Turner Gill was fired yesterday from a head coaching position he held for a mere two years.
In those two years, Gill’s record was 5 and 19.
The content below was written by passionate Kansas alumus @lsmav.
After the Mark Mangino era, former AD Lew Perkins was out to make a statement in his first (and only) football head coach hire. In all his wisdom, he gave Coach Gill the most favorable contract in the Big 12 and a guaranteed $10 million dollars over 5 years to a coach who was only making $500,000 at Buffalo. With today’s firing of Turner Gill, the University of Kansas has to swallow the remaining $6 million dollars of Coach Gill’s contract to go along with the 2009 settlement with Mark Mangino. The problem at the root of all this is that Turner Gill was never a good hire.
He was 20-30 as the head coach of Buffalo with a conference record of 14-18. His only MAC championship game appearance came after his team scored 33 points in the 4th quarter and overtime to beat Bowling Green for the East division championship. In Buffalo’s win over undefeated 12th ranked Ball State, Ball State out-gained Buffalo 503 yards to 201 yards but turned the ball over five times. Two of the fumbles were returned for touchdowns (returns of 92 yards and 74 yards).
Those two wins were the only wins of significance in his short career as a head coach. Those two wins somehow propelled him into being linked with the Auburn job. With his name linked to a massive program, he became college football’s hottest commodity. His supporters brought up his success as a star quarterback for Nebraska, his reputation as a well liked coach by his players and quarterback guru, his success at Buffalo, and his race as being a great commodity in recruiting and relating to players.
They ignored his record. They ignored the fact that he had been a head coach in a major conference. They ignored Coach Gill followed up his championship season with a 5-7 season. They ignored the fact that just a year before his mentor, friend, and coach Tom Osbourne didn’t considered him ready for the Nebraska job. While Kansas does not have the history, finances, or the recruiting power of Nebraska, it was a football program in a BCS conference with recent BCS success (2008 Orange Bowl) that was a remarkable leap from the University at Buffalo.
The University of Kansas’s fanbase is a relatively realistic and forgiving group that understands the Orange Bowl run was padded by a weak non conference schedule and that there would be growing pains under a new coach. Despite some recruiting success, Coach Gill only managed 1 conference win in two years (that required overcoming 28 point 4th quarter deficit over second worst team in the conference Colorado), lost to a FCS team North Dakota State, and went 5-19 overall. The problem was that the Jayhawks weren’t competitive and were routinely out of the game before the 4th quarter (10 losses by 30 points or more).
In today’s economy, it’s an absurdly bitter pill to swallow for Jayhawk faithful when a coach with a mediocre resume got a job where he was paid 4x more than he did at his previous job, performed poorly, and still went home with every single dollar of his $10 million dollar contract. With the dearth of African-American head coaches in college football, there is no question that Coach Gill’s race was a large reason why he was such a hot coaching commodity. Former AD Lew Perkins bought into the hype and ignored the resume. Now Coach Gill joins a long list of coaches who were given reins to a major program before they were ready, and KU once again has to build itself out from the bottom of the Big 12.