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.

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Comments 36 comments so far

I hope Illinois takes a look at him.  Having Turner Gill in the BIG would be almost like coming back without the backwards step.

Speaking only for myself, I would love to see Turner Gill at Nebraska. Others will speak for themselves.

I like the idea.

I also disagree with the notion that taking an assistant coaching job after being a head coach is somehow something to hurt the pride. It happens all the time in coaching. Look at the NFL. The sidelines are full of former head coaches doing what they do best. Bill Callahan is a good example.

Should Mr. Gill choose to continue coaching, an position at a major college program or NFL team would serve to enhance his resume.

Good luck, Sir.

Just make ole Turn head coach.. Then we can have a losing record like Buffalo, Kansas and everywhere else hes been at.

I would love to see Turner Gill back at Nebraska but would hate to think it could make Joe Ganz without a position. Both have bright futures and would love to see them both on the Cornhuskers sideline. I just don’t know if it in the long run would work unless Gill was willing to study, learn and wait out the offer that will eventually take Bo away from Nebraska and let’s be honest we all know Bo will not be the next 25 year coach. Gill on the other hand could be the heir apparent for the head coaching job once Bo finally takes the next job offered and it is a matter of time. I truly believe that Bo not only doesn’t totally get the Nebraska atmosphere but he really doesn’t like it and is just waiting it out until he can move on to another school. Gill on the other hand knows and loves the Nebraska traditions and with time could do the job with the right staff and players. Let’s hope it happens on TO’s watch.

Bo is the face of the program. What HC would ever hire a coach specifically to serve as a fundraiser and publicist? Turner would be better served to come back via the Alum Association. He’d better serve Nebraska in that capacity. There’s no room for him on Bo’s staff.

Turner, my advice is not to rest too long.  Get back to NU if it is your heart and don’t look back at the J Hawks. You know where the love is.  Do what you do best….

I suspect Joe Ganz is going to be a terrific coach, wouldn’t want anything to slow his progress, and hope that that progress is here at NU.

i don’t think going back to your roots is a step back, look at all the coaches in the nfl, they move around like flies on a cow pile.

Is anyone else thinking this?

Dr. Tom won’t be in his current job forever, and I know he won’t leave until he finds a suitable replacement.  I for one cannot think of a better candidate for the AD job than Turner Gill.  Perhaps Tom should consider hiring Turner in some role and groom him into an AD.  Who else knows Nebraska athletics better?

Just a thought.  I think it’s worth a consideration.

In reality Turner should come back next year after his 1 year 6 mil payout and take over as our OC.  No offense to the guy we have now but he is not any better than Shawn Watson who we got rid of.  Let’s get Turner and have him return us to Nebraska’s identity of power football with the option.  Let’s move in that direction and be the best team there is doing THAT rather than trying to be something we are not and hover to mediocrity being the 22nd best team trying to run the offense we are now.

Paul Meyers will be the next AD at Nebraska. TO is grooming him now.

No offense to Turner, but geez, as a head coach he hasn’t exactly built the ideal offense, mind you our offense this year could use some additional work.  At least the play calling this year was far superior to the last three years.  However, the line play and recieving left some work desired.  We still need to search for an offensive cooridinator that can teach the play and build the offensive juggernaut Nebraska once was…I guess Osborn’s don’t come along very often!

For those not impressed with what Turner has done at Buffalo and Kansas I think you have to look at what he inherited from the previous administration.  Buffalo had only won a few games over the previous 10 years. Turner came in and Turned around the program in just the first 2 years. You also have to look at some of the teams they played. As with Ohio they play one or two teams each year that would give Nebraska a fright. At Kansas they did beat Georgia Tech last year.  They had a long way to go yet though but the light in their souls had been lit.

Awesome read! I would love it if Bo hired Turner Gill in some capacity. The cons of such a move are well documented in this piece, but I think Turner’s personality would allow for a good relationship between him and Bo, and I don’t think you’d see problems with him not knowing his place in the program. I would be ecstatic if he rejoined Nebraska.

