Archive for Saturday, November 26, 2011

KU’s next move must be bold one

Kansas head coach Turner Gill leaves the field after KU's loss to Missouri in the Border War on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill leaves the field after KU's loss to Missouri in the Border War on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium.

November 26, 2011


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.

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. Enlarge video

— Two years ago, after Mark Mangino had just coached his final game for Kansas University with a loss to Missouri and a seven-game losing streak, he spoke into a microphone on the table in front of him. His last words after eight years on the job: “I will tell you that I may be one of the more pleasant people to deal with in college football. Trust me.”

Turner Gill sat in the same seat Saturday in Arrowhead Stadium after his team battled the same opponent and extended its losing streak to nine games. His final words, like his two-year reign, weren’t as interesting as Mangino’s.

“I think we can be competitive next year,” Gill said after Saturday’s fall-from-ahead 24-10 loss to Missouri. “I think we have some players in here. We’ve got to put together good things and continue to recruit, and we’ll be ready to roll next year.”

Surely, he had to know that it’s over, but what’s he supposed to say? “It’s not my problem anymore. I’m out of here, and within 90 days I’ll be $6 million richer.” No way he would even think that, much less say it. Gill will learn officially, possibly as soon as Sunday, that he’s not coming back. And it won’t be the end of the world for him.

It cost Kansas $3 million to buy out Mangino, and Gill has $6 million coming to him. Those figures don’t include the assistant coaches’ guarantees. The temptation is to stand atop the mountain and scream, “This must stop. Settle on a coach, and leave it at that.”

Ideally, of course, the next coach will not do anything to inspire anyone to make an issue of his treatment of the players, will win and won’t want to coach anywhere but in Lawrence. Ideally.

Now let’s talk reality. This can’t be a defensive hire, a safe hire. This situation calls for an aggressive, bold if necessary, move, one that awakens a fan base lulled into apathy. After two years of going 1-16 in Big 12 play, getting blown out by the upper-division schools, leading at halftime only to get owned in the second half against some others, this won’t be an easy fix.

Mike Leach has multiple lawsuits in play, including one against Texas Tech, a Big 12 member and his former employer. He’s also suing ESPN, which some believe is the reason Maryland didn’t hire him. Maryland’s failure or unwillingness to work through those issues doesn’t have to apply to Kansas. Clearly, Leach has an uncanny knack for identifying quarterback prospects and developing them. He’s a proven winner. His name alone would energize ticket sales.

Even so, if things can’t be worked out with Leach, Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger can’t cave to the pressure of having to name a big name and shouldn’t necessarily restrict himself to someone with experience as a head coach. Mark Stoops, the youngest of four brothers from Youngstown, Ohio, is Florida State’s defensive coordinator. No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama are the only BCS schools with defenses that have given up fewer points per game than Florida State’s 15.2. Stoops didn’t make the transition from coordinator to boss at Arizona, you say? Bob Stoops did, I say. Each brother deserves to be judged individually.

Either hire gives Kansas a better football coach than it had the past two seasons.


anon1958 6 years, 6 months ago

How about a bold move in a direction that doesnt involve wasting millions of dollars on football.

The only memorable football event in the last 15 years was when an enraged KU football player became wedged in the drive through window at Taco Bell when he was pursuing a chalupa. A football player with his big butt hanging out that window is about as interesting and newsworthy as KU football gets.

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd say winning an Orange Bowl was a "memorable football event" !!!

vuduchyld 6 years, 5 months ago

Football is not only self-sustaining, it provides revenues that cover the costs of hundreds of scholarships for non-revenue sports.

This is actually pretty darn important to KU at times of declining enrollment.

LeBo 6 years, 6 months ago

Mike Leach or keep Gill are the only decisions. Gill has recruited, Mangino was great but arrogance got the best of him. Thus, I think Gill has one more year. (I am pissed too, but 'C'mon MAN!'

