There has been a lot of activity in the football program since my last post. After the Jayhawks got off to a 5-0 start, the wheels fell off and the season ended with seven straight losses. During the last two weeks of the season, Mark Mangino was under investigation for mistreatment of players. It definitely wasn't a good time to be a fan of Jayhawk football.
It was no surprise that Mark Mangino resigned just a few days after the season ended. And he didn't resign without a big push from the administration. As fans, we've all been concerned about Mangino's obesity. I wrote before the season that he needed to seriously consider getting his weight under control
. We'll never know how much his weight problem contributed to his attitude towards the players and how many recruits it turned away. Now that Mangino has time to himself, I truly hope he can find a way to address his weight so that he can live a long life. Even though he is no longer the coach of the Jayhawks, I'll always remember him as the coach that delivered a magical 2007 season capped off by an Orange Bowl win.
Regardless of how you feel about Mark Mangino, he is no longer the coach and we need to be supportive of the new coach. After watching Turner Gill's introductory press conference
, I am very impressed with him. Will he bring a consistent winner to Lawrence? Only time will tell.
I'll admit that I had wanted Jim Harbaugh. He was the "sexy" hire. Now that I can reflect, I also feel he would have been the wrong hire. Sure, he may have elevated Jayhawk football. I just don't think he would have been in Lawrence long. If he found success, others schools and the NFL would have come calling. We, the fans, will never know what exactly was said in the talks between Lew Perkins and Harbaugh. I'm guessing that part of the reason that Perkins chose to hire Gill was the fear that Harbaugh would only stick around for a few seasons.
When you listen to the press conference, you'll hear Coach Gill make it very clear that he didn't take the job as a stepping stone to something else. While we've all heard coaches say things like that in the past, I was impressed that he said it without prompting and was quite adamant about it. Let's just hypothesize that he is successful at Kansas and Nebraska comes calling in a few seasons. He could stay at Kansas and be the coach that started the dynasty or he could return to Nebraska in hopes of taking them back to where they were in the mid-90s. Even if he won two national championships for Nebraska, he still wouldn't measure up to Tom Osborne. Yet winning one at Kansas could get him elected to Congress, just like it got Tom Osborne elected. We also must remember that his daughter will be a KU grad and I wouldn't be surprised if the same will be true of his younger daughter who is still in high school. Would they allow their father to leave their alma mater?
Turner Gill did not have a great record at Buffalo. He was only 20-30 in his four seasons. When he arrived, Buffalo was considered the worst Division I team in the country. After three seasons, his team had won a conference championship. When was the last time that KU fielded a conference champion? It has been over 40 years! The Jayhawks had a down season in 2009, but they were nowhere near the worst team in the country. Of course they also play a tougher schedule in a tougher conference than Buffalo in the MAC. I would also think that it will be much easier to recruit top athletes to Kansas than to Buffalo. KU offers better facilities, a better conference and the opportunity to win championships. No matter what you think of living in Buffalo, it can't offer those opportunities.
Critics have also complained about Chuck Long and Carl Torbush as offensive and defensive coordinators. Those critics point to their failures as a head coach. Yet they ignore the fact that both of them have had great success in the positions for which they were hired.
One area where Turner Gill has always been lauded is his recruiting skills. His welcome speech re-recruited me as a fan and I have no doubt he will be successful in the living rooms of some highly skilled players. There is little time left to recruit before signing day in February. If Coach Gill can retain most of the players who have verbally committed and pick up a few more, I'll be happy. The biggest test will come with his recruiting next year. He'll also be tested by the results on the field in 2010. I'll go on record with a prediction right now and say that the 2010 Jayhawks will finish the season 8-5. Maybe I'm too optimistic, maybe not. I do know that I'm very excited for the first game and it is more than nine months away.
Welcome Coach Gill and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!