Friday, November 18, 2011

A familiar foe: KU’s Turner Gill to face off against old boss, A&M coach Sherman

Kansas University coach Turner Gill, left, and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, right, worked together with the Green Bay Packers in 2005 and will coach against each other as the Jayhawks take on the Aggies on Saturday in College Station, Texas.

Kansas University coach Turner Gill, left, and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, right, worked together with the Green Bay Packers in 2005 and will coach against each other as the Jayhawks take on the Aggies on Saturday in College Station, Texas.


Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne may have shaped the way Kansas University coach Turner Gill looked at football, but this week’s opponent, Texas A&M; coach Mike Sherman, helped Gill organize those views.

Kansas prepares for Aggies

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill and linebacker Steven Johnson are looking to stop Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

Although they worked together for just one year in Green Bay — Sherman as the head coach and Gill as the director of player development — the 2005 season proved to be a springboard for Gill as a head coach.

The following year, Gill was hired at Buffalo, where he took the Bulls program from laughingstock to respectability, and, four years after that, he found BCS gold by coming to Kansas.

“It was a good experience,” said Gill, whose Jayhawks will face Sherman’s Aggies at 11 a.m. Saturday in College Station, Texas. “It was my first time being in the NFL. On the outside looking in, you never know what goes on inside, but I think the thing I learned from those guys is they worked hard. They all had their own personalities. They were a close-knit group. They taught me a lot about football and the work they do in the offseason. I think with Mike Sherman, he was very organized in the way he presented things. The way he went about things with the X’s and O’s of offensive football. I had a chance to really zero in on that and organize things if I had the opportunity to be a head football coach.”

Gill’s duties with Green Bay mostly were focused around helping the players make the transition to the NFL and being a liaison between the players and the coaching staff. It was in that role that Gill developed something he still carries with him to this day — the word of the week.

One day, Sherman asked Gill to come up with some inspirational terms that the team could focus on during each week’s preparation. Originally, Gill, who has since narrowed the list down to 26, came up with 75 different words, everything from confidence and perseverance to resilience and passion.

“I gave those to him, and he decided what he wanted to use and then I kind of carried those with me when I became a head football coach,” Gill said during a recent episode of his weekly radio show, Hawk Talk with Turner Gill.

So why 26? Gill said he chose to settle for that number not because he wanted one for each letter of the alphabet but because there are 26 weeks from the first week of two-a-day practices in August to signing day in February.

KU-A&M; by the numbers

Saturday’s meeting will mark the 11th all-time between Kansas and Texas A&M.; The Aggies lead the series, 8-2, including a 4-1 mark at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. A&M; defeated KU, 45-10, last year in Lawrence, and that dropped KU’s Big 12 record versus A&M; to 1-6. The Jayhawks’ lone victory against the Aggies in the Big 12 era came at Kyle Field in 2007, when Todd Reesing and company topped A&M;, 19-11, to move to 8-0 during the Orange Bowl year. Kansas’ other victory against A&M; came in the first meeting in 1974, when the Jayhawks won 28-10 in Lawrence.

Eight honored by Big 12

KU officials announced Thursday that senior tight end Tim Biere and junior offensive lineman Trevor Marrongelli had been named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team for the third time in their careers.

Biere and Marrongelli were joined on the first team by senior Brian Blackwell, junior Gavin Howard, senior Chase Knighton, senior Quinn Mecham, junior Shane Smith and red-shirt freshman Keeston Terry. Blackwell was one of six players on the 134-man first and second teams to own a 4.0 GPA.

Youth movement?

So far this season, nine true freshman have played for the Jayhawks in some form or another, making KU one of the youngest teams in the league. Gill said he liked his newcomers to experience Big 12 football right away and said he would look to continue to develop those guys during the final two weeks of the season.

Asked if that meant exploring putting more freshman on the field in the final weeks, Gill leaned on his commitment to chasing the team’s first conference victory.

“We’re going to do what we feel will give us the best chance to win,” Gill said. “We’ll take into consideration to get some young guys more playing time, but the No. 1 priority is playing the best guys that give us the best chance to win the football game.”


Funhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Fun Jayhawk history – this date in 1968. Source: Lawrence Daily Journal-World (10 cents), November 18, 1968. Page 1 top headline: “Orange Bowl: Kansas Against Penn State.” Author: Chuck Woodling. Partial article: Kansas this morning accepted a bid to play unbeaten Penn State the night of Jan. 1 in the Orange Bowl football game in Miami, Fla. It will be the third bowl appearance for the Jayhawks. (KU coach Pepper) Rodgers and Paterno sparred verbally, and Paterno said: "Pepper, you ought to play (quarterback) again this year." Rodgers replied: "I'll play quarterback if you will." Paterno later said: "Since Chancellor Wescoe is a native Pennsylvanian (Allentown), he wouldn't dare beat us." For weeks, Penn State and Kansas had been the top choices for the Orange Bowl Committee. The Lions were No. 1 on the bowl’s list and one member who scouted several prospects for the other spot said the Jayhawks were "the most exciting team I saw." Penn State, 8-0, has games left with Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Kansas winds up its regular season at Missouri, 7-2, on Saturday. Oklahoma, by winning its last two games with Nebraska and Oklahoma State, could tie the Kansas-Missouri winner for the Big Eight championship. All three contenders have one league loss. Rodgers said KU attention after the Oklahoma loss turned from bowl talk to concern for the Big Eight title. Then he went to a telephonic hookup to make the announcement to some 4,500 KU students who were waiting at a campus rally to hear the final word.

sigephandy 10 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for reminding me that KU was not always a laughing stock in the college football world.

danmoore 10 years, 7 months ago

So bowl games were decided before the end of the regular season. Interesting.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 7 months ago

Unfortunately, we were still the laughingstock of college football...remember the vaunted Kansas 6/6 defense at the end of that Orange Bowl game????

At least TAM keeps their 12th man in the stands!!

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 7 months ago

I love how coach can sum everything he coaches into one word in a week. It really simpliflies his coaching ability.

Let's think of a word to drive inspiration for all of the posters for the upcoming week. What is a good word to describe coach about.....Redonkulous.

Let's get it started with using it in a few sentences: 1) Hiring Coach Gill was a Redonkulous decision. 2) Playing the 3-4 defense with a new DC, who has never coached a 3-4 and when we didn't have the players for a 3-4 is Redonkulous. 3) The ability for Coach Gill to sum all of his coaching abilities into a single word for an entire week is redonkulous. 4) Bringing Coach Gill back for a 3rd season at KU is a redonkulous idea. 5) The record for Coach Gill at Buffalo was ridiculous; however, his record at KU is redonkulous.

Hopefully the word inspires many more posters. It is amazing what one word can do.

rockchalkblock 10 years, 7 months ago

Well at least Gill pulls off that adidas jacket better then Sherman.

LSHawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Gill is all but gone. I think anyone can see that the program is not going in the right direction and Kansas needs to make a change now rather than wait one more year. So the question is who will replace Gill??

flyingfinn 10 years, 7 months ago

One can only hope that you are right. I am not sure that the administration has the guts to pull the plug. Look I am sure that the majority of Gill's detractors such as me know that he is a fine man of good character, he just does not have the skills for a head coach at this level. What I am tired of hearing is that KU can not compete in football at this level. We CAN compete with the right leadership maybe not win championships every year, but the key word here is compete and with this head coach we are not doing that. So please KU find the right man for the job.

danmoore 10 years, 7 months ago

Easier said than done. I'm as disappointed as everyone else but I'll repeat my sentiments. It will do no good to change the captain of a ship until we address the hole in the bow.

Theonlythingthatexceedsyourbad 10 years, 7 months ago

Leach. Anything else with the exception of Tressel would be a failure. Therefore in my mind it's got to be one of those two before the beginning of December or SN and TG both must go! Hopefully SN is a secret mastermind and fires TG and hire ML before the missery game.

In honor of the opposing head coach Leach should attend the game in one of Arrowheads fine suites, proceed to drink heavily, and then take a giant Hummer limo taxi back to his newly purchased estate in Lawrence. . .with his 2.2 million dollar, attainable-winning-incentive laden contract.