3up3down 6 years, 5 months ago

I am tired of wasting money on hires here and then buyouts when it does not pan out in winning seasons "immediately". It takes time to build a program. We have a ton of underclassmen in the fold. Gill's recruits are but frosh and sophs and not many of that group play starting rolls in any program. To me, Gill gets two more years to put this program in a positive winning season direction. If he can't do it with his seniors he recruited then he has proven he is not ready for a D1 program. Then you can dump him, spend less on the buy out and look elsewhere. We need to quit being a revolving door for football coaches.

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 5 months ago

Why are you so worried about the "buyout" money? Unless you are one of KUAC's big donors, it's not coming out of your pocket. These are not normal times in BCS football; KU does not have "two more years" to get their football act together. Conference realignment will start up again as soon as UT determines whether its Longhorn Network is viable or not. If KU football is still stumbling around like this then, they are doomed to eventual membership in something like the WAC or Mountain West conference. And if you don't think that would negatively impact KU basketball, you're dreaming !! Nobody around the country would be interested in staying up to watch KU playing in Laramie, Wyoming (not to mention the effect on recruiting). Time to stop the bleeding and try to entice Mike Leach with an opportunity to get back in the Big 12 !!!

IslandContributor 6 years, 5 months ago

If there was a LIKE button I would have pressed it!

Jock Navels 6 years, 5 months ago

So, Missouri and Texas AM got into the SEC because of their prowess in football? Give me a break. Now, if the KC television market moves to lower Tennessee, then KU might have a conference affiliation problem down the road. Football is a zero sum game...not every team can be a top tier team. Maybe HCTG is aso on a learning curve, and he might tighten up the screws and start demanding excellence instead of accepting pathetic as the norm. Replacing a head coach after only 2 years sends a bad signal to prospective hires. Give him 2 more years. If he hasn't gone to the Cotton bowl at least, then fire him.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 5 months ago

Why would a "hot" coach come to KU when they just fired the last one after just two seasons? Usually three years is the minimum to fire a coach.

Bursting 6 years, 5 months ago

Are you trying to say that Gill was "hot" when we hired him? I and many many others knew it was an absolutely terrible hire from the get go. Thanks Perkins for screwing us before you left! Sick joke buddy.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

What made Gill semi-hot (lukewarm) was the controversy that got stirred up by Charles Barkley when Gill was not hired by Auburn. Those Tigers hired a coach with a losing record, who then got a QB who's father may or mat not have received money under the table. Auburn got themselves an NCAA investigation, a tarnished image and a national championship. A year later we got the coach with a squeaky clean image, not a hint of any NCAA violations and a 10 game losing streak. Both schools picked their poison.

2GenLtown 6 years, 5 months ago

My heart is sad that coach Gill couldn't have more success here. He is a much better man than Mangino was. But good football coaches aren't always good men much like good generals aren't always good men.

Hopefully Zenger will make the right hire and bring in Leach. Obviously he will be given all the time needed to win a reasonable amount of games, which I don't think will take too long. There were a few game Leach could have won this year . . .MU, Baylor, and Texas Tech.

irvan moore 6 years, 5 months ago

gill was a terrible mistake, he has to go and he has to go quickly so kansas can hire a real coach. i'd like to say "thank you" in advance to those with money who are going to pay the buyout and help get kansas back on track. bgl talks about excellence, this is her chance to show she is willing to do something to achieve it.

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm the guy typically preaching patience, but this team is poorly coached and uncompetitive. Another year won't change that. It only puts KU one more year behind rebuilding their program. I think most of us agree that Gill is a fine man. One you want to root for. But once it's clear that he's not the right man for the job, you have to make the change. Zenger has a history with Leach. It will be interesting to see if that's where he goes.

7texdude 6 years, 5 months ago

I am not a Turner Gill fan, but there is a better way to fix the football program than eating $6 million. Make him fire every defensive coach and try again next year. Maybe he can recruit a QB and some players. KU has not had a playmaker on defense since Talib. Give Gill another recruiting class and let him coach another year.

