LJWorld.com weblogs Dugan' A., Man
OMG! Did you hear about Turner Gill??
So Turner Gill is interviewing for the Kansas University football coaching job today.
At least I think he is. He might not be. Probably, he isn’t. I’d say there’s at least a decent chance that, at this very moment, the Buffalo head coach is sitting on his couch at his house in western New York, watching NFL games and eating an ice cream sundae in his bathrobe.
The thing is, no one of any consequence has confirmed the Gill-KU interview. Not Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins, who’s in the midst of a search to replace recently resigned coach Mark Mangino. And not associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, who has declared he won’t be confirming or denying any rumors associated with the ongoing search. In fact, the only indication that this might actually be going down is the fact that a CBS commentator made some off-hand remark before Saturday’s SEC championship game about how Gill would be interviewing with Kansas today.
Coaching searches are weird. Those on the outside want to know everything and those on the inside want to share nothing, and it always seems to lead to a bunch of wild rumors and speculation.
Coaching searches are also, in many instances, massive wastes of time. In fact, if you had to rank the three things that most contributes to the lack of productivity among sportswriters, it would probably read like this:
- YouTube videos (particularly “Kittens Inspired by Kittens")
- Office debates (Example: Would Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Brandon Jennings beat Mario Chalmers 10-0 if they played one-on-one, or would Chalmers figure out a way to score one point?)
- Coaching searches
This is because coaching searches are all about chasing down unsubstantiated rumors. You see a post on a message board from some dude, and he’s saying that his stepbrother’s boss knows this guy who’s the godfather of a kid who takes piano lessons with the son of a woman who’s husband works as a trainer for the Kansas football team, and he totally heard that Turner Gill was at the Lawrence ‘31 Flavors’ last night.
And so, because you’re scared that this dumb, stupid, idiot rumor might somehow be true, you start hitting the phones, calling everyone you can think of — sports information directors, other beat reporters, KU athletic department spokespeople, agents, ice cream stores in the great Kansas City area, players — and then, after getting stiff-armed (and, in many cases, laughed at) for four hours or so, you find out that Message Board Guy’s stepbrother’s boss’ friend’s godson’s mom’s husband actually heard that Turner Gill wasn’t at ‘31 Flavors’ last night. It was all just a big misunderstanding.
Don’t’ get me wrong. I’m not really complaining. Coaching searches, by nature, are pretty exciting to cover, and the thrill of the chase pretty much makes it worthwhile.
I’m just having a hard time figuring out why all the hoop-jumping is necessary.
Maybe I’m missing something big here, but what, exactly, is the point of all the secrecy? I mean, what’s the problem with Lew Perkins stating publicly, “This weekend, I’m going to interview Buffalo’s Turner Gill for our head coaching job. We like what he’s done with the Bulls’ program, so we’re going to talk to him a little bit, gauge his interest in the job. Then we’re going to talk to a couple other potential candidates — we’ve got interviews lined up with Houston’s Kevin Sumlin and Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh — before making the decision we think will benefit the Kansas football program most”?
Like, is that really such an unthinkable way of handling things?
I have to believe that at some point in history, athletic directors handled coaching searches in this manner. And by “in this manner” I mean “logically”. Before college sports became all business-ey, surely, athletic directors and reporters sat down like gentlemen and had a conversation. The reporters asked questions and, and the athletic director answered them and then everybody went on their way.
At some point during the past half-century, however, some athletic director somewhere decided that, hey, we can play this fun game where we don’t tell anybody anything about our coaching search, and it will be like this cat-and-mouse game and everybody will have so much fun playing it. And then other athletic directors followed his lead, and so here we are.
Now, it’s bat-crap nuts. Nobody says anything about anything. And not only does nobody say anything, great lengths are gone to to make sure no information whatsoever leaks out. The KU athletic department, for instance, found some loophole in a law meant to protect government and state officials, and so now the athletic department’s planes can’t be tracked by the public. (Which, it should be noted here, is completely insane. I mean, we’re talking KU athletics here, not something really meaningful and important to the world).
And so that leads us to today: It’s Sunday afternoon in Lawrence. Turner Gill might be interviewing for the Kansas job today or he might be watching the Chiefs play and eating Ben and Jerry’s.
Anyway, I’d love to stay and talk about it, but I’ve got to go make 17 calls to try and confirm a rumor I just heard about how Tommy Tuberville’s daughter may or may not have called the KU admissions office to ask about January enrollment.