David Atchley 10 years, 7 months ago

In such a precarious time where television networks are dictating conference realignments, television contracts are revitalizing beleagured programs (see Kansas) and providing stadium and facility improvement opportunities for programs that are trending up (see TCU) it is absolutely imperative to have your program poised and ready to reap any and all rewards.

The exit of Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M and to a much lesser extent Colorado, provides programs with a tremendous window of opportunity to capture a market share in the State of Texas. The economic times have dramatically reduced disposable income, which translates to an economy of scale never imagined by athletic departments and universities. As a result, television revenue is absolutely critical to the forward motion of any athletic department.

Recruits in the State of Texas will look at opportunities that will allow their parents and friends the opportunity to see them play. What is missed in other states and was brilliantly portrayed in the movie and television show "Friday Night Lights," is in the State of Texas, communities literally still close early to get to the Friday night high school football game. "Stadiums" for high school play in Texas "seat" 5,000 - 15,000 fans every Friday night during football season.

For rivalry games, its nothing to have those games moved to larger venues like University of Texas Stadium, Baylor Stadium, the Alamodome, or Dallas Cowboy Stadium, where its nothing to see 40,000 - 50,000 people in attendance. There is even one high school campus (Todd Reesings' alma mater) that boasts of a $6 million dollar indoor practice field and workout facility. That same school has won the State Championship in their Class, 4 years in a row. .

There has to be a sense of urgency to begin turning a football program around like Kansas. You simply cannot continue to cripple along with a coach from an East Coast conference, with no recruiting ties to Texas (yes I realize he was on Staff in the 90s at Nebraska, prior to the Big 12, but he's been in Buffalo NY since then and that's where his recruiting ties are found) You cannot have University and Athletic Department leadership, much less a Search Committee comprised of non-football people, and not understand this is a "all hands" on-deck and not a "wait and see" and "hope" everything turns-out approach.

The old joke about crossing the State line into Kansas where the billboard welcomes you and says "Welcome to the State of Kansas....please set your watch back 50 years" never rings more true when you see the approach to the football program.

"If you're going to be the best, you have to hire the best."

John Boyle 10 years, 7 months ago

Nice lesson on football in Texas. Although I'm pretty sure almost everyone on this post already knew about the football tradition in Texas. As for Gill recruiting in Texas, that's not a problem for him. He does still have contacts in Texas. His problem is game coaching. Making adjustments, having the guys ready to play at the first kickoff. As far as "if you're going to be the best, you have to hire the best"; 1) who are you quoting? 2) unless you have about $10 million dollars per year to donate then KU will never attract the "best". Its a no win situation.

troutsee 10 years, 7 months ago

KU 30 point dogs. Somehow, bases on team play the past two games, I don't see us getting beat that bad. If we do get beat by 30 or more by both MU and A & M, I don't see Gill surviving. If I were a bettiong man, I'd take KU and the points for tomorrow's game

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 7 months ago

This game scares the crap out of me! I'm afraid we go into College Station and make it a game for a while. Not because of our improvement but because aTm has spent the whole week preparing for their game against UT. Much like Baylor looking past us and onto OU last week, I'm sure aTm is just now introducing a game plan for the Jayhawks.

Theonlythingthatexceedsyourbad 10 years, 7 months ago

Where's the love? Come on you know we lose 59-21. Get your head in the game ahpers!

Theonlythingthatexceedsyourbad 10 years, 7 months ago

Where's the love? Come on you know we lose 59-21. Get your head in the game ahpers!

justinryman 10 years, 7 months ago

Uh NO, we wouldn't!!!!!

Ot cause he has a drinking and driving issue, but ah it's where he comes from. You don't hire from your rival.


justinryman 10 years, 7 months ago

Oh no the typo Gestapo are out.

Sorry the Ot was to be "Not" and the but ah, is correct. Like a light bulb turned on.

Sorry that I was not up to your standards of posting today. My bad.

John Boyle 10 years, 7 months ago

Wasn't trying to be the grammar police, just trying to figure out what you were saying. And for the record it's aah not ah.