If the Hawks stink again next year - which they will regardless of who the coach is - then fire him and you saved $2 million. Use that $2 million to clean up the rest of the athletic department. Gill is not the only KU coach who needs to go.

2GenLtown 6 years, 5 months ago

Every defensive coach? Did you see the offense lately? The defense was responsible for all the points scored vs MU. Fire every last coach on the team, minus HB coach Reggie Mitchell, because he can recruit and the HB's were the bright spot this year.

grisgris 6 years, 5 months ago

We made a lot of mistakes on the last round and let some really talented coaches go. We need to be smart, keep Reggie Mitchell. He is a great coach and his recruiting skills are far above average. It's too bad we can't entice back Chris Dawson. Our strength training department needs some love.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

If Gill can't take the players left to him and coach them into a productive team, what makes anyone think he can do it to the ones he recuited himself? Recuiting players isn't a magic wand. He has no system to inspire players to achieve perfection. His new recuits will be lackluster players too, no matter how good they played before becomming a Gill recuit...

vuduchyld 6 years, 5 months ago

Yep. If he knew he had holes in his roster of these epic proportions, he could have recruited some stopgap juco talent.

GILL MUST GO. He's overmatched.

newmedia 6 years, 5 months ago

Full circle. LJW can now finish their article of a couple weeks ago about a coach that took an Mid-American Conference eastern university's football program from a laughingstock to respectability, moved on to a Div 1 BCS school and then took that school's football program from respectability to a laughingstock, compensation not withstanding. Guess it is true that what goes around, comes around.

friendlyjhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

I am disgusted with KU for wasting millions on sports. Where does that money come from? Are alumni such greedy fools that they waste their money this way? If there is 9 million to be spent in the name of KU put it in classrooms, technology, buildings but not all on the football program. If KU was a bank everyone would be righteously protesting.

BigAl 6 years, 5 months ago

You have a point. Please feel free to spend your money however you wish. I am sure that KU Endowment would welcome a check from you on Monday morning. I know for a fact that some alumni are giving to the athletic dept and also giving to classrooms, technology, buildings and yes, even the Marching Jayhawks. A person shouldn't bury his/her head in the sand and pretend that sports are not important to a university.

Mandie Eutsler 6 years, 5 months ago

Can we buy tickets to the classroom events? Is there something to cheer for in there?

Ronnie24 6 years, 5 months ago

I agree with anon and3up, At least give him one more year. He has been recruiting. It takes time to build his team. Gil is still coaching some of Manginos players. Give the man at least 1 more year.

scarletbhound 6 years, 5 months ago

The problem I have with Keegan's column is that he and the LJW sports staff have failed to inform me about the state of the KU football program. When Gill came to KU the cupboard was pretty bare -- not a lot of talent left from the previous regime. Gill decided to build his program with high school recruits. He came in when the recruiting season was mostly wrapped up and was unlikely to get any top-notch players. The only "pure Gill" class is the current freshmen crop. This is a very young team and shows all the expected growing pains. Would anyone judge Bill Self based on the freshman performances of the Morris twins or Jeff Withey etc.? What I want to know -- and what the LJW has failed to provide -- is insight into the direction of the program. Do the players have confidence in his leadership? Do the coaches respect Gill? What kind of potential lies with the young players and does the Gill staff have the ability to develop it? Despite the lopsided scores this fall have seeds of future success been planted? None of those questions have been answered by the LJW sports staff. I have seen no in-depth analysis by a credible, competent reporter examining these issues. That suggests that Keegan and crew are lazy or simply incompetent journalists. The KU football program is not the CIA -- a good reporter should have the inside skinny on Gill's program. Yet, the LJW seems to have no inside sources to give readers a true picture of the football program. Instead all we get from Keegan and Co. are silly, unprofessional rants. Do some real reporting, Keegan.

sharong 6 years, 5 months ago

Frankly Scarlet..... He has proven that he is not a good coach. Any KU football player with an eye on the pros, could not make it. How sad. Just because you like him as a person, does not give him the expertise to coach college football. These kids need direction, which they did not get on the field. It's time to let Gill go.

