Gill's timeout explanation puzzling


I can't get over the quote.

There are times when someone says something so far away from your own thinking that it's hard to wrap your head around it.

Kansas coach Turner Gill triggered that thought with something he said Friday night.

Following KU's 31-16 loss to Southern Miss, Gill was asked if he considered challenging a play in the third quarter.

With KU trailing 21-10 with 2:08 left in the third period, Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown appeared to fumble the ball at the 1-yard line.

The fumble went out of bounds in the end zone, and if the play had been overturned, KU would have gained possession at its own 20.

Here's Gill's quote about it after the game.

"I didn't have a good look at it. I just thought that they were going to review it," he said. "I was waiting to see. They reviewed everything else, so I thought at least that should be reviewed.

"I didn't want to waste a timeout. We only had one left. They said it was clearly out of bounds, so that's why they made the call."

Stop. Wait a minute. Let's back up to that last paragraph.

"I didn't want to waste a timeout. We only had one left."

Before I go any further, let me say Gill does not have an easy job. He admitted that, from the sideline, he didn't get a good look at the play (though he appeared to get a good enough view to run down the sideline to ask officials if a review was coming). He also didn't have the benefit of seeing a replay.

Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown extends toward the goal line as he is hit by Kansas cornerback Chris Harris during the third quarter, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown extends toward the goal line as he is hit by Kansas cornerback Chris Harris during the third quarter, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. by Nick Krug

Gill also has to make split-second decisions in a constantly changing game with thousands of factors involved.

Having said all that, the quote above still gets to me just as much.

There is absolutely no way Gill should think of that challenge — especially in those circumstances — as a potential "waste" of a timeout.

Let's take a closer look, using the win probability calculator from Advanced NFL Stats* to help us.

* — Essentially, with the calculator, we can plug in the situation of a game (time, score, field position, down/distance), and it will tell us the team's chances of winning the game with the given scenario. This is based upon data from seasons of NFL games.

Though a college football win probability calculator would be ideal, I don't know of anyone who has made it available. The NFL calculator still should be useful for this exercise.

After Brown's catch (and the fumble was not called), USM held the ball on the KU 1-yard line up 21-10 with 2:08 to go in the third quarter.

According to the calculator, NFL teams in Southern Miss' position win 97 percent of the time.

OK, so let's say KU had challenged the play, and the officials overturned the call.

KU would have been down 21-10 with 2:08 to go in the third quarter with the ball on the USM 20.

In that scenario, NFL teams in Southern Miss' position only win 87 percent of the time.

With a challenge, KU could have increased its chances of winning from three percent to 13 percent: a full 10 percent.

Let's compare.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb takes a snap late in the second quarter against Southern Miss, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb takes a snap late in the second quarter against Southern Miss, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. by Nick Krug

One of the biggest momentum-changing plays of the game was Southern Miss' blocked punt returned for touchdown in the second quarter. As a fan, you would gladly trade a timeout there if meant preventing the blocked punt, right?

Well, before the punt, KU (down 11, 1:41 left in second quarter, fourth and 1 from own 28) had a 12-percent chance of winning the game.

After the blocked punt and subsequent kickoff, KU (down 18, 1:29 left in second quarter, first and 10 from own 26) still had an eight-percent chance of winning the game.

The difference there is four percent, meaning KU's non-challenge in the third quarter was much more costly than the blocked punt in terms of hurting its win percentage. This mostly is because KU still had a lot of time to recover from its mistake — a luxury KU didn't have late in the third quarter.

So Gill didn't want to "waste" a late timeout because he only had one left? There's an easy solution: Don't spend the earlier ones if not absolutely needed.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill closes his eyes as he paces past his players during the fourth quarter against Southern Miss, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Jayhawks fell to the Golden Eagles 31-16.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill closes his eyes as he paces past his players during the fourth quarter against Southern Miss, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Jayhawks fell to the Golden Eagles 31-16. by Nick Krug

If you look back at the replay, Gill is the one who walked up to the official to call a timeout with his team trailing 21-10 with 8:20 to go in the third quarter with the play clock dwindling down.

Let's plug in the numbers: KU (down 11, 8:20 left in third quarter, third and 5 from own 43) had a 17-percent chance of winning the game.

