Saturday, November 26, 2011

Matt Tait’s football notebook: Jayhawks ‘believe in Turner Gill’

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill prepares his team before the Border War against Missouri on  Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill prepares his team before the Border War against Missouri on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 24-10 loss to Missouri on Nov. 26, 2011.

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KU coach Turner Gill press conference

KU coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 24-10 loss to Missouri on Nov. 26, 2011.

— Kansas University football coach Turner Gill said after Saturday’s 24-10 loss to arch-rival Missouri that he believed he would be back at Kansas for a third season in 2012.

Many inside the Jayhawks’ locker room shared that opinion.

“I do,” said junior safety Bradley McDougald. “Until I hear anything else, I expect coach Gill to be my coach.”

KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy was a little more passionate in his defense of Gill and his coaching staff, which has led Kansas to an overall record of 5-19, including a 1-16 mark in Big 12 play, during the past two seasons.

“I believe in Turner Gill,” Shealy said. “I think he’s a very bright man that understands exactly how it should be done.”

Asked if concerns about Gill’s future had become a distraction for the team in recent weeks, Shealy said the Jayhawks simply had been too busy to concern themselves with that.

“Really, you don’t think about much other than trying to make sure that, come Saturday, you have a plan that your players can execute,” he said. “Now, at 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning, sometimes in your private thoughts, are you human and you think about it? Yeah.”

The topic of Gill’s future also came up in the opposing locker room, where MU coach Gary Pinkel said he did not believe coaches should be fired after just two seasons.

“If that was the case, they probably would have fired me, too,” Pinkel said. “I wasn’t the most popular guy my first four years here. Two losing seasons, then 2003 went to a bowl, and 2004 I did the worst coaching job I ever did. And then one bowl in three years did not look real good. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions, but obviously he’s a very good football coach. He’s a colleague and a friend, and I don’t think there’s any way you can make a decision on a program in two seasons. It rarely is done, because a lot of people (would) have missed if they did that.”

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger offered no new comments after Saturday’s loss and has stuck to his previous statement on the matter, which came after KU’s 59-21 home loss to Kansas State.

“We continue to evaluate the program on a week-by-week basis at the University of Kansas,” Zenger said on Oct. 22. “We will never make a complete evaluation until the season is over and the body of work is in.”

End of the road?

Although Saturday’s game likely was the final football game in the storied history of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry — at least for a while — the victors were not shy about sharing their disappointment.

“I would absolutely love to continue to play Kansas,” said Mizzou wide receiver T.J. Moe. “It’s a fun game. It’s a big game. Everybody cares. Have you seen them play that hard this whole year? They were in it. We were in it, too. We were out there fighting. I’d love to continue the rivalry, and they need to find a way to convince them to do so. It can’t be that hard, you know.”

Pinkel also expressed disappointment over the potential end of the Border War.

“I hope that doesn’t happen,” he said. “There’s got to be a way to work that out. Iowa and Iowa State work it out. They go around the country to different places. They try to maintain these kind of rival games. I think, without question, this thing can continue if both schools decide they want to. It’s not real complex, I don’t think. Make it work. We’re certainly willing to do that, and you’d like to keep this rivalry going. Hopefully, people get together, and they do what’s right. I feel that can happen.”

KU officials said throughout Missouri’s conversations with the Southeastern Conference that if the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC, it would mark the end of the rivalry.

Miller does not play

Gill said freshman running back Darrian Miller, of Blue Springs, Mo., missed Saturday’s game because of a one-game suspension for violation of team rules. Miller, second on the team in carries (136), yards (559) and touchdowns (four), was informed of his suspension Thursday.

“He’s a good football player,” Gill said. “He would’ve helped us. But (his absence) wasn’t the reason why we lost the football game.”

Matthews’ rise continues

Although sophomore wide receiver Christian Matthews never fully took over for starting quarterback Jordan Webb during Saturday’s loss, he did take more snaps than normal and looked good doing it.

“In the second half, that was going to be the plan, to incorporate him in there some, and it was successful,” Gill said. “We had a chance to move the ball a lot more than we had.”

