Monday, November 28, 2011

KU players talk about Turner Gill

Kansas senior linebacker Steven Johnson talks to reporters following his meeting with coach Turner Gill on Sunday at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Gill was fired on Sunday afternoon.

Kansas senior linebacker Steven Johnson talks to reporters following his meeting with coach Turner Gill on Sunday at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Gill was fired on Sunday afternoon.


Kansas junior linebacker Toben Opurum — like many of his teammates — emerged from his final meeting with Turner Gill wishing he could have done more.

After getting fired on Sunday afternoon, Gill met with his players — individually or in groups of two —at the Anderson Family Football Complex on Sunday night.

“I think him being fired really speaks more so on how poorly we played as players than it does on his ability to coach us,” Opurum said. “That hurts me, that I wasn’t able to be good enough to allow a man to keep his job.”

Opurum knows the process that’s about to come because he has been through it before.

Following Opurum’s freshman season at KU, coach Mark Mangino resigned at the end of the season.

“I think people don’t realize how much a decision like this is going to hurt us as a team and as a university,” Opurum said. “It’s going to be a whole other rebuilding process that we were already in the process of doing. So it’s kind of like we’ve got to start all over again.”

KU junior cornerback Greg Brown also will be playing for his third coach at KU next season.

“It’s just an unfair decision, but it was a business decision,” Brown said. “I just felt bad that I couldn’t do my part for him to keep his job here.”

KU receiver Kale Pick learned of Gill’s firing Sunday when he was texted by teammate Jordan Webb while eating dinner.

The Dodge City native was surprised by the news. He said Gill will be invited to his wedding one day.

“I’m really fortunate that I got to meet him and play for him,” Pick said. “And I’m going to be glad that I have a long relationship with him for the rest of my life.”

Outgoing seniors also met with Gill on Sunday night and shared their disappointment about his firing.

“I know that wherever he ends up next, people will be truly blessed to have him there on his staff, because he’s a great coach, a great man,” senior tight end A.J. Steward said. “Guys like that never falter. This is just a minor setback for him.”

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson credited Gill with helping him break out of his shell to become more of a leader.

“It’s just hard, because I don’t really feel as though he had a fair shot,” Johnson said. “Me personally, I know I believe in my heart that I don’t feel like there’s any other coach that could do both sides (coaching and relationships) as well as he did.”


manginorh00lz 10 years, 10 months ago

Naive children.

They'll quickly recover once a real coach takes over.

hawk316 10 years, 10 months ago

"Naive children?" Hardly. Rather, these comments speak loudly to the great character and outstanding leadership qualities of Turner Gill. This is why I have been such a strong supporter of the man and so hoped that he would succeed. He is the kind of man I wanted to represent our football program: a man of great integrity who deeply cared for his staff and players, committed to inspire others to achieve greatness while treating them with respect and dignity.

While GIll also exhibited shortcomings as a coach, these were not necessarily insurmountable weaknesses. His ability to recruit, inspire confidence and surround himself with outstanding people could have overcome many of these. Given time, he would have continued to grow and improve as a coach, as well.

But time is the one thing he would not be granted in this age of severe cultural impatience and instant gratification As Gary Pinkel was recently quoted as saying, two years is not enough time for a new coach. He admitted that he would have probably been fired if only given two years at Missouri. But, unlike Turner Gill, Pinkel was given time to succeed. I'm saddened that the KU family has lost such an outstanding individual. This kind of quality person is all too rare in society today, and I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

KStoCAHippie 10 years, 10 months ago

A man of great integrity? Really? Integrity? Ok, then will you please ask this man of great integrity to return the remaining 6 million dollars from his contract that he really shouldn't be owed? Nope? Or how about taking the obscene pay in the first place? I mean, it'd probably do a LOT for the TEAM and the University in general if he did. He claims he cares so much about the program... why doesn't he try and give back a bit.

What this tells me is that he is a really nice guy who the players like, but can't seem to win games. That's cool -- that's his bag. He wants to be everyone's friend and be a nice guy. But the problem is that it seems being a nice guy didn't win games. It appears being a great guy and "leader" made us the laughing stock of the entire Big 12 (I know, I went WAY out of my way to watch every horrible game). I don't want a nice guy, I'll take a guy who's a bit of a jerk but wins games. Lots of games. MOST of his game. We need a leader of men, not one of the guys.

jayhawks71 10 years, 10 months ago

Had Gill gone 4-7 and 5-7 and not had a team give up 60 points a single time (what Pinkel did in his first two years at Mizzou), he would still have a job at Kansas. Two years is too short to expect a team to be at the top of the heap or to get to bowl games. What people who are invoking the "two-year rule" are missing is that all people here wanted was to see improvement and to not get regularly blown out (or give up a lead by getting blown out in the 4th quarter).