If KU had let the play clock expire instead of using a timeout (down 11, 8:20 left in third quarter, third and 10 from own 38), its win percentage only drops to 15 percent — a two-percent decrease.

In case you were wondering, KU's first timeout of the second half was taken before a fourth-and-3 play from the USM 8.

Though there once again appeared to be issues getting the play in, it's harder to criticize wanting to get the play right there, as KU's win percentage went from eight percent before the play to 13 percent after Deshaun Sands' touchdown run and the subsequent kickoff.

An excited Kansas running back Deshaun Sands scampers in for a touchdown against Southern Miss during the third quarter, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

An excited Kansas running back Deshaun Sands scampers in for a touchdown against Southern Miss during the third quarter, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. by Nick Krug

The previous timeouts would be a bigger issue if Gill had no timeouts left to challenge the play in the third quarter. But he did have a timeout left.

I'd have to think there are few scenarios in any game he'll ever coach when a timeout could potentially net him a 10-percent increase in his win probability.

Watching the replay a few times, it appears Brown did fumble the ball before going out of bounds. I'd say the call probably would have been overturned at least 80 percent of the time, and that number might be conservative.

Forget saving timeouts. Forget waiting on a replay.

The play was perhaps the single biggest turning point in the game when it came to improving KU's chances of winning.

A challenge would have been anything but a waste.


gardenjay 12 years, 4 months ago

I'm just reluctant to blame Gill. I think he wants to win games. The players are responding, let's look forward to the next game.

Very interesting analyses, and thorough; I do appreciate the journalism in this article. Rock Chalk - get healthy boys!

Thomas Thompson 12 years, 4 months ago

I agree we don't need to blame Gill. I feel you can find something better to write about instead of your indepth analylsis by the NFL facts and 80% of the time, etc. The team doesn't appear to be as good as everyone hoped it would be. I would like to read more about the offense they are running and the plalyers in the offense line and backfield. The same for the defense. That would be good journalism! Rock Chalk

SC0VILLE 12 years, 4 months ago

You're reluctant to blame Gill because he wants to win games?

I'm not on the "Fire Turner Gill" team, but this attitude that because Gill is a good guy or that he instills hope and positive thinking in the team has any bearing on weather he's a good coach and create wins is crap.

I'm not saying he shouldn't be positive, but he coaches football. He doesn't run a positive thinking seminar. Any criticisms of his coaching skills that pop up are warranted no matter how great of a person he may be. He gets paid to coach, not create warm fuzzies.

Robert Brock 12 years, 4 months ago

KU is making a lot of mistakes, which is not surprising; that was a serious error in judgment.

KU_FanSince75 12 years, 4 months ago

Gill's mismanagement of timeouts in the North Dakota State game goes without saying. This situation is unique, that's for sure. Nik picking? Who knows? It is worthy to question Gill why he didn't use a timeout to challenge the play. Nice job, Jesse!

Brad Avery 12 years, 4 months ago

The play should have been reviewed automatically. It was simply an example of B12 refs blowing another call. Happens with regularity when KU plays. Trying to pin it on Gill is ludicrous. He was supposed to have all those statistics handy when making his decision?

Carter Patterson 12 years, 4 months ago


I'm curious to know what the standard protocol is. I would think that KU would have a coach in the booth close to enough to the official that makes the review to scream and holler loud enough to make sure that plays like that get reviewed. Was there any official explanation why it was not reviewed? College coaches don't have a red flag to throw out.

Even the announcers were slow in stating that it appeared he fumbled out of bounds. Is the review official just watching TV and waiting for the announcers to tell him when to check?

Dyrk Dugan 12 years, 4 months ago

i agree with Doolin. the play SHOULD have been reviewed.....i mean he clearly fumbled it. how can someone in the booth not see that? It's Gill's fault that he only had one timeout....not that he didn't risk it there.

and all of these above stats? they're worthless...just like all the two point or kick the point nonsense...when you're ahead you kick....unless, there will be only other possession by your opponent....or you're just trying to surprise the other team. Coaches need to simplify this stuff...not complicate it more. the game is plenty hard enough.