Matthews finished with a career-high 31 yards rushing on six carries and also completed his only pass for 12 yards. It marked the first completion of his career and the first time he had thrown out of the Jayhawk formation all season.

This and that ...

The Jayhawks won Saturday’s opening coin toss and deferred their choice to the second half. Missouri elected to receive the opening kickoff, and the Jayhawks started with the ball in the second half. ... The Jayhawks recorded three interceptions in the same game for the first time since 2008. ... Senior linebacker Steven Johnson led Kansas with 10 tackles, giving him 124 for the season, the most by a Jayhawk since Nick Reid recorded 133 in 2003. Johnson’s double-digit, single-game total marked the eighth time he achieved that feat this season. ... Saturday’s game marked the final collegiate contest in the careers of 15 Jayhawks. ... Temperature at kickoff was 44 degrees, under cloudy skies with winds of 10-15 mph from the north.


kusportsdotcom 10 years, 6 months ago

What do you expect the players and assistants to say? "You know, I really think Coach Gill is gonna get canned tomorrow." Yeah right.

okiedave 10 years, 6 months ago

I hope you are wrong. Gill can coach, but you need talented football players. We have some good talent and a lot of them are Freshman recruited by Gill who got their feet wet this year. Gill needs another year to recruit his players. Gill needs one more year to turn it around. I believe Gill can and will recruit talented players.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 6 months ago

I would love to know what all these "violations of team rules" are.Didn't someone else sit last week for the same reason?

The head coach of the other team gets a DUI and gets a one game suspension, wonder what our guy did that was comparable.

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

I love the weather report on the last line. Thanks.

Why was Mathewes not in there the entire last half of the season? I only saw him throw one pass all season and it was much better than Webb. Webb constantly throws short. Hell, Matthewes was falling back and had a guy in his face and still musseled it to pick.

And people thus game and team has ZERO to do with recruiting. Coaching and coaching alone cost us this game! Many times this season there have been "big" plays that we needed to step up and make. Such as a 3ed and 4 vs Baylor in the 4th quarter. I even found myself saying (sometimes out loud) "This is a play good teams need to make" or "if we want to take the next step we need to make this play". What happened with Baylor droped ball. Today we had one of thoes plays it was 4th and inches in the first half. It was a "crossroads" play where we had the chance to prove that we were getting better but what happened we took a time out and then jumped off sides!! That all comes down to coaching.

The people that feel it's not Gill it's the recruits BS!! Here is proof: what 5star recruit is recruited for his unbelievable ability to long snap? Not a single one. There are 1,2 star recruits and even walk-ons that can long snap just as good as any 5 star. It's lack of coaching, focous and dicipline. Same story with 3ed down vs Baylor and 4th down in the first half today. And that's what we have been getting all season and it flat out cost us the freaking border war.

If you really feel this guy should get another year you are clearly not watching the same thing as myself and the majority of fans out there.

Sorry for any errors this is typed on my I-pod and hard to edit.

VaJay 10 years, 6 months ago

"musseled it" you mean like a clam ??? I didn't know shellfish could become a verb...

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Yes just like a clam and it can be a verb.

VaJay 10 years, 6 months ago

World English Dictionary mussel (ˈmʌs ə l)

— n 1. any of various marine bivalves of the genus Mytilus and related genera, esp M. edulis ( edible mussel ), having a dark slightly elongated shell and living attached to rocks, etc, 2. any of various freshwater bivalves of the genera Anodonta, Unio, etc, attached to rocks, sand, etc having a flattened oval shell (a source of mother-of-pearl). The zebra mussel , Dreissena polymorpha, can be a serious nuisance in water mains

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Last line above. Any thoughts on the game?

WilburNether 10 years, 6 months ago

You're right! It was the COACHES who jumped off sides!!! It's all THEIR fault!!! Our players are all wonderful and bright and talented, and NEVER make mistakes! Only the coaches do!!!

Geez.....some people.....

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Why do we make mistakes ALL THE TIME!?!? It's blown coverage, missed blocks, droped balls, bad routes, fumbles throwing into double and triple coverage It's all that stuff. If a team is well coached they don't make thoes kind of mistakes. Example: K-State. "Some people" do you watch the games? Our offence didn't score a single point. The field goal was special teams and it was only b/c an interception. There is only mistakes and yes it is the coaches fault! How can it not be? If we have better talent than NDSU and lose how can that not be coaching? "some people" need to open their eyes.