Mandie Eutsler 6 years, 5 months ago

This an op-ed... ...and why would you compare Gill to Bill. Seriously? Bill Self's teams are competitive, always. He never stops coaching. Gill only coaches in small moments and not the whole game. I have doubts he'll be able to recruit after this season anyway. Who would come here to get their asses handed to them every Saturday? ...and Mangino won an Orange bowl with "his" players so your argument there is baseless. ...and what part of 1-16 in Big 12 play, nine game losing streak are you not getting. That would be the state of our program. It's not good. I would say that the list of people with confidence in Gill is really, really short. Because if he had lots of support, I'm sure someone would write another story about it. Yes, there was a story about the players supporting Gill, but I bet they don't now...

boknowssports 6 years, 5 months ago

to all the Gill lovers, face it, he sucks as a Division 1 football coach, and if we keep him, you may get a 3-9 next season. By ALL accounts, this team went backwards in every area this year. The offense started out good, but look at their rank now. Pathetic. A team takes on the persona of its coach. We have a soft coach, we will always have a soft team. If you want wins, Gill is not your man.

Bruce Johnston 6 years, 5 months ago

T^he playcalling on offense, the lack of fundemental execution on offense and defense, makes a coaching move imperative. There is no reason to think the team will be any better with another of year under Gill and his coaching staff. I'm as mad as anybody about the coaching changes. But Perkins hired the wrong coach. You don't keep him in place because you want to save money. Three years ago this team was 12-1 and won he Orange Bowl. With better coaching, this team should be more competitive.
I keep hearing Mike Leach's name mentioned as a possible replacement for Turner Gill. I think he is a bad choice because of his lawsuits of the Big-12, but more importantly, this team's strengths are at running back, not QB and receivers. I still hear no mention of Jim Leavitt. Would he not be a good fit, or is he not interested in the job? Who knows. I agree with Keegan that Mark Stoopsd might just be the right fit here. And he might bring in his brother Mike to be DC.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

Or Bill Cowher. Or Vince Lombardi. Let's be real.

rgh 6 years, 5 months ago

I hate losing just as much as all other Hawk fans but with a few minor assistant moves, we should give Gill one more year. I do give credence to the seniors who have spoken up in favor of him. We can't continue to manage just a few offensive yards and give up 500+ yards and expect to win. We need a new weight program and some intense assistants. With that being said, you can't overhaul the entire scheme either and expect things to change immediately. New assistants brings new terminology, etc. which takes time to adjust.

grisgris 6 years, 5 months ago

I second that, and whatever we do, at least consider a new quarterback. There's some talent to be had in the junior college level.

Mandie Eutsler 6 years, 5 months ago

yeah, Quinn Mecham. There's your Juco hero...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

They were pretty bad this year--no question about that. But do you really think posting this will alleviate your obvious issues of insecurity?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

The simple fact is that not all schools in a major conference can be powerhouses. The Big 10, the SEC, the PAC 12, and on and on all have their low achievers. And the powerhouses like having at least a few of those teams around just to pad the schedule. Sadly for KU football fans, KU is in that category, and no new coach is likely to have much more success than Turner Gill has had. They'll have the occasional good year (and if allowed to stay, that goes for Gill, as well,) but that's about it.

But KU's basketball program will always be attractive enough to a major conference that they'll be accepted as a member, even if the football program tends towards the mediocre.

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 5 months ago

It sounds like you're resigned to "mediocre" KU football and that the situation is hopeless. I disagree! Look at Baylor and Iowa St. this year. Look at KSU and Bill Snyder. Mediocre programs CAN be improved; you just have to make better coaching choices! KU has made an enormous number of stupid personnel decisions in the past. Bob Valesente, Terry Allen and Turner Gill should have never been hired. I can't believe KU couldn't have done better than Glen Mason and Mangino either. They may have been better than the first three but they both had serious flaws that eventually did them in. The bottom line is, KU fans deserve a coach who exhibits leadership and, at least, appears to know what he's doing. TG is not that man !!