Upholsterit 10 years, 7 months ago

I think Gill gets a third year. I just want Z to make the best decision for us going forward.

oggerr 10 years, 7 months ago

So Turner Gill learned from Mike Sherman how to take a football team with some talent and teach the players to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and to become a bad football team! Atleast Turner Gill is not a drunk driver like some other football coach in the news today!

justinryman 10 years, 7 months ago

Now as posted above, (jhwkfan162515) how sweet would it be to not only beat A&M before they exit stage East for the SEC, but ending the season 2-0 beating MU too. Giving them both a swift kick in the arse on their way to the SEC.

Now that would be whole heartedly funny!!!

vd 10 years, 7 months ago

Congrats to the All Americans. I wish the coaches would have played Blackwell at least one play on his Sr. day.

gardenjay 10 years, 7 months ago

KU has a chance - this will be a fun game, come on boys, give us a game!!!


Calijhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Gill is not the problem. Not having the time to replace Torbush with a D-1 DC IS. Shealy is not a D-1 DC, didn't originally sign up to be one, and justly or unjustly will be the sacrificial lamb if the Gill staff is retained.

I keep telling people from experience...defense is about aggressive reaction. The only way a good defense can be built is by giving the kids a consistent system and repping it enough so that they can react correctly to what they see. This can't happen if you have freshman and sophomores adjusting to D-1 speed of play, and the juniors and seniors in their third system in 3 years. The most talented DB we have is only now beginning to feel comfortable enough in his reads to be effective, and he is starting to play very, very well.

All we need is a high-end DC to stabilize this defense into one system and eliminate the freshman/inexperience errors that result in quick scores. Then Gill's ball-control running game with an excellent stable of running backs can be effective, instead of having to scrap the game plan early because we're behind.

The idea of starting over, losing 5-8 good players to transfer, recruiting this year from behind the 8-ball, and installing yet ANOTHER offensive and defensive system is, to me, idiocy. Let's see what Gill can do when he has a top-notch DC...let's pay $800,000 for that instead the $8M would take to buy Gill AND HIS STAFF out. If things don't improve next year, THEN we are in a better financial position to make the change, and we will know for sure that Gill was the problem, and not the lack of a DC.

AzNHawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Great perspective and post especially since you've stated in another article that you've suited up in crimson and blue through the Bud Moore era.

I'm all for keeping Gill for year 3 and hiring on a top notch DC during the off season.

Kirk 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm in agreement with this idea IF we get a "top notch" DC. I also think it should be someone that could be strongly considered as next-in-line if Gill doesn't work out, which he sure as hell won't. But I like buying more time with him for now if we can take this approach.

On the other hand, if Leach or another strong head coach candidate seems genuinely interested in coming here -- something only zenger and a few others would learn behind the scenes -- then by all means hire that person in december.

Bville Hawk 10 years, 7 months ago

OK, CalliJay, you have convinced me. Who do we get for DC?

AzNHawk 10 years, 7 months ago

I read that Randy Shannon is looking to get back into the game. He did OK at Miami as head coach, but as a DC he had their defenses ranked among the top.

Kirk 10 years, 7 months ago

Actually, if we can really get a "top level" DC....let's make him the head coach.

beenahawk 10 years, 7 months ago

If we hire a new DC, the defense WILL be starting over. Your argument for retention dies right there. As for 5-8 transfers.....just exactly who is it that will jump ship? You are simply speculating in hope someone will listen.

Calijhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Anytime there is a coaching change, expect to lose anywhere from 3-10 players. Some of these may make no difference at all. A couple might, especially if Gill was the primary reason they signed to play here. Look for freshman that did not redshirt. JaCorey Shepard is one I would be worried about.

Good, experienced DC's have started fresh at numerous stops, either as a position coach or a DC. They know how to evaluate the skill sets of carryover players and assimilate them into their own. Sometimes it is simply a matter of terminology.