Bryan Mayes 10 years, 6 months ago

Better "talent" does not translate into beating teams with "less talent". (See Miami Heat, Philadelphia Eagles, etc...)

Then again, I suppose Eric Spolstra and Andy Reid are to blame for all of those problems

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Ok should a NBA team beat an NBA DL team? So we can't beat teams with more talent and we can't beat teams that are less talented. What does that say?

Bryan Mayes 10 years, 6 months ago

That we are not a good team. That there is a host of issues with the team. Coaches, players, everyone. I don't disagree that the coaching is a problem, but it is not the only problem.

hog 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with you on your comment about Matthews, I think he should be given a chance, nothing bad against Webb but Matthews imposes more of a threat at passing and running the ball

gulchhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

I love coming on here and hate it at the same time.....reading the comments of frustrated jocks or ones that never strapped one on....having coached at the high school level and many Div I players...a program is not made in 2 yrs...I for one "as a true fan" am frustrated at times, many times, but I support Coach Gill and his staff and better years are coming.... Not sure Webb is the QB of the future, but there are some good football players on this squad... Either support the program or find someone else to hate...Rock Chalk Jayhawks

Gary Wirsig 10 years, 6 months ago

Thank you gulchhawk for a voice of reason. The Hawks have their problems, a combination of players and coaching, but the hate is getting old. Even Jesse Newell in his gameday coverage gives in to not-so-subtle digs to Gill. If Gill stays another year, I don't look forward to the posts by the crowd with a two word vocabulary, i.e., "fire" and "Gill".

But to be fair to aforementioned crowd, neither do I look forward to weekly beatdowns.

Kevin Studer 10 years, 6 months ago

We support the program. That's why it stinks so much to watch it go down in flames. Not supporting Turner Gill and not supporting KU aren't the same thing.

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Shoul I have supported Lew Perkins also? Another guy we should have never hired in the first place?

hawksince51 10 years, 6 months ago

While it is not easy, I tend to agree with you. At the time we hired Gill and gave him the generous contract, I had my reservations given his modest results at Buffalo. However, having made the decision to hire him I agree with you and Pinkel that he deserves enough time to show whether or not he can build a decent FB program at KU. So far he has shown an improvement in recruiting at least based on the rating gurus. We need to give him enough time to develop these recruits. I also feel that while we won neither game, we did manage to play better against BU and MU. It is a bit of a reach but I count this as some sign of improvement.

Marc Frey 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree. Years of recruiting 1 and 2 star players, with an occasional 3 star thrown in takes it's toll on a program in the Big 12. We have a former walk-on that lead us in tackles! Doubt UT, OU, OSU, and A and M have that issue. Add to that, the revolving door that is the office of KU head coaches, and that is how you get the culture that KU Football demonstrates. None of us should be surprised when all of the professional sports writers, who watch the practices and Spring games, picked us to go 2-10. Yes, we all are upset at how we played to get to that 2-10 record but are we suprised? We need a QB that has talent, not one that wins because he is "less of a liability". I think Gill should get one more year.

jhawk23 10 years, 6 months ago

Despicable season. Embarrassing.

But Gill does deserve at least half of the 2012 season to show substantial improvement.

Bryan Mayes 10 years, 6 months ago

Give him the whole thing or don't bring him back at all. I have been at the front of the line voicing my displeasure with the coaching this year, but I also think two years is not enough time. Whatever the decision is, I think it has to be one made with ferver and confidence. Either say, you have one more year to show this program is moving in the right direction, or start over (again) right now. I think firing a coach mid season is the WORST thing a program can do barring some legal or other major problem.

