Archive for Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turner Gill out as KU football coach

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 27, 2011, 4:11 p.m. Updated November 28, 2011, 12:53 a.m.


His goal was to turn Kansas University football into a dynasty, but the experiment ended with him going down as one of the least successful coaches in school history.

Through it all, KU coach Turner Gill, who was fired Sunday afternoon with three years remaining on the five-year, $10 million contract he signed in December 2009, functioned as a man of class and integrity. He just couldn’t win football games.

“I admired Turner Gill as a person going in, and I admire him more going out,” first-year KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said several hours after the firing.

Zenger broke the news to Gill at a 4 p.m. meeting in Zenger’s office. The discussion lasted 15-20 minutes and featured a coach whom Zenger described as cordial throughout. One other member of Zenger’s senior staff was present in case questions about the contract came up. None did.

As outlined in his contract, Gill, who came to Kansas after a 20-30 stint at Buffalo and guided the Jayhawks to a 5-19 record in two seasons, will receive $6 million within the next 90 days. Zenger said the money would come from a redistribution of revenue streams — most notably the increased dollars from the Big 12’s new FOX television contract — and that none of KU’s share of the exit penalty that has yet to be received as a result of Texas A&M; and Missouri’s departure to the SEC would be used.

“That money was going to go to whatever our top priority was, and our top priority just became this transition,” Zenger said of the television dollars.

As for moving forward with a new staff, that, too, will come from existing university dollars.

“We will tighten our belts, and I will do fundraising to support the next staff,” Zenger said.

In addition to dismissing Gill, Zenger also removed the KU football program’s strength and conditioning staff on Sunday. KU’s strength and conditioning program had been under fire for poor performance throughout Gill’s tenure, and Zenger, a former football coach, said a solid strength staff was crucial to a football program’s success.

“It all begins in the weight room,” Zenger said. “The tone gets set there. The discipline gets set there. Everything starts in the weight room.”

One of Gill’s strength coaches, former KU player Joe Vaughn, told the Journal-World on Sunday night that even though he was disappointed about the decision, he understood that college athletics was a business.

“I’m happy my alma mater gave me this opportunity,” Vaughn said. “I’ll always love KU, no matter what.”

The nine assistant coaches who worked for Gill, at least for now, have been retained. Each has 18 months remaining on his contract, and their place at Kansas figures to be re-evaluated by KU’s new head coach. Many of them will continue to work for, recruit for and be paid by KU in the coming weeks.

Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell has been appointed as KU’s interim head coach, and beginning today the Jayhawks will move ahead with heavy hearts and a new focus.

“Right now, I can’t even explain it to you,” said sophomore linebacker Darius Willis, who also played for Gill for one season at Buffalo. “I’m all over the place right now. The dudes that want to be leaders on this team are going to have to step up and just keep us together. We can’t lose each other. We lost a great coach, but we gotta stick together, because if we don’t, it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

Gill and his coaching staff met with players in small groups for about two hours Sunday evening. Many emerged from the Anderson Family Football Complex with tears in their eyes and spoke to reporters about being surprised and disappointed by their head coach’s firing. Others elected not to talk. Gill was a member of the latter group.

After the final players exited the facility, Gill left through the back door without saying a word. His wife, Gayle, and their youngest daughter, Margaux, pulled their car around back to pick Gill up and he walked past reporters without talking. Many players said Gill remained positive even while meeting with them for the last time.

During his short time in Lawrence, Gill completely changed the culture of Kansas football. The answer to the question of whether he changed it for better or worse was what ultimately led to his removal.

The Gill Era started on an embarrassing note with a loss to FCS opponent North Dakota State. Gill’s team followed that up with a spirited upset of No. 15 Georgia Tech, but no momentum from that performance carried into the rest of his reign. Gill’s teams too often looked unorganized, undisciplined, unable to adjust and uncompetitive.

Overall, his teams lost by 30 points or more 10 times, including losses this season by scores of 66-24 (Georgia Tech), 70-28 (Oklahoma State), 59-21 (Kansas State), 43-0 Texas and 61-7 (Texas A&M;).

Gill’s lone Big 12 victory, a surprise, 52-45 comeback win, came at home against Colorado, Nov. 6, 2010. Again, the momentum of a comeback from a 28-point, fourth-quarter deficit didn’t carry into the next week, despite it being the largest comeback in KU history.

So now, for the second time in 24 months, KU turns its attention to another coaching search. There’s a new man heading up the search this time around, Zenger, but, thanks to the realignment madness that has captivated college athletics during the past two summers, there also are new stakes.

Sources have told the Journal-World that the search will move quickly, as Zenger essentially has had the past several weeks to map out a game plan for identifying a successor to Gill.

“I have no specific timetable,” Zenger said. “Naturally I would like to have a new coach on board as soon as possible.”

