Archive for Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turner Gill hiring follows a KU trend

Turner Gill coaches Buffalo against Kent State in this file photo from November 28, 2008, in Amherst, N.Y. Gill will be introduced as Kansas University’s head coach at a news conference today.

Turner Gill coaches Buffalo against Kent State in this file photo from November 28, 2008, in Amherst, N.Y. Gill will be introduced as Kansas University’s head coach at a news conference today.

December 15, 2009


Kansas Head Football Coach Turner Gill

Turner Gill was named the head coach of the Kansas football team Sunday, December 15, 2009.

They’re all pretty much the same, you know.

Introductory news conferences inevitably contain bubbly remarks about the new hire, glowing optimism from the new man and a smattering of enamored boosters scattered among the media cameras and tape recorders.

So it was Monday when Turner Gill was introduced as Kansas University’s newest football coach.

This was the ninth time I’ve attended a media session introducing a new KU football coach, and it never ceases to amaze me the euphoria a fresh face generates.

Everyone believes this is THE guy. This is the man who will turn the KU football roller-coaster into a motor speedway. This is the fellow who will transform the Jayhawks into a gridiron dynasty.

The flame has been rekindled. Just because no one ever has done it before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. On Mount Oread, Potter Lake is always half-full, never half-empty.

Meanwhile, those of us who have watched the Kansas football Mamba closely over the years can’t help but notice how a trend has developed involving the make-up of the designee.

No need to go way back, so let’s start with Bob Valesente, who headed the program in the late 1980s.

Valesente was a nice guy, a man who knew football, but didn’t realize the importance of recruiting. And when, after two years, it was clear the program was tanking, they said Valesente was too soft, that the Jayhawks needed a tough guy.

They secured one in Glen Mason, an Ohio State alumnus who had played under the legendary Woody Hayes and coached just like him. No one ever accused Mason of being too soft. Mason was no Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

When Mason left for a parallel position at Minnesota, few people around here wrung their hands in dismay. Mason’s gruff act had worn thin, and thus it was deemed appropriate to bring in another nice guy.

Enter Terry Allen, who immediately wowed everyone with his friendliness and charm. Wife Lynn was dynamite, too. Both became involved in community affairs and were beloved among the gentry.

Allen had been a success at Northern Iowa, but it soon became apparent he had climbed one level too high. The highly competitive, money-driven Big 12 Conference basically chewed Allen up and spit him out.

Time for another tough guy. Enter Mark Mangino, a man without head-coaching experience, but one who knew the Big 12 and, after a couple of lean years using Allen’s talent, guided KU to the Promised Land — the magical 12-1 season in 2007.

But, like so many other KU coaches before him, Mangino couldn’t sustain the excellence and was forced to resign amid allegations he had treated his players like they were Marine Corps recruits.

In essence, though, Mangino simply had worn out his welcome.

Now, not surprisingly, the pendulum has swung to another good guy, a man of high character and impeccable moral values — the quintessential players’ coach.

Turner Gill says he wants to stay on the Kansas sideline for 15 to 20 years. More power to him. Who’s to say he won’t? All that stands in his way is history.


Lee Eldridge 8 years, 6 months ago

Hey Chuck. I agree about this trend. Matter of fact I wrote about it on my blog two weeks ago:

rtwngr 8 years, 6 months ago

Great article, Chuck! You nailed it. Four years from now KU will be looking for a "tough" coach to whip the program into shape.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

Oh please. Don't laud this piece as if Woodling has come up with some eye-opening, little known tidbit. The switch (or "trend") from taskmaster to 'player's coach' is well documented; it happens everywhere. Herm Edwards=player's coach/ Haley=taskmaster. Parcells=taskmaster/Phillips=player's coach. This 'phenomenon' happens everywhere, sports, business, or politics.

And don't "cringe" because Gill is the softer teacher. Dungy built a dynasty that way, Vermeil won a lot, Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Doc Rivers, Pete Carrol, Jim Boeheim, Mark Few, Jim Tressel, Tom Osborne - all 'player's coaches'.

BigAl 8 years, 6 months ago

I am very optimistic about Turner Gill. He already has his coordinators in place and will hit the ground running. He was loved in Buffalo and there is no reason to expect any difference here.

Jaywalker is right, there are a lot of "players coaches" out there that have been extremely successful.

Consumer1.... try as you might but this is not political. Far right-wingers, can't live with 'em and you can't shoot 'em.

Jock Navels 8 years, 6 months ago

a big difference between gill and allen is that gill knows bcs level nanational championship level football. he knows what he has to put on the field to beat oklahoma. terry allen didn't have a clue. it's also possible to be a players coach, and coach hard. it's faulty dilemna to assume you can only have one or the the choice between smash-mouth and finesse football. coaches can coach a finesse game that the players are playing smash mouth... Gill could very well be the Bob Devaney of hawkworld...believe me.