In response to cmill, I disagree with you saying this is 100% on the coaching. At times, okay all too often, the play-calling has been suspect at best (see pass plays 4th quarter vs Baylor), but to say that a player jumping offsides or false starting is all on coaching is absurd. That is on a player making a bonehead mistake. Players at the highest level under the best coaches do it week in and week out. Time in and time out, the players quit on their coach and team this year, which is the only reason I could see TG not returning next year. The teams lack of performance on "big plays" is on the players, the coach, like a parent, can only instruct and ask so much. At some point, the players have to go out and do what has been asked of them, and perform to their best ability, and that wasnt the case this year.

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

BS!! Why is it we make so many "bonehead" mistakes? It is the only thing we are good at every week. Good teams make plays, good coaches fix mistakes. Someone even asked it in the poast game interview. Talking about the 4th down play: "is it frustrating that these mistakes are still being made this late in the season?". I understand that mistakes are made once in a wile but we make them all the freaking time and at important times. It is coaching, It can't be anything else. There is no excuse for what I saw this season. We can hire a freaking chimp w/ a headset or a girls flag football coach, you or me to go out there and set records for failure on defence 120 out of 120 in anything related to defence. Get real.

Bryan Mayes 10 years, 6 months ago

You addressed the issues all by yourself. "Good teams make plays, good coaches fix mistakes" No one ever accused this team of being good by any stretch of the imagination. I think we were better than we played, and it was a disappointing season for sure, but not a good team at all. And good coaches do fix mistakes, like terrible play calling, bad personnel decisions, things of that nature. But like I said, despite how many ways a coach wants to discipline or condone a player for making mistakes, the player is still the one on the field that has to execute. If he doesn't, what is the coach supposed to do? Put someone else in? How many players do you think we have? The bottom line is the team quit on the coach. You can't coach players that don't want to compete. Like I said, I think a coaching change is neccesary because of this, and I don't think TG is ready for BIG XII football. But I refuse to blame coaches for the inability of the players to not make mistakes.

Cmill1221 10 years, 6 months ago

Dude it's in the details. The players on the field are a direct reflection of the coach. Perfect example Phillip Rivers. Norv Turner is a whole topic in it's self... But if you have trouble w/ play calling, clock management, etc... The things you can and should focous on are the basics like wrapping up, ball security, LONG SNAPS, mental toughness and focous. The details are where you start, they are the building blocks. The problem is they don't exist on this team and there is a reason for that.

Gary McCullough 10 years, 6 months ago

If KU gets on this coaching merry-go-round the program goes into the trash, again. The program's brief success under Mangino was an opportunity to move to the next level. What was his favorite thing to say after a game? "Keep sawing wood." But now the fans want the program to return to looking for a quick fix instead of patiently building and enduring less than satisfying seasons. This is the hallmark of a basketball school where a few highly regarded players can turn a program around in a few seasons (e.g., Kentucky's reliance on one-and-done players.)

The problem, my fellow alumni, is not in our coaches, but in ourselves.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 6 months ago

Gill should get one more season, at least. Hate to say it, but Pinkel is right.

Robert Brock 10 years, 6 months ago

Pinkel needs to worry about his own job security. As for Gill - Turner is not worthy of another season; he is destroying KU football like nobody has done in 100+ years. KU is going to have a difficult time recovering from this hole we are now in. Worst defense I have seen in over fifty years! Wow - just WOW.

LngTimeFan 10 years, 6 months ago

Mental toughness is instilled by coaches. Incompetence is bad enough, ineptness is even worse. Gill has both of those at the top of his resume. The group hug mentality does not work in football. Toughness counts in football. If a player can't take being yelled at, having someone get in their face, they should quit football. A coach who takes names off of jerseys and plays little kid games with players about tweeting is no major college caliber coach. Businesses recognize immediately when they have the wrong person in a job and deal with it. KU must do the same thing, deal with Gill, get him out of here, and move on.

troutsee 10 years, 6 months ago

I have never been a coach but I have played the game. I have uncles who have coached on the college and pro level. In fact, one of my uncles was a head coach in the Big 8. Another was director of player personal for a pro football team for 13 years. So I have been around football all my life. I would agree that it takes longer than two years to build a program. Yet, this program was not in the tank (even though Mangino's team blew their last seven games but did not do so with the same embarrassing play that this team has managed to do) when Gill took over and I don't remember the number of mismatches and blow out losses over a two year period during the 50 years that I have been watching KU football.