Pbbut 12 years, 4 months ago

A lot of people failed to "see" the obvious on this play. Maybe the coaches in the press box were trying to get the word to Gill, but based on what we've seen, getting word to the sidelines is better accomplished by the Pony Express.
If this was the only sideline failure we've seen this year then I'd be the first to say: "Let's move on." But wrong or late substitutions, slow play calling, and using time outs to avoid delays have been the only consistent thing that we've seen from this staff.
For the total salaries of the entire coaching staff, I expect more.

jayhawkjoe98 12 years, 4 months ago

I can't hardly believe the play wasn't reviewed myself. They review every questionable call and that one certainly seemed questionable. Gill should have used a timeout, but the officials should have reviewed the play.

Jason Sinclair 12 years, 4 months ago

Good work Jesse!

My only comment would be that I heard somewhere that Gill heard from the official that the player "was clearly out of bounds". So if Gill was led to believe that there "was no chance" that he'd win a review, then, yes, he would've thought that it would've been a waste of a TO.

If that's true, then that ref screwed us. However, as somebody else said, we should have assistants in the booth looking for that stuff.

Ultimately, the blame goes on Gill's staff for not being on top of it, but he may have been victimized by that ref.

Jesse Newell 12 years, 4 months ago

Hawksj — You make a great point, and it definitely needs to be taken into consideration.

Perhaps Gill believed he would only be wasting a timeout because the player was clearly out of bounds, just like the official told him (It's the last part of the quote above). If that's the case, he was a bit of a victim of bad luck, though he still could have asked coaches, players, anyone around him if they believed the play deserved another look.

I know some people have brought up that Gill didn't have NFL probability calculators at his disposal, and they're right. He doesn't. He shouldn't. The math used was more just to illustrate how crucial a moment that was in the game.

And I guess that's the point. Intuitively, Gill shouldn't need to have a calculator to know that taking a timeout to avoid a delay of game early in the third quarter isn't a good use. And that challenging a play late in the third quarter that could keep USM from a near-certain TD would be anything but a waste.

Lone_salina_kufan 12 years, 4 months ago

I will stick up for Gill only a little bit on this one. His mistake was mismanaging the timeouts before this one. At that point, he couldn't risk losing the last timeout. Everybody acts like it would've been overturned. If they can't even tell he was NOT clearly out of bounds, what makes you so sure the would find "indisputable evidence" on that particular play. I think the odds of winning that challenge were slilm to none.

However, they should have reviewed it without a challenge. For some reason in College football now, they review a play to see if someone farted in the huddle.

In the end, what it all boils down to, is right now, we have a football team that, while i hate to say it, plays downright stupid football. I don't need a calculator to tell me that.

Jarod DeLozier 12 years, 4 months ago

An easy point to make when you have an uber-metric tool at your disposal, which Coach obviously did not. I can totally understand not wanting to risk your last timeout on a close call where the burden of proof lies in a clear reason to overturn the call. I'm a numbers guy too but this instance is not a good one to use an NFL metric tool to make your point.

Jeremy LeMaster 12 years, 4 months ago

You do not need the "uber-metric" tool to figure out which play in the game had the largest impact! Jesse's use of the tool simply puts numbers to it to put it into perspective for coaches/fans that did not or cannot comprehend the scale to which the decision not to challenge the play further hurt a struggling KU football team.

Marcia Parsons 12 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Gill is like me in that he has a total lack of hope that the refs will ever overturn anything, and felt sure he would be blowing his final time out. Maybe he should have had more time outs, but is it poor management from the bench, or poor execution from the team that is causing the need for all these time outs because the play clock is running down?

KU_FanSince75 12 years, 4 months ago

"For some reason in College football now, they review a play to see if someone farted in the huddle." That's a good one, Lone_salina_kufan! I guess the game officials had a dinner to go to and that's why they didn't take the time to review the play-----completely sarcastic, btw.

Jeremy LeMaster 12 years, 4 months ago

Is this play even reviewable? I understand the ref thought he new what he saw but I believe they should rule for the fumble and then challenge back for the possession. This may be a corner case where you could rule that the fumble really did take place though. I think the ref screwed up by being stubborn, he obviously made up whatever he saw because Brown was clearly not out of bounds... at least before he touched down out of bounds the ball bounced in bounds and went out of bounds through the end zone.