Early signs of coaching-search mania hit Lawrence late Sunday night, when rumors of a plane carrying former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach began to surface. Many reporters and even a few fans flocked to the Lawrence Municipal Airport to await the plane from Key West, Fla., near where Leach keeps a home. When the plane parked near the terminal and the door flew open at 9:56 p.m., a Lawrence family returning from vacation stepped out, somewhat surprised by the welcoming.

“Sorry. We know who you thought it was,” the father said with a laugh.

And so it begins.

For more on what's next for KU football see our list of coaching candidates.


jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Put Gale Sayers in charge of the search committee.

vuduchyld 6 years, 6 months ago

Exactly...why would he be anything BUT positive?

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Nice work if you can get it. Get a multimillion dollar contract, do a bad job, get fired, and relax and enjoy the millions. Sounds like he's been training to be a wall street banker or multinational corporate CEO.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

There's really no reason for piling on. A good decent man as been fired by a good decent university. His failure has been our failure. I wish him well as I'm sure he wishes us well. Move on.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Yeah. I'm sure like Liberace he is crying all the way to the bank.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

Would you sign a multimillion dollar contract for five years' work? I would. Gill did his best which wasn't very good, but it's not his fault that the University of Kansas offered him a dump truck load of money with a career 20-30 record.

Who's the biggest fool here?

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 6 months ago

I meant, "the bigger fool" you know, comparison of two, not three or more entities.

purplesage 6 years, 6 months ago

It is unfortunate that Coach Gill did not have success at Kansas. As to the outlandish salaries being paid in sports at college and professional levels, to players and coaches alike - that's another matter. No one should go and watch or turn on their televisions until some sanity is restored - but that just isn't going to happen.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Don Shula? Bill Parcells? Jimmy Johnson?
Maybe a well off Lawrence resident coming home after a long weekend in the sun?

Mandie Eutsler 6 years, 6 months ago

My money says it's a rich guy coming home from an extended vacation in FL...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe it's Jimmy Buffet coming up to have a few margaritas.

SinoHawk 6 years, 6 months ago

It is obviously Urban Meyer. Why would he coach a downtrodden program like Ohio State when a gem program like KU comes calling?


CLARKKENT 6 years, 6 months ago





pizzapete 6 years, 6 months ago

I think we needed to give him a little more time. Maybe we should've never gotten rid of Mangino...

Kylee Manahan 6 years, 6 months ago

I think it was an omen when Turner Gill would not allow Coach Fambrough in to talk with the team last year before the KU/MU game as he had done for many years just because he didn't like Fambrough's language and of course this year was too late to make up for it. Rest in Peace, Don. We miss you!

thebigspoon 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, Les, KU has one of the premier climate change operations in the nation in the ice sheet monitoring station on the west campus.

KDWinTexasNow 6 years, 6 months ago

Really?!?!?! Climate change is the biggest global humanity faces?

If there was credible evidence to support the claim that fluctuation in temperatures is caused by man, or anything more than natural cycles, you might have a leg to stand on.

If the data is so overwhelming, I wish the keepers of it would publish the data publicly so that people beyond the Select Few could analyze it. Or are we too simple-minded to comprehend it, hence our complete reliance on the Intelligencia?

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 6 months ago

Great, now hopefully you'll can find something more meaningful to complain about ....I doubt it.

Wayne Propst 6 years, 6 months ago

Lew Perkins should have been fired when he hired his son-in-law.....that was an early sign of mangeno $3,000,000.& his assistants 3,500,000....Gill $10,000,000 & his asstants $5,800,000...low ball for new person $5,000,000.... a total of $27,300,000 ....Thank you lew.perkins....$27,300,000 WOW....

akt2 6 years, 6 months ago

Turner Gill's Short List of Things to Do This Morning - 1. Decide which tropical resort he wants to spend the holidays. 2. Go to the bank. 3. Pack up his KU gear to donate to The Salvation Army. 4. Start his Christmas shopping, multi-millionaire style.

Jeremiah Jefferson 6 years, 6 months ago

Gill's firing changes nothing. KU football sucks, always has and always will. Thats just the way it is. You would think by now people would get used to that idea .

Matt Kuhlman 6 years, 6 months ago

^^One of the only truthful, reasoned posts made about the situation. You could resurrect Tom Landry or Vince Lombardi to coach KU football and they still wouldn't be that good. People who believe that the coach is the main force behind whether a team wins or loses need to realize the idea that a coach can make inspire any team to the top through fiery, passionate leadership is the stuff of TV and movies. Sure, a good coach can increase your chances of winning, but at the end of the day there are much bigger factors that determine the long-term success or failure of a program. And people need to quit acting like Mangino was a genius. Take away the fluke Orange Bowl season where we lost to the only decent team we played all year and still got a title out of the deal, and you're left with an incredibly average, if not sub-par coaching career at KU.