Webb will not be the starting QB next year whoever is the head coach. We need a dual threat QB. Bless his heart. He has guts out the yingyang but simply does not cut it as a big time college QB.

As for Gill, I was dubious about his hiring but, nevertheless, jumped on his bandwagon, but the loss to NDSU was the first of many red flags. He had head coaching experience at Buffalo, so it is not like he was in virgin territory. Yet, his teams looked to be woefully unprepared in many games and did not have the mental toughness to stop the bleeding once it started. If I was Zenger, I would fire him.

VaJay 10 years, 6 months ago

Kevin Haskin of the Topeka paper said it right - the telling sign that says Turner Gill must go is the umpteenth 3rd quarter meltdown that happened yesterday. Yes he can recruit OK, but he's not a D1-capable coach. We keep him another year and it will be another full dose of beat-downs. The negative impact of the $6m due him has got to be outweighed by the impact of keeping him another year & having empty seats at the games, less TV exposure, & the effect of the downward spiral that is our current football program.

After 2 years, you MUST see some kind of improvement over the course of the second season, learning from mistakes, etc. and it's just not there.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 6 months ago

While I supported Gill for about 1 1/2 seasons, I have to say that it's time for the breakup. Lots of people say that a coach needs three years and I generally agree, however there is also a minimal amout of success/improvement that a program should expect. Gill's program has actually regressed as it's gone along. He has recruited some seemingly talented kids but at the same time this team is extremely undisciplined and the panic once they get down to an opponent. Gill has also been repeatedly "pantsed" in the third quarter once the other team has had the opportunity to adjust. On top of that, Gill is probably miserable at KU. A large sect of the KU fanbase severely dislikes him and there's no way he hasn't seen or heard the criticism. It's just time to end this bleak stretch of KU football and see if another staff can salvage things before we go back to the days of 1-star and 2-star recruits and no one at the games.

FSUJHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

Ok, so i was wrong. I really thought the boys would pull it off. Maybe next year :)

On the real, HCTG needs two years. Folks are saying he either needs to go now or he needs at least one more year. Both are wrong, he needs two years, period. Anyone who's been involved in program building will tell you this, even Pinkel, Bowden, Paterno (i know bad time to bring his name up) agree. The rare istant success occassions such as Stoops at OU and Myer at UF are indeed rare, and guess what, those programs are what we are in basketball so you know they were loaded with talent. I agree, Perkins did screw us with the contract but i truly believe we have one of the right guys for the job. I know it's embarrassing to lead the nation in defense, not the good kind. But we really need to give this guy two more years. If we dont make it to a bowl game then I'd agree we need a change. In the mean time we need to all support the program regardless of who the coach is or isn't.


FSUJHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

Ok, so i was wrong. I really thought the boys would pull it off. Maybe next year :)

On the real, HCTG needs two years. Folks are saying he either needs to go now or he needs at least one more year. Both are wrong, he needs two years, period. Anyone who's been involved in program building will tell you this, even Pinkel, Bowden, Paterno (i know bad time to bring his name up) agree. The rare istant success occassions such as Stoops at OU and Myer at UF are indeed rare, and guess what, those programs are what we are in basketball so you know they were loaded with talent. I agree, Perkins did screw us with the contract but i truly believe we have one of the right guys for the job. I know it's embarrassing to lead the nation in defense, not the good kind. But we really need to give this guy two more years. If we dont make it to a bowl game then I'd agree we need a change. In the mean time we need to all support the program regardless of who the coach is or isn't.


Maracas 10 years, 6 months ago

He's got those kids brainwashed. He needs to go. Now.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 6 months ago

I see sheahoRn is using the same strategy he used with conference realignment. Say nothing and hope things take care of themselves. Every day that passes by another school fires their coach and gets a jump on us. Tick toc sheahoRn!

mcontrary 10 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, but I'm a Jayhawk and I believe Turner Gill shouold never have been hired. It was a stupid error that is costing us 6 mil in addition to what has already been tossed his way and the lost ticket sales. HIs record was never anything but second-rate and his time at KU has been even worse. On a rating of 1-10, he wouldn't even be listed.

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