LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait
Coach Gill impressive on first official day
Easy as it might have been for Kansas University football coach Turner Gill to want to move mountains on the opening day of spring drills Sunday, Gill — as those who know him best surely would have expected — chose to flash poise and patience throughout practice.
“It’s going to be an ongoing process,” Gill said, “as we go through every single practice and find out what we’re doing and what we need to do.”
Accepting that is no easy task for a man with as many hopes and expectations as Gill, who fully believes he will have KU competing for Big 12 and national championships someday.
But it is the right way to go about things and the only way to build a bridge between the culture of old and the new way of doing things.
So, with a bounce in his step and a swagger that you can’t help but like, Gill ran his new team through drills for the first time on Sunday.
He spoke with confidence, moved with purpose and showed everyone who cared to notice that he was equal parts demanding and delightful.
His players got the message. Afterwards, four returning Jayhawks were made available to the media and, to a man, each raved about how impressed he was with the new environment.
Senior-to-be Chris Harris, who somehow managed to flash his wide smile even during the toughest times in 2009, grinned a little larger on Sunday. He was the picture of a young man who just got done enjoying playing college football.
As he spoke, he did so with that sort of “Aw, shucks, this is awesome” demeanor. Partly because of his experience, but also because of his passion for KU and football, Harris is expected to be one of the team leaders this season. His boyish enthusiasm for the game is one of the reasons. It’s also contagious, much like the way his coach carries himself.
Quickly, here are a few things we learned about Gill on opening day:
• Though he has a sound football mind and is extremely passionate about the game, Gill is aware of other things going on in the world. As he strolled up to greet a pack of 20-30 media members before practice, he said something to the effect of being surprised that so many were there, indicating instead that he thought we’d be watching Tennessee and Michigan State play in the Elite Eight.
“I thought you’d all be watching basketball or something,” he said with a laugh. Small detail. But nice to see.
• Gill loves competition, looks forward to watching the battles at different positions unfold and said he’d even go as far as to create competition if he felt it necessary.
• The most important aspect Gill looks for in a leader is whether that player raises the level of play of those around him. This goes for the quarterbacks and seniors to the reserve linemen and freshmen.
• He believes in his assistant coaches and was serious in December when he said at his introductory news conference that his staff would be “second to none.” His plan is to “let my coaches coach,” while staying involved with all areas of the team. “I’m an offensive-minded guy,” Gill said. “So I’ll probably spend most of my time on the offensive side of it, but I’ll definitely be involved on both sides of the ball and I’ll be involved in special teams a little more with the return guys.”
The Jayhawks will hit the practice field again today at 3:30 p.m. and again at the same time Wednesday. Players and coaches will be made available to the media on Wednesday so be sure to check back with KUSports.com throughout the week for more.