I would like to hear the response from the Officiating Crew after actually reviewing the play.

fundamental 12 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if Gill was hesitant to challenge the play for the simple reason that, in college football, coaches challenges are almost never successful. Because they review every play from the booth and call down when a play needs a second look, coaches rarely actually challenge a play. When they do, it's usually because something REALLY bad just happened, and they're hoping a second look will reveal something that got missed; it's a shot in the dark. If Gill was told by the official that he was "clearly out of bounds," then Gill shouldn't have challenged the play. This is on the booth upstairs (not to mention the refs on the field, who clearly blew the play. I don't think Brown touched the ground out of bounds at any point before the ball rolled out of the end zone. It was so obvious, it's almost mind-boggling.

Because I'm curious and because I'm sure nobody has anything better to do, can we get a survey of coach's challenges success rate in college football since the new replay (with challenges) system was implemented? My guess is the success rate is somewhere around 10% or even lower.

khummel60 12 years, 4 months ago

This is a very valid critique of Coach Gill and his staff I think. Clearly there has been allot of disorganization and confusion, both on the field and on the sidelines. Whether Gill should or should not have called a timeout to avoid that delay of game call seems secondary to the core problem - the ongoing disorganization and confusion. I don't know what the probation period should be for a new coaching staff to get things like this ironed out, but so much of this seems like typical mistakes made by a new staff with a new system and inexperienced players. That said, if it's still happening midway through the season then I think we all should be very concerned, and Gill should have something to answer for.

Bob Culwell 12 years, 4 months ago

Jesse--Thanks for the interesting take on the situation. Like everybody else, I'd love for us to not be in the situation with times out being used early in halves. However, I never have understood when college coaches call time out to ask for a review. Throughout every telecast of a college game, viewers hear that every play is reviewed and that, if the replay official thinks a second look is warranted, he'll stop the game. I've always thought that, when that replay official doesn't stop things, it makes no sense to spend the time out. The replay official is signaling, with his silence, that the call stands.

I thought it looked like a fumble--based on my understanding of the rules. There might be some nuance that I don't know about, but the officials do.

justinryman 12 years, 4 months ago

Here is the really bad thing about the officals of the S. Miss game. They were from the Big 12!!!!

You'd think they'd give a team a "homer call" once in awhile,but they were bad that whole game. But one can not blame the officals for not calling a perfect game, until one plays a perfect game or coaches a perfect game.

But lets all remember that hind sight is 20/20.

Kenneth Hillman 12 years, 4 months ago

Great analysis Jesse. This + poorly used timeouts + not going for it on 4th downs + not getting plays in.... AAAAGGGGHHH!!! The comments above about not having the flexcapacitor computer to make decisions like this....unreal. Football is also about knowing what statistics lie behind your decisions and certain situations. There was an article recently about what we have been netting on some punts and that was another great illustration about poor game-time decisions. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HCTG be learning from each game and start making better decisions during the game. It is NOT an easy job but that is why you get paid $2mm.

kureader 12 years, 4 months ago

Interesting points by Jesse. But, it's the responsibility of the entire coaching staff, especially those in the booth, to provide direction here. I wouldn't hang this one on Gill.

Gill's interview answer may have been weak, but the better question would have been to ask why the coaches in the booth weren't screaming and yelling to review the play.

Craig Lang 12 years, 4 months ago

I don't know how much time Coach Turner had to punch the numbers into his computer. Jesse, how long did it take you to run the numbers? Was it less than 35 seconds, because that is all the time Coach Turner had to make the call.

jhawkjjm 12 years, 4 months ago

I said this right after the game.

You have to challenge that play regardless of the numbers. Here's the easy number you needed. 6. That's the number of points you take away from Southern Miss and you get the ball if the call is overturned. If the call isn't overturned, the last timeout doesn't matter because the game was over.

Kenneth Hillman 12 years, 4 months ago


You don't need a F'N computer to make this call.

@lalawguy - are you even reading the story and the comments below it before you post?

Bear86 12 years, 4 months ago

Poor coaching. The way the team finished the 1st half was terrible as well. Our O-Line seems to be the most glaring weakness (along with Bad Play calling & time management from the coaching staff). Gill is still relatively a young coach. I'm looking for week to week improvement. Not 1 step forward/2 steps back. F-Texas!!!!!