AirCapJay 10 years, 10 months ago

Gill would still be coach with his exact same record if the team would have at least been competitive. Getting blown out of most games is what did Gill in.

all_in 10 years, 10 months ago

Ignorance is contagious. Come from behind the mask of this blog, say your real name, and be accountable for your stupidity. These young men know exactly what they are talking about. Kansas has only been to 3 relevant bowl games in team history, all of them in Miami. Yet the most recent Orange bowl game caused you to have delusions of grandeur. You haven't been a relevant powerhouse in football......EVER. Mangino's KU record is 50-48, thats 2 games above .500. Of his 7 years at KU he had 3 winning season, first 3 years were losing seasons, and he got a 4th year.

Its difficult for you to recruit, you bring in a coach that has So. Fl and Texas appeal, and he's gone prior to his 1st recruiting class reaching their junior and senior years.

I've never wished bad on anyone or anything, but this stinks really bad. So much so that your program will suffer dearly for years to come. This won't get fixed soon, and I'm confident some of your finest 2012 recruits have already begun to back out, rightfully so. Schools rely on booster money, and boosters voices are heard. So if the boosters pushed this decision forward, I hope they get what they deserve during the next 3 to 4 years.

leonard 10 years, 10 months ago

"I know that wherever he ends up next, people will be truly blessed to have him there on his staff"

Yessirree an ASSISTANT coach.

Thank gawd that the debacle created by Perkins and BGL is over. It's time to "closen the booken" on the nightmare tale of Turner Gill...the Jimmy Carter of college football coaching.

Here's hoping that our next coach builds sportsmanship and character by teaching our players to give our opponents a steady diet of "knock them on their ass, help them up, pat them on the butt, and get ready to do it again".

UmbertoConforti 10 years, 10 months ago

Jimmy Carter, B. S., this guy's results were worse than that, he's Barack Obama with a little bit of George W. Bush.

Chris Bailey 10 years, 10 months ago


Barack Obama worst US president ever! Turner Gill worst KU coach ever!

bad_dog 10 years, 10 months ago

Worst misspelling of "alumnus" in a user ID ever!

buckleyhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Worst place to make political comments ever...

Robert Brock 10 years, 10 months ago

Who can feel sorry for Turner Gill: the guy proved that he is not a BCS-level coach, ran down the football program into the dirt, and he gets a lump-sum payment of 6 million dollars for his experience. He moves on, far wealthier, and finds a job in coaching someday at a mid-major or as a position coach at a big school or the NFL. He and his family benefitted tremendously from his gig at KU. The rest of us didn't.

George Bures 10 years, 10 months ago

how can you run down a football program that lost the last 7 games they played before you showed up??

Chris Bailey 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't think that I think he was a good man a nice man and players coach. I truly think the players liked him. I just don't think the players realize how bad he was nor do they truly understand how poor his coaching was during the season and during the games.

hawkfan30 10 years, 10 months ago

Let's be honest here. From the moment TG was hired he was bashed. Jayhawk Nation did not support him and so he was fighting a losing battle from the start. You would rather have someone who is abusive (verbal or physical) than a man of character coaching these kids. I would rather send my kids to play for a man of character and lose then have to put them through counseling because of the abuse (verbal or physical) of a winning coach. If you need proof see Penn State football or Syracuse basketball. It's time for college sports to stop looking the other way and start hiring coaches of character.

Ed Brown 10 years, 10 months ago


Maybe a coach like Bo spitting in their faces and screaming at the refs is the image the Jayhawk Nation now craves. I think not. I think comparing the head coach to the President of our country shows the lack of frontal lobe development but then again we stopped respecting even that position long ago. TG was not ready yet the university made the decision so gripe to them. Lew certainly wasn't the only one to do all the athletic hiring.

In today's world perhaps passing off the discipline of your children to your schools and coaches makes life easier. If the kids all showed up wholesome like our hometown hero Toben Opurum or Kale Pick, for example, abusive coaches will be the thing of the past.

hawk316 10 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, hawkfan, in our culture "winning" trumps all else. By firing Gill, I suspect that we may have robbed current and future players the opportunity to grow dramatically in character and in good citizenship. Hopefully, the next coach can continue in the same vein of positive character-building that Gill instituted at KU.

