Monday, November 28, 2011
Big 12 coaches not fans of hasty Gill exit
By ESPN.com staff
Turner Gill was fired by Kansas on Sunday with a 5-19 record and just a 1-16 record in Big 12 play, but his former peers in the Big 12 disagreed with the decision.
"I think it’s bad for our profession. Especially in the sport of football, with so many bodies and such a philosophy to build and all the development that takes place," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said of Gill's dismissal after two seasons. "We’re in our third year here and we’re just now starting to see the physical differences needed to compete in that league."
Rhoads said his team got "physically whooped" in a 52-0 loss at Oklahoma last year. This year, the 26-6 result was much closer, and he credits his strength staff for beefing up both of his lines, something that can't be accomplished so quickly.
"That takes time to build that up," he said. "It’s bad for our profession, coaches getting two years and then being let go."
Part of the reason Gill didn't get an additional year or more to fulfill his five-year, $10 million contract was the man who hired him, Lew Perkins, had since retired amidst a ticket scandal and been replaced by Sheahon Zenger. Having a man in the administration willing to fight for Gill could have changed his fate.
"That’s very unusual. I’m glad I have (athletic director) Mike Alden here, so when we were building our program here at the beginning, I had somebody to stand up for me," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I think there’s no way in the world you can build your program, a program that’s been down, and flip it that quick, or even have a chance to flip it that quick. I think it’s really disappointing."
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops admits every situation is different, but as a coach, he hoped the same principle persisted through every department.
"For all coaches, I wish that we’d all have more time," he said.
Texas coach Mack Brown, who is the nation's highest-paid coach at $5.1 million, says it's indicative of the changing landscape of college sports, and the importance of football programs within an athletic department.
"College football has become more like the NFL. There’s a tremendous amount of money involved. My salary, for example. The salaries that coaches are making now are so much more than before," Brown said. "Facilities, the arms race in facilities. We have 101,000 people that bring a whole lot of money to the city of Austin each weekend we play here. They bring a whole lot of money to the University of Texas."
Brown reminded that Gill was on the short list of up-and-coming coaches sought after by several programs only a few years ago, and a year removed from a MAC title at downtrodden Buffalo, ended up at Kansas.
"Turner Gill is a really good man, he’s a smart man, he’s a really good football coach or he couldn’t have won at Buffalo. He’s a guy that everybody in the country was talking about as being a great young coach, and I know absolutely, two years isn’t long enough to get a program turned around," Brown said. "I am a Turner Gill fan. I hate to see this happen to him and that staff. They had some really good coaches on that staff and I hope he can find a new place quickly, because he’s a guy that college football needs."