Joel Hood 8 years, 6 months ago

jaywalker - Tom Osborne a player's coach???? Just because he didn't scream and yell didn't make him a player's coach. He's a CEO with ice water for blood.

thepianoman 8 years, 6 months ago

It's such a poignant moment for KU, the players, the AD and his staff, isn't it? It brings a tear to my eye.....makes me so warm and fuzzy......Scuse me while I throw to reality....This is a cycle. They'll go through a winning phase for a season or two.....then they'll have a bad season...then Lew will can him.....I'd say 4 to 5 years Gill will be out and they'll be searching for his replacement. Look at histoy...come on....

BigAl 8 years, 6 months ago

thepianoman, you could be right. I hope not. I hope Gill is here a very long time and is successful. I am optimistic. I am already looking forward to tailgating at the very first game.

Personally, I wouldn't let it get to me to the point of throwing up.

jonas_opines 8 years, 6 months ago

Weak cast, con1. Not gonna catch no big fishes thats way. Minnows for you.

pace 8 years, 6 months ago

I think we need a new type of football coach, a winner, someone who can deliver, a woman.

emptymind 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't know much about Lew, but I did live in Connecticut when he was there and I know they had a celebration when he left.

HuskerVago 8 years, 6 months ago

"jaywalker - Tom Osborne a player's coach???? Just because he didn't scream and yell didn't make him a player's coach. He's a CEO with ice water for blood."

As a Husker fan, Tom Osborne is about as much of a "players coach" as there is. If he wasn't, Lawrence Phillips, Abdul Muhammed, etc., would have been kicked off the team, and Scott Baldwin wouldn't have moved in with the Osborne's after he couldn't play anymore. Completely a players coach. But a perfect example of how that does not mean "soft" either.

On that top 9 list - you know nothing about how Gill coaches. ZERO. Just because he's about teaching, and improving the players as students and people does not mean he's not a hard nosed or fiery coach.

I've been watching his whole career, and he was a MAJOR impact on the success of Tommie Frazier, Scott Frost, and Turner Gill - he was their main influence at Nebraska. None of those three guys would have succeeded on just their talent, they needed tons of guidance and teaching to get where they did. What he did at Buffalo was incredible - people said he was commiting career suicide by going there, that there was no way to succeed.

You people amaze me - Bob Stoops wanted him as the offensive coordinator in Oklahoma, was the #2 guy at Nebraska, and you don't think he's good enough for Kansas? Please.

You just got a huge recruiting boost in Texas, and everything head to head against Nebraska. Recruiters like Ron Brown at Nebraska are not going to be able to look a kid in the eye and tell him that playing for Gill is a bad thing (Pelini can, but that's another story).

By the way, this op-ed piece ignores a major factor in funding and focus. Your sucess under Mangino was directly tied to that, and that didn't exist in the other occurrences of the cycle.

You can never guarantee wins and losses, but I'll guarantee you that your players will step up a level in their performance this coming season.

Robert Rauktis 8 years, 6 months ago

Perkins HAS hired a successful coach...women's basketball!

JayDocMD 8 years, 6 months ago

and Randy Edsall (current successful UCONN football coach)

redbull38 8 years, 6 months ago

If you want a winner the fans need to step up and act like winners. Don't pretend that you know more about it than the coaches. Fans don't know anything about coaching football. Let the coaches do their jobs.

Support the team and the coach. By freaking tickets and go to the game. Half full stadiums don't impress potential recruits. The university should not have to advertise to sell tickets. The university should not have do mini packages to keep fans from the visting school from buying the tickets.

As KU fans you can decide to help or you can decide to hinder. Calling for the AD to be fired only helps other schools recruit against KU. Do you think Pinkle is above telling a kid that the KU fans want to run Perkins out and that if Perkins goes so will Gill? If the AD needs to be fired the people who make that decision don't need the help of jimbob on a web site to help make that decision.

If you want a great football program then support them like you would the basketball program. It would make a big difference. If you don't want to support the football program then you will continue to have the same thing you have always had.

hbjayhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Keep this is mind, when Chuck issues a challenge to the new hire, we do well. I reviewed his write-ups from earlier hires in KU Football and BBall. Only with Self's hire did he predict a "short, but painful" transition forthcoming. Look what happened--two first round losses then an NCAA two years later.

As with Gil, I think that is realistic we will have a great season next year. Look around the B12 North. Why couldn't we compete if our defense plays well?

Torbush and Long have about as crappy of records as head coaches in NCAA history. However, they really aren't head coaches. I see Gil as a gem and the staff is the going to be key.

Revisit this issue after the first year and we will see. Give the man a chance and most importantly, give the man a chance to prove Chuck wrong again.

nobody1793 8 years, 6 months ago

Let me be the first to say that we need to fire whoever they eventually hire after they fire Gill. Then let's also promote that guy's assistant to coach so we can fire him too. The guy after that, well...we'll let him "resign," but the coach after him is sooo fired!

HuskerVago 8 years, 6 months ago

How can you claim nepotism when she was working there before he was? What, she got him the job?

kujayhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

tough = Mason, Mangino nice = Valesente, Allen and now Gill.

Uh oh.

HuskerVago 8 years, 6 months ago

Aaaaahhhhh... you guys kill me. Oklahoma's Offensive coordinator for their championship years is your Offensive coordinator, and you're complaining.


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