At the same time, I certainly understand that performance on the field is also important. Gill and his staff undoubtedly understood this and cared deeply about the success of the team. My personal frustration is that this coach simply was not given enough time to succeed. If this football team continued to perform next season as they did this season, then that becomes another matter. In that case, one might be forced to conclude that it was just not a good fit. Even then, it would be difficult for me to see such a quality individual lose his job. You just can't have too many people of such outstanding character in any organization!

Ludwig Supraphonic 10 years, 10 months ago

Certainly there were posters here who were sure TG was the wrong hire and seemed delighted at his failure. I don't think that characterizes "Jayhawk Nation". Most of us just want a program that is competitive and well run. I admire TG and his obvious commitment to his players and their character. I remained in the 'give him more time' camp and fear the message his short tenure sends to potential coaches and recruits. However, the TAMU game was the turning point for me. I didn't see evidence of progress in any facet of our on field performance. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of TG's first recruiting class. I don't think that could continue with the prospect of more humiliating blowouts.

Micky Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

We weren't competitive and it wasn't being well run.

The entire Jayhawk Nation may not care so much, but most of us do. The value to having not just a competitive team, but having a winning team goes a long way for the University and this is not just about the money. It's about going to a football game on a Saturday afternoon to blow off some of that steam (relax).

It's about work ethic that develops a sense of commitment to excellence, to winning. It's also about pride.

Winning should be important. That is the object of the game.

Micky Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Why don't you now corroborate that with evidence?

Don't demagogue, but if you continue to do it, give you your educational credentials. It doesn't serve your credibility to be dishonest.

Gregor Southard 10 years, 10 months ago

Does losing nearly 50 percent of your games by 30+ points count as evidence?

Chris Bruning 10 years, 10 months ago

Horrible fire!!! look what gill was dealing with, and look what he was bringing in.....Playing your hearts out against the number 2 ranked Oklahoma team on national tv is good coaching, kids not wanting to give up for you is good coaching, never giving up all the way through even though its clear you suck is good coaching. Gotta give a guy time, horrible fire zengwhore.

Micky Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

It was the right move. Turner Gill inherited better players than Mangino did. Granted.

Mangino didn't go 1 - 16 against Big 12 foes like Gill did.

Mangino showed progress in eliminating those blow out losses, Gill didn't.

Now, this isn't all on Gill, but his entire staff for the repeated failure in being prepared for games, and not making adjustments.

Discipline is not a bad thing. Gill wasn't doing it.

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 10 months ago

The kids didn't play their hearts out against OU. OU overlooked the game and played sloppy against us, thus, we looked like we were staying with them. Then, OU decided to win, so they did. If OU had actually practiced that week and prepared for Kansas, instead of taking the week off, which they clearly did, they would've smoked us A&M style.

Horrible Fire? Give Zenger a raise and double it if he hires somebody who can actually coach the game of football.

The kids don't suck, there's talent on the team, the coaching sucks. Don't give a guy more time to run this program even farther into the ground.

RCJ obviously doesn't know football.

The Best Fire Ever!!!

Ben Kliewer 10 years, 10 months ago

TG is a tremendous human being. A stand-up guy. A real peach, if you will. But not a football coach. At least not in an AQ conference. I'm really sure the players liked him, but seriously, Toben, you played like a mad man this year. You really impressed with your development at DE. You played just fine considering what was going on around you. Gill is a likeable guy, and he really cares about these kids, so of course they liked him. Doesn't mean he wasn't a bad football coach. Likeable people are good and bad at all sorts of things, just like hateable people, and people you don't mind either way. I believe Gill had all the confidence in the world that he could deliver Championships and dynasties to Kansas, but he has to back that confidence up with actual ability and results, which he didn't have and thus failed to produce. He did, in fact, succeed in deteriorating the state of the program ten-fold in just two years. Can't argue with results. For the players to be blaming themselves though is just sick and wrong.

I don't think the two year tenure will send a message. It was pretty clear from what Gill displayed on the field as a Head Coach that he didn't deserve more time. Any coach worth his salt can see that. There's not a coach in the country that's any good that would look at this situation and see a two year tenure at Kansas in his future. anybody with eyes can see that Gill clearly did not have what it takes to coach at this level and be successful. If a coach comes in and actually shows that he is improving the program, then they get more time. But Gill, as I said before, actually proved that he was deteriorating the program exponentially. Mangino came in with FAR less talent than Gill did. By his second year, Mangino had his team playing in a bowl game, albeit the Tangerine Bowl where Philip Rivers picked us apart (The Brentwood Bomber Bill Whittemore still led the offense to score 26 points, including a sweet 15 yard shovel pass for a TD). But it was still a bowl game. Mangino's first year we were 2-10. His second year the fighting Mangino's were 6-7 and a Bowl team. That's progress. Conversely, Gill's first year we were 3-9 with a loss to an FCS opponent and a win over a ranked GTech team. His second year we were 2-10 with an actual win over an FCS opponent and a squeaker over NIU. We also set records for futility and lost 10 games over the course of those two years by more than 30 points. That's not progress, that's regress. Sure, we may have had a fantastic recruiting class, but if your coach doesn't know how to coach, you could have all the 5-Star recruits in the world and you still wouldn't win games. There is talent on this team, there really is. This team, with the right coach, could've been going bowling next month, but alas. Now we need to clean up the mistake BGL and Screw Perkins made and find an actual coach to lead this team. Gill's a great guy. Just not a good football coach. God Bless him and his $6million.