If you think Turner getting fired after 2 years is unfair, try firing Tim Beck after one season.  It would be great to have Turner back but not as OC.  Not sure what the right answer truly is but not giving Tim Beck a chance to build his offense would be just bad.  It would be incredible to see him as a QB coach but don’t see that happening.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out

Thanks for all the comments and feedback. Several of you have mentioned specific positions for Gill, if he were to return.

Let me be clear about my take on a specific position - it would be as quarterbacks coach, which I implied with both the sub-headline and the section comparing his worth to Ganz.

By no means do I advocate Gill returning as OC to replace Tim Beck. Beck is doing a fine job and deserves many more years in that role. Nor do I think Gill is a fit as an administrator. The man is a coach… let him coach. His track record as a QB and as a QB coach is very good. His resume in other regards is rather spotty. Osborne used him as a QB coach, not as an OC. That’s what he may be best fit to do, at NU or any place else.

If Gary Patterson gets the offer he can’t refuse (UT-Austin) when Mac Brown finally steps down (or is urged to take the AD job), then TCU might be the place for Turner. I truly believe that Turner’s overtly Christian posturing will be more accepted at a Christian University than a public school.

Yeah, he’s Turner Gill. Words can’t describe.
Okay, so, who do you let go?
Do you send Fisher back to Massachusetts and the golf pro gig?
You put him at QBs and remove the rapport that Beck’s developing with T-Magic?
You send Joey off, and make Turner the intern buddy?
The line still needs two coaches, which it should’ve always had.
This isn’t his offense, from 8 years ago. An offense he didn’t use from Buffalo to now, anyway. Though, he does have some residual wco background, from Lincoln and Green Bay and this offense has kept an element of it, with its protections.
I mean, obviously, he could learn it.
The offense is poised to make a leap, imo.

Naw, he should take the obligatory year off, but keep in circulation, with conferences, conventions and the speech circut.
He can get another HC job. Maybe again, in the MAC. Or, the Sun Belt.
He’s a man of profound depth. He’ll file this away, to a useful place.
Obviously, more than anything else, you want what’s best for him and his family.
At the moment, thats not at Nebraska.
Had he been a position coach, a year ago. Or, especially, an awesome coordinator…

TG is family. I’d love to get him back somehow…..


Houldenback…. are you serious?  Bo doesn’t get the “whole” Nebraska thing.  In one year…Bo got more of the Nebraska thing than Callahan did in 4 years.  I believe Bo would love to stay here. the thing I wouldn’t like if i was him is all the crap that people give him constantly!  He’s done more in the time he’s been here than Callahan did.  Things change and you have to adapt. I think he’s doing that!  and I for one would rather have a good defensive minded head coach with a good offensive coordinator than a bad head coach.  Bo is still growing… It reminds me of TO when he first started.  He took a lot of grief too when he first started and came pretty darn close to leaving because of it…  Thank goodness he stayed!!!  Give Bo a break!  Get off the Bo’s gotta go band wagon and give him the support he deserves. Too Bad he wasn’t hired in the first place when they fired Solich.  Just think where we might have been if he had.

Pesronally, I’d like to see Turner back at nebraska…Offensive Coordinator, QB coach, Assistant Head Caoch.  Whatever He does, He’ll always be a Husker!  :-)

IF Turner would like to come back, why not use him as a Life Skills mentor.  That is what young men today need the most and he certainly is good at that!

It doesn’t matter who is the OC, QB coach or whatever NU has on the offense staff, NU will NEVER be a championship team until Taylor is no longer the QB!

Taylor Martinez has out performed many of the best Nebraska quarterbacks. Of course, these are facts and not as important as some peoples opinion. Facts are difficult and terrible things you know.

The fact is Turner Gill has been a head coach for six years and had a winning record once.  In his third year at Buffalo he went 8-6.  His record was worse in each following year.  The fact is, while he will always be a member of the Nebraska family, he is a very bad head coach.  He got lucky one year and parlayed that into 10 million dollars.  Let him come back and visit the team and get his standing ovations, but do not put him on the staff in any capacity.

