Hire Turner Gill (Seriously)
Husker icon would be ideal mentor for NU quarterbacks
It's the time of year when the coaching carousel starts to spin. Within the Big Ten, we know that Urban Meyer is in at Ohio State and that Ron Zook is out at Illinois. But, the coaching change that is most interesting to many Husker fans is Turner Gill's firing at Kansas. As both a former player and assistant coach, Gill is a beloved figure in Nebraska. Regardless of whether fans find his dismissal from KU fair or not, there is an interesting option where all parties may benefit. Nebraska should hire Turner Gill (eventually). Here's why.
Life Isn't Fair
Let's just say this and get it out of the way -- what happened to Turner Gill at Kansas wasn't fair. (We hear you, Sam.) He deserved more time to develop his program, recruit players and win games. He was the victim of many things - chiefly unrealistic expectations, not having the man that hired him be his boss, and a shifting and unstable landscape among the BCS conferences. None of it is fair. But, life isn't fair. More than ever, coaching has become a "win now" profession. That's just a harsh reality.
Hire That Man...In a Year
Do you know what is a good salve for the burns of an unfair world? Six million dollars. That's how much Gill got paid to leave KU. It's also the reason he will sit out of coaching for at least a year. It's part of a buyout. A person can't collect six million dollars and then promptly jump to the next job. At this point, his career prospects likely include being the Head Coach at a lower level program or being an assistant at a major program. Neither one of those gigs pay anywhere close to six million dollars. Once the buyout is complete, Gill becomes a more viable candidate for a number of jobs. He will get another opportunity somewhere. Why not at NU?
Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons for both Gill and Nebraska if Tom Osborne and Bo Pelini did - in fact - try to "get the band back together" and hire Gill at NU. For Nebraska, the benefits are pretty obvious. Gill is a seasoned coach with a quality reputation in the state. He's got a great history of coaching quarterbacks, particularly in an option-based offense. No offense to the young Joe Ganz. But, Gill's tutelage of Husker quarterbacks would be a significant upgrade. As a former head coach, he would have a skill set that would allow him to take on some of the tasks the Pelini either doesn't like or isn't good at, like handling boosters and talking to the news media.
His being a former head coach is also one of the cons, however. As a general rule, leaders don't want to have staff members who are used to being the chief. In all professions, including coaching, success comes when people know their role. It could be argued that Gill's having been in charge and his close relationship with Osborne could create some role confusion. That would not sit well with Pelini, for good reason.
For Gill, the pros are also obvious. He could continue his career and draw a good pay check at his alma mater and with a program in very good condition. His wife and family know and like Lincoln. He could coach offense and quarterbacks, clearly his preference. It would allow him to rebound while in a great situation.
The cons for Gill are basically a matter of pride. Here's a professional maxim - never go backward. That's what it would be for Gill to go back to NU as an assistant, a step backward. Once a person has a certain amount of money (meaning millions), it's not about money. It's about competition and pride. Going "home" to NU could hurt Gill in those regards.
Whatever Gill decides to do with his coaching career, he will doubtlessly be supported by fans in Nebraska. The man is beloved. Should he get an opportunity to return to Nebraska in a year or two, Husker football would likely be better for it.