Armen Kurdian 6 years, 6 months ago

I don't agree w/that...Mangino took us to three bowl games and brought the team up from the Terry Allen era. Coaches aren't paid to be nice guys. Niceness isn't one of the paramount traits as a leader. .

BigAl 6 years, 6 months ago

"Gill's firing changes nothing. KU football sucks, always has and always will. Thats just the way it is. You would think by now people would get used to that idea"

And yet Kansas is basically tied all-time with Missouri and leads K-State by a wide margin. What does your comment say about them?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

If they give them the same contract that Gill got ($5.1 million a year, highest paid coach in the country) they'll get lots of takers.

Tracy Rogers 6 years, 6 months ago

The better question is Who wouldn't want to coach at KU? The way they throw money around, a coach would be crazy not to.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, he's probably wondering why Gill got a severance package twice as big as the one he got.

Richard Payton 6 years, 6 months ago

Leach really?? Didn't coach Leach once get the biggest fine in Big 12 history.

CardHawkFan 6 years, 6 months ago

God bless and good luck Coach Gill! I understand that things didn't work out for him as I hoped they would have. It is a business and unfortunately nice guys rarely survive in it. The thing that is lost in this mess is that had he been successful on the field, he would never had left for a "better" job. Regardless of what will be said as replies to my post, I wish him the best in the future (I hear Memphis and UAB have openings). The players truly seemed to care about him, and that says a lot considering the product on the field was tough to stomach. It seems as though the only thing that isn't better off from knowing him was our overall record. Of course, that is how you measure a coach.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

"It is a business and unfortunately nice guys rarely survive in it. "

$10 million for two years' work-- I'd say he survived just fine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

I've been trying to get the job since they fired Mangino, and they wouldn't even have to make me a millionaire.

But so far, they haven't even responded. Go figure.

somedude20 6 years, 6 months ago

I heard that KU just hired Bill Cower. Zoinks!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Something gives me a feeling that lots of people avoid you like the plague.

John Pultz 6 years, 6 months ago

Do Sports Really Make Money for the University? Barbara R. Bergmann Academe Vol. 77, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1991), pp. 28-30 (article consists of 3 pages) Published by: American Association of University Professors Stable URL:

According to the research of this economist, the myth that college sports make money is false in most cases. Google "do college sports make money" for further research arguing that the answer is no. Individual teams may make money, but spread over the entire athletic program the answer is no. Researchers have used statistics from Maryland, Florida, California/Berkeley and other programs.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 6 months ago

A post I made on another thread:

$10 million for two years of a losing football coach.

Donors buying out his contract to the tune of $6 million.

This is reprehensible and highlights the insane position that college athletics has in the university. I realize that it is all about money, but it makes the research and education mission of the university look like a second thought, which apparently it is.

How many donors would pony up $6 million for endowed professorships to keep the professors at KU? The answer: none or very few.

$6 million would endow at least 4 science professorships and many more in the humanities and social sciences.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

I give this racist comment about two minutes before it gets removed.

Don Whiteley 6 years, 6 months ago

$6 million to pay off the contract of a losing coach and who could say how many million more to buy a new one. And our university gladly takes on this expenditure at a time when they are holding out on salary increases to professors and making cuts to their educational programs. Sure good to understand where KU's mind is at. Why don't we give up the hypocritical title of KU as a university.

Bob_Loblaw 6 years, 6 months ago

Nice sentiment, but Kansas Athletics Inc. is literally an entirely (legally) separate entity from the KU you are talking about.

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 6 months ago

Go peddle your left-wing "global warming" bulls**t somewhere else, you butt-head; this is a SPORTS article !!! You and your fellow travelers "cooked the books" over at Cambridge on this subject anyway, or have you forgotten??? Besides, none of us give a damn what you and your OWS trash think !!! Go kiss your Obamanation bumper sticker, you'll still be stupid but you'll feel much better.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

6 years, 6 months ago

Zenger just tied his own hangman's noose ... he is going to have to compete against too many programs that are viewed better foorball schools.

Should have waited one more year - would have looked better all the way around. Go ahead and dismiss the the strength and conditioning group - that makes sense if you want to get stronger. But Gill - you should have waited.

bornon7 6 years, 6 months ago

As a wife and mother, I would welcome my husband being fired and getting all those millions!! I wouldn't have to hear how stressful his job is, and how much people hate him, and my child would not have to endure the cruel comments made about his/her father. Not his fault KU hired him. Gill sounds smart to me. Mrs. Gill, have a great nights sleep....Merry Christmas.

budwhysir 6 years, 6 months ago

who comes up with these ideas and contracts???? The political world of contracts will bankrupt this university within the next 10 years. I hope the alumni has ALOT of money to throw away....

budwhysir 6 years, 6 months ago

oh, and by the way, getting paid 6 million dollars to be fired, makes you out of NOTHING. You are not out of time, out of money, out of options, out of your mind, out of a house, and on and on and on. You are however, set for LIFE..... No matter what happens.

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