hawkfan30 10 years, 10 months ago

A few fun facts.

Mack Brown's record at North Carolina his first two seasons was 2-20 (1-10, 1-10) in his second 2 years 13-8-1 (6-4-1, 7-4)

Frank Beamer's record at Virginia Tech his first two seasons was 5-17 (2-9, 3-8) in his second two years 12-9 (6-4-1, 6-5)

Bill Snyder's record at K-State his first two seasons was 6-16 (1-10, 5-6) remember this was the Big 8 years no Texas teams and a run dominated game only played 2 ranked teams is second season. The loses were pretty ugly 64-3 against Colorado, 34-7 against OU, 45-8 against Nebraska. The next two years 12-10 (7-4, 5-6)

Mark Mangino's record at KU his first two seasons was 8-17 (2-10, 6-7) in his second two years 11-12 (4-7, 7-5). This was accomplished in a much weaker conference not having to play TX & OU every year. Playing a weaker ISU & Baylor. In his career at KU Magino never defeated Texas, OU or TT. He beat A&M once and OSU once. The only Big XII team he had an above .500 record against was ISU. There was only 1 year, 2007, where Mangino finished with an above .500 winning record in league play

Turner Gill record at KU his first two seasons was 5-19 (3-9, 2-10) In his second two years ???

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 10 months ago

Were those programs 25-6 in the 2 1/2 seasons before they decided to fire the previous coach? Perkins is the worst thing to happen to KU sports possibly of all time, Mangino fire was bad, Gill hire was worse. Zenger has to do his job and he's done the easy part, fire Gill. Now the tougher part, find a great coach to take over at KU.

Why do people think it'll be so hard to find a good coach at KU? Gill just walked away with 10mil for 2 years of being terrible, that's an attractive payday for anybody.

hawkfan30 10 years, 10 months ago

The 25-6 would be a relevant argument if any of the "Stars" off that team would have still played under TG and if Mangino hadn't finished 13-12 (5-11 in conference) with the afore mentioned "stars". In his final two years. Funny how you want to include the successful 2007 season in your 2 1/2 year record but leave out the final half season when the team quit on Mangino and he went 1-7 in league play to finish.

Mack's team at NC was 17-14-1 (11-10) in conference three years prior to him taking over. Mack's NC team was 12-10-1 in the two years prior to Mack and 8-6 in conference.

Beamer's Team at VT was 23-11-1 in the three years prior to him taking over. Beamer's Team at VT was 15-7-1 in the two years prior to Beamer.

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

Great examples. I always use Randy Edsall at UConn, because he was hired by Lew, but yours are just as good. Too bad all that proof that it takes more than two years falls on deaf ears here.

Ludwig Supraphonic 10 years, 10 months ago

You're just counting Ws. The point separation of the three K-State games mentioned were ugly losses against the elite teams of that period. Did the TAMU game this year lead you to believe progress is imminent?

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 10 months ago

KU did Gill a huge favor firing him this year. Had he been given a few more years to ensure to everyone how inept he was as the HC he would never be given another chance. Look at Tyrone Willingham and ND, fired early, gets another shot at UW, fired again, but if ND keeps him around one more year maybe he never gets another chance.

Thanks for trying Coach Gill, I'm sure you gave it your best, but mostly YOU ARE WELCOME FOR THE $10 MILLION DOLLARS AND OPPORTUNITY YOU WERE GIVEN AS WELL AND WILL PROBABLY BE GIVEN AGAIN, good luck

Eric Mitchell 10 years, 10 months ago

If our next coach gets the players to perform better on the field then maybe the Gridiron Club will be added to Memorial or receive other renovations, such as removing the track and lowering the field.

danmoore 10 years, 10 months ago

Don't understand how a coach can inspire such loyalty in his players but is unable to get them to play for him.

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