The problem with this group is that they have gone through 2 total system overhauls, and the year they didn't do that, they changed the base look...which changes everything. I know why Shealy did it...he saw us thin in the defensive line, and saw more linebacker/hybrid possibilities. The downside is that gap responsibilities and blitz stunts are different. The big learning pressure is on the secondary -- responsibilities in the 3-4 change with the offensive formation...sometimes 2 to 3 times before the snap if the set changes or a man goes in motion. Tough to digest against some of the best offenses in the country.

texashawk10 10 years, 7 months ago

I honestly do not understand the fascination with Mike Leach coming to KU. From what I see, based on Leach's tenure at Tech, him coming to KU would end in failure. Why, let's look at why Mike Leach would be a bad hire.

  1. Mike Leach's offense is one of the most pass happy there is and he has a total disregard for the running game. Does KU have enough WR's who can catch or even a QB that can throw the ball 50+ times per game and be effective? Not that I've seen. KU is built to run the football 40+ times per game and throw 20-25 times per game to keep opposing defenses from stacking the box.

  2. Texas Tech routinely had one of the worst defenses in the Big 12 under Leach and considering how bad KU's defense is now, Mike Leach would only make the defense even worse.

  3. Is KU going to be willing to pay Mike Leach the $2+ million necessary that will be required to hire him?

Nothing about Mike Leach adds up to being a good fit for KU to me. Same goes for June Jones. KU needs a head coach who will emphasize good, fundamental defense to keep opposing teams in the 20's and 30's because it's much easier to upset teams when you don't have to put up 50 points a game to do so. Why were the early Mangino teams as competitive as they were? It certainly wasn't the offenses because those were pretty ugly, but rather it was Bill Young's defense that kept opposing teams scores lower and allowed KU to hang around.

SCJayhawker 10 years, 7 months ago

At the begining of the month all the players were given shirts that said, "Remember November". I wonder how many of those shirts have been found in the athletic depts dumpster behind the football offices? I wonder what the players will remember most about November........Not winning a game? ........Blowing a huge lead..........Turner Gill getting the axe...........An empty Memorial Stadium...........Start of basketball season...........

Calijhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Want names? Pete Kwiatkowski at Boise State makes $340,000. Double it. Randy Shannon. Jim Heacock at Ohio State will be available after this year. Tom Bradley at Penn State will be looking for a job, and he would be gettable -- higher profile programs might pass on him, and he could come to Lawrence and be under the radar for a few years. Steve Russ is highly regarded

Also, the next move is to hire Mike Clark, at KU grad, as strength and conditioning coach. Mike is currently with the Chiefs, and would love the opportunity to come to a more stable situation in his hometown. Do not underestimate the effect losing Chris Dawson, who was tied to Mangino has had on our decline, and K-States rise when Snyder hired him back.

bjejayhawk69 10 years, 7 months ago

Getting a top notch DC is unlikely since Gill is viewed as a lame duck coach and KU's program has been the butt of national jokes. KU would have to way over pay for one and knowing there is a good chance Gill's contract may have to be bought out it all seems unlikely. I am more upset Gill would agree to Shealy switching to a 3-4. Strong minded and well rounded head coaches have their pulse on all aspects of a team - not just offense and thinking up the word of the week. The most discouraging thing with Gill it seems he more concerned all this extraneous word of the week stuff and reciting his BELIEVE principal then game planning, preparing and game coaching. That is really all I ever see and hear when he is interviewed or when he speaks. The emotion he showed on the sideline Saturday was the only time I have ever seen him any where close to fired up. Not that you have to be that way all the time but do it when appropriate and needed. Football is a game of emotion and momentum. Kids will follow that.

Thanks for agreeing to the effect of not keeping Chris Dawson. That heavily impacted 2 programs. One + and one -. Just another blunder that has helped to sink this program.

Geekinout 10 years, 7 months ago

Halftime score a&m 14-10. End of game score a&m 42-10.

Gary Wirsig 10 years, 7 months ago

Way to go Iowa State - beat OSU in 2OT. Our close loss in Ames is looking better.

beebe1 10 years, 7 months ago

You are right. Trouble is, no one recognize 'effective schemes' on our whole staff -- apparently including the AD. For that kind of money, maybe we could get the best DC in the pros!

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