Your second point about basketball couldn't be more wrong! The only thing driving conference realignment so far has been number of TV sets first and then at least a decent football tradition. KU has neither, but they can at least attempt to improve the football situation.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

Get used to lowered expectations as long as KU football is stumbling around with GIll running the show.

6 years, 5 months ago

I have yet to figure out why anyone would want Mike Leach at KU. First he has leagal issues pending with TX Tech - you don't want that distraction at KU. Second his ability to recruit good players is no better - if not actually worse - than Gill. Third Leach won games at Tech ... but his defenses were no better than Gill's. Fourth Leach is not a "company man" - he is more in the make-up of Knight and that type of coach would not fit in at KU.

What has to happen is to find a quality D coordinator. The loss at the start of the year of the D coordinator was huge. I'm guess that over the last three or is it four years KU has had 4 defenisve coordinators. Not healthy. They need to find someone who can come in quickly, work with these guys over the winter and get them into a system that works. Let the current D coordinator go back and work with the secondary.

At the same time KU needs to find a tough as nails strength and conditioning coach who will get these guys stronger and faster. That right there will translate into three wins - or would have this year. They have the old Baylor guy - the one before their current guy who has made a difference for their program.

Finally Gill needs to run the offense. The curren offensive coordinator is way too predictable. I believe the first pass on 1st down was done until less than 2 minutes left of the 1st half. KU wasn't able to run on MU ... so why keep running on 1st down and make yourself go 2nd and 8?

Mandie Eutsler 6 years, 5 months ago

I'll bet Mike Leach can spell better than you can...

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 5 months ago

Your characterization of Mike Leach seems to be largely your personal opinion and highly biased. Here are some facts from Wikipedia: 10 years at TT; Overall record 84-43; Conference 47-33; Bowls 5-4; 5 players won national awards (best quarterback, best wide receiver, etc.). KU football would die for numbers like that !! Leach's suit against TT doesn't have to be a distraction at KU (and might even be withdrawn if he were back in coaching). Most KU fans, I think, would prefer a winner over a "company man", whatever that means. As for your other allegations, poor recruiting, poor defenses, etc., I think his won-lost record pretty much disproves them. Also, keep in mind that TT was in the Big 12 South Division during this time so he had to play UT & OU every year !!

irvan moore 6 years, 5 months ago

gill is the problem, he has the final input on the way the plays are called on both sides of the ball, time to start over. hey keegan, are you hearing anything about what's going on with tg?

John McCoy 6 years, 5 months ago

No one can excite a fan base more than Mike Leach. Hire him before someone else does.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

Ron Zook just got fired at Illinois. 'Tis the season. If the Jayhawks do make a move, I think the name Nolan Cromwell ought to be mentioned. That's not to say he should be at the top of the list. He's a career assistant coach, mostly in the NFL. However, he was an offensive coordinator at Tex. A&M, an area we certainly need to recruit. And hiring "in family" always guarantees that the person has the best interests of our family in mind. And speaking of keeping things in family, if we do make a move, Gale Sayers ought to lead the search committee.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"I'm confused as to why Gill is still coach as of 2:51 on Sunday afternoon."

Easy. The reasons number about $6 million.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

TOB seems to have seen the future, clever lad that he is.

Martin Shupert 6 years, 5 months ago

Bring back the good old days when we had the longest losing streak on the planet. Make football a club sport again. This is SAD!

Gregory Newman 6 years, 5 months ago

you are the only one that makes since plus recruit in California. Recruiting so it is claimed 3 star Texans ain't cuttin it they don't look to much faster than the last group and they act like they are afraid to tackle

Gregory Newman 6 years, 5 months ago

3upand3down is the only one that makes since plus recruit in California. Recruiting so it is claimed 3 star Texans ain't cuttin it they don't look to much faster than the last group and they act like they are afraid to tackle

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