Next up on our get to know a coaching candidate series is one of the first names that popped up in the discussion even before the Kansas coaching position was even open.
Sitting at the Kansas versus Missouri game at Arrowhead I heard the name Turner Gill in connection with the position and discussed by the parents of players and an assistant coach from a fairly respected high school program in the state of Kansas.
The talked cooled a little bit from there but after today Gill has officially interviewed and is obviously a candidate for the position and may in fact prove to be the candidate for the position in the end. That said, let's get to know Turner Gill a little more.
Turner Gill hails from one of Kansas' prime recruiting grounds of late in Fort Worth Texas. Gill was a star high school player at Arlington Heights High School and heavily recruited by two Big Eight schools at the time in rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma. In the end Tom Osborne and the Huskers won out and the rest is history as Gill enrolled at the University of Nebraska in the fall of 1980.
Gill got his first break as a Husker when during the 1981 season Osborne inserted Gill into a game against Auburn trailing 3-0 at halftime. At this point the 1-2 Huskers were at a bit of a key moment in the season and Gill was the savior. Gill led the Huskers to a win against Auburn and followed that up with an unbeaten season in the Big 8 winning the conference outright for the first time in 10 years.
Gill again would lead the Huskers to the Big 8 title in both 1982 and 1983 as a junior and senior respectively. During his senior season Gill led a Husker offense averaging 52 points and over 400 yards per game. Gill would finish fourth in the Heisman trophy race an award won by teammate Mike Rozier.
Following Gill's prolific college career the NFL wasn't exactly beating down his door. However Gill did find his way into the CFL with the Montreal Concordes. In two seasons with the Concordes, Gill had 727 pass attempts with 411 completions for 4,928 yards and 23 touchdowns to 24 interceptions. He also had 826 rushing yards on 173 carries and seven touchdowns. His career was cut short however at the age of 23 after a series of serious concussions led to the recommendation that he call it quits.
After a few years experimenting with another passion in Major League Baseball Gill would return to Nebraska as a member of Tom Osbornes staff. Gill coached the quarterbacks for the Huskers from 1992-2003 and spent a final season in 2004 coaching the wide recievers. The name Turner Gill even then would pop up in association with coaching jobs but he never seemed to be the right fit or find the right position.
In 2005 with a changing of the guard so to speak in Lincoln Gill found himself with the Green Bay Packers organization as the Director of Player Development. Gill spent one season with the Packers before taking his current position at Buffalo.
In December of 2005 Gill agreed to a five year deal with the University of Buffalo to be their head coach. In four seasons Gill's teams have gone 2-10, 5-7, 8-6 and 5-7 this season. Gill's success in the 2008 season and a MAC Conference title led to his name popping up with some bigger name programs in Auburn and Syracuse. Both schools passed on Gill in favor of other candidates and Gill agreed to an extension at his current post making him one of the highest paid coaches in the MAC.
Skeptics of Gill believe he hasn't proven enough as a head man to warrent the reigns of a BCS program. In reality he has only put together one winning season as a head man, but he did do it in Buffalo. The other concern with Gill is similar to that of Harbaugh. Should the alma mater ever come calling, will Gill jump at an offer from the Corn? Gill was in the running prior to the hiring of Bo Pelini and if he one day blows a gasket so big Tom has to make a change, will Gill head home to his coach?
On the other hand Gill does have connections in the midwest, connections in the state of Texas and given the right opportunity he might be able to put his stamp on a program of his own. "Give Gill the resources and watch out" has been thrown around out there even.
Gill is a guy that someone is going to give a shot to someday, it's up to Lew to decide if Kansas is the school that wants to take that shot. It could end up being one hell of a hire or it could be one that Lew will live to regret. Regardless this isn't the "homerun" hire so it's bound to stir some emotions after the way Manginogate went down.
Personally, I think Kansas could do a lot worse than Gill and giving a young energetic guy with ties to the Big 12 a shot could prove to be a great move. Gill might not be my first choice, but he's a choice I could support 100%.