Randy. The fact is that he took over a Buffalo program that had won less than a hand full of games in more than a decade total. Starting at less than 0 with talent and no winning tradition is very hard to overcome in just 4 years. Their schedule during his time included Penn State, Auburn (2006)Penn State Syracuse (2007),
Pittsburgh, #5 Missouri and #12 Ball State in (2008). All tough opponents for a small college on its way back from 0.  Again, going to a Kansas that was a complete disaster with no quality players and playing a full Big 12 schedule with top level competition. They did win the GA Tech game in 2010. To say he is a bad coach is very insulting and untrue.  Now go to your room.

Ummmmm…...let’s see here….maybe the most obvious “con” might be that Osborne chose Pelini over Gill for HC?????  How does that seriously not enter the author’s head as numero uno?  LOL

For those that lack a sense and understanding of history, Nebraska in 2007 was rated at 112th in defense. The biggest gap was defense and that was the primary reason Tom Osborne said that he chose Bo. And he was right at the time. Nebraska needed to have an immediate improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Bo had done it in 2003 and was successful in 2008 again. Tom Osbourn’s logic was sound at the time. As usual.

Everyone keeps mentioning that he beat Georgia Tech in 2010.  Big Deal!  He took a team that was two years removed from an Orange Bowl victory and beat a team that finished with a losing record.  And if Georgia Tech had seen the drubbing that North Dakota State had put on KU the previous week, then they couldn’t possibly have been taking the game very seriously.  Stephen, have enough respect to spell Osborne’s name correctly, and if you’re confused, ask your mommy.

Superstar, thanks for your opinion and correction of Coach Tom’s name. My mother died 20 years ago so that suggestion was a non starter.  Point taken though.

I love Turner, but keep him away from Lincoln.  Bo should not have to put in the position of being forced to take him by TO.  Tom passed him over for a reason.  Plus, in any role his moralizing, no cell phones or women will hurt the program by treating men as little boys.  Will Bo be prohibited from swearing on the sideline?  Would the
Peters brothers thrive in such an atmosphere? It’s bad enough having Ron Brown and Bo’s priest on the sideline.

NO.  Turner, I’m sorry is not a QB groomer.  Much like Michael Jordan was a crummy coach, just because Turner was a QB, doesn’t mean he can fix mechanics and teach the skills necessary to play D1 ball today.  Nebraska is not an OPTION team…it’s just what they do until a QB with the skill sets of a RG3 comes along who can run AND pass effectively.  NU needs two things…A TRUE QB coach like Florida, LSU, etc…and a wide receiver coach like an Oklahoma State, Florida State, etc…oh, and get rid of Barney Cotton.  His dated O-line coaching looks more like his days in Hastings than a team looking to legitmately challenge for any championships!

Unfortunately, several commentators on this article have exploded the myth that Nebraska has the best and most knowledgeable fans in the country. Whatever happens in the future we have to have faith and trust in Dr. Tom and Bo for moving the program forward and insuring that they have recruited the best players/students for Nebraska. Anything else is just reckless opinion. Which is why they do not read or care about what is written by the “fans”. And I use the term loosely, Many of these dissatisfied fans are the same ones that cheered the departure of Coach Solich and really thought a 20 year old offense (wco) was the right choice for Nebraska. They were wrong and many of us are wrong today.

For those of you following along at home (and there are several of you), Turner Gill has a new job with Liberty University. He will be the head coach for the Flames, who are an FCS school.

Also - I have a significant correction to make to this post (written in November). It turns out that in December, the full terms of Gill’s seperation from KU were released and he does NOT have to give back the $6M buyout if he is hired elsewhere. This is pretty irregular.

So, in the coaching carousel of 2011 - count Turner Gill among the “Big Winners” - to the tune of $6 MILLION and a job/mission he can love.

LOL…you guys have no idea how bad Turner Gill is as a head coach.

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