This time next week, there's a good chance that KU football will be in the market for a head coach. Those of you that have read my comments know that I have been in Coach Gill's corner since he was hired. I am still generally supportive of his plan, although it goes without saying that his results have been very poor.
The question now is whether a coaching change will help or hurt KU in both the short and long runs. I am unsure on both fronts.
In the short term...
Yes, a coaching change will probably pump life into the program, even if it is only very briefly. A change will appease a large portion of alums, boosters and fans frustrated by the blowout losses. Those are all good things.
On the other hand, though, a coaching change after only two years on the job for Coach Gill is a red flag for any potential coaching candidate out there. Remember, Gill inherited a KU team that was losing its all time leading passer, top two receivers, it's #2 rusher from the previous season, the entire LB corps and its top DB (and defensive leader). This from a team that had gone 5-7 (1-7). Yes the losses have been embarassing, but was there any way to predict that KU would have done better than 3-9 or 4-8 last year anyway regardless of coaching? Would a young KU team have done much better than 3 wins this season, regardless of coaching? And regardless of the answer to those two questions, will any established coach (Houston Nutt or the equivalent), or any up and coming coordinator (Brent Venerables or the equivalent) want to risk his job security knowing that he will only have a 2 year window to improve on field results?
Further, Gill has, by all accounts, done very well on the recruiting trail. Will axing him harm the relationships built by this staff with key coaches in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and here in Kansas?
Moving to the long term...
If KU can't land a big name (and it's unlikely that we will), there is no guarantee that we won't be pondering another change in 2-3 years. To have the program on its 4th coach in less than 7 years could be potentially devastating long term.
Missouri moving to the SEC changes their recruiting dynamic. The change of the Big XII structure alters the scheduling considerations for KU. Simply put, we have to be prepared for a Big XII world where we have to match up with OU, Texas, TCU and OSU every single year. There will be no backing into the Big XII title game, as KSU has done before. There will be no magical run to the BCS without having to play any of the other traditional powers like we did in 2008. That means that we have to legitimately plan to compete with those schools, and the only way we can do that is to recruit against them.
I don't know if Turner Gill will be head coach after this weekend.
I don't know if he's the right man for the job.
I don't even know if there is a legitimate replacement out there.
I do know that if he is fired, that's where the questions really begin.