Cal Bender 12 years, 4 months ago

In the end, we have to give Gill credit for recognizing the problem. As he has said repeatedly, "We gotta do a better job of coach'n." According to the sports section of today's San Diego Union-Tribune, the odds makers have Kansas a 23 point favorite over New Mexico State. We'll see. "The proof is in the pudding!" Go Hawks! Umm, make that the final score.

number1jayhawker 12 years, 4 months ago

This exact same play happened to us @ Nebraska in 2006 when Adam Barrman had a great game. That play was reviewed but the refs still got it wrong and stuck it to us.

Since when could college coaches demand a review? They can ask for one, but unlike the NFL, they can't throw a red flag and demand one.

Michael Leiker 12 years, 4 months ago

That's the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this play. The picture in the Lincoln Journal Star the next day showed the receiver fumbling the ball through the end zone while still standing in bounds...I jump in my Nebraska fan buddy's car on Sunday morning and he has it open to that page, thought it was the funniest thing in the world and I was still pissed...Mangino lost his mind on that play. KU F'd again. In my book, KU does have a win in Lincoln in the last 40 years.

pizzashuttle 12 years, 4 months ago

I don't think Gill's doing advanced math on the sidelines. Tuberville challenges the call.

741hawk 12 years, 4 months ago

You don't pay a coach $2 million a year to "learn on the job." Please. Also, are the rules and strategies used in the MAC that much different that BCS? No, they are not different at all!

kvskubball 12 years, 4 months ago

Yes you do pay him $2 mil to learn on the job.....Osborne at NU was learning on the job year after year when OU initial pounded him whenever it really mattered...but with time he learned and won some really big games...but that didn't really happen consistently for 10-15 years!

Hey at Buffalo he was allowed to learn...his first head coaching job at a school in a poor conference....

I think Gill is human, and I think even 741hawk might feel some pressure...

And let's look at the flip side. Say he calls the timeout and they don't over-rule because it isn't 'conclusive'? Then everyone is ranting about Gill using his last time out....

Nitpicking any ONE decision in a game is ridiculous!

And as a general comment...I told my dad on Thursday night that I expected us to have the same kind of timeout troubles as we did in the first game (I said I hoped we didn't but said I thought that was wishful thinking)....with a young QB in a hostile environment, not to mention whatever the difficulties were of getting plays down to the field (was that some home cooking?)

We've got a young team and a new head coach and everyone is nitpicking this or that decision - stupid, imo.

mtdewjunkie 12 years, 4 months ago

"gill must goooooooooo" ok. then who? who do you want to replace him? would he even want the job? are you paying the rest of coach gills contract? how much would that hurt recruiting for the next few years? do you think about these things?

Jared Grillot 12 years, 4 months ago

I have to agree with some that this call was up in the air. However, I also completely agree that we should have had more time outs to give. Way too many time outs in these first few games burned to save delay penalties because we're taking too long to get organized. If Bill Self was burning 3 or more time outs a half to prevent 5 second calls, someone would be having fits... "Why can't he get them to run an inbounds play?", etc. Coaches and players both need to work on getting on and off the field and getting in formation in time. Then we can have the luxury of having a time out to "waste" on such a call.

dtownhawkfan 12 years, 4 months ago

Turner is just KU's version of Ron Prince, Ron Prince 2.0 if you will, win big games, lose games you shouldn't, and do mind-boggling things. 2 or 3 years and we're hiring someone new

Randy Bombardier 12 years, 4 months ago

I was listening on the radio and was curious why we did not challenge. Wow, seeing it, I can't believe the officials were off by so much.

gardenjay 12 years, 4 months ago

I could not disagree more with dtownhawkfan. Ron Prince wanted the fans to create an atmosphere using power towels. Do you think Gill would even approach fans such as these, even with power washcloths?

I think it must be the economy, because who would want to play football for some y'all. Go out and forage for some food, then come back with a more positive attitude and stop griping about the absolutely wonderful jayhawk football team we have. Crimony!

jayhawkintx73 12 years, 4 months ago

I do believe that with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter stating we only have one time out left is a distraction from the truth. It was worth losing a timeout even it was not overturned. For one, the pylon is part of the endzone and if he had kept possession and just the tip of the ball crosses the plane, it would have been a TD. If he fumbled it and the ball crosses the plane after he fumbled it, its a touchback and KU ball. It appeared to clearly cross the plane after the fumble. THROW THE RED FLAG!

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