our recruits.

It's not even simply the fact that we're not good that would deter recruits. It's the fact that Gill is on the hot seat. I'd be hesitant if I were a kid about choosing a school where there could be an entirely new coaching regime when I arrive. I'd like a little bit of certainty before committing. Oy, KU football. It's a mess right now.

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