KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 800-pound gorilla took on a different form Saturday night. Turner Gill’s job security was the $6 million buyout in the room Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Both were hard to ignore.
There is wide speculation that Gill, Kansas’ second-year coach, will be the next major-college coach fired following Missouri’s 24-10 win over the Jayhawks. The former Nebraska star is 5-19 in two seasons in Lawrence.
Gill may be next up on the chopping block in a coaching silly season that figures to pick up momentum this week. Arizona just filled its opening. Ole Miss and North Carolina remain open. But the jobs at Illinois, Tennessee, Memphis, Arizona State and Ohio State could soon come open as well. According to reports, Urban Meyer is expected to formally announced any day as the new Buckeyes’ coach.
Kansas, at times, has been laughably bad this season finishing 2-10 while threatening to set an NCAA record for average yards allowed (531.45, last in FBS). Six of the losses were by at least 30 points.
Names being tossed around already include Mike Leach, former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops. Leach still is dealing with three active lawsuits following his December 2009 firing from Texas Tech. Leavitt left South Florida after being accused of laying hands on a player. Stoops’ sideline demeanor was an issue at Arizona but his team also slumped badly toward the end. He was 41-50 in eight seasons.
“I think a positive is that our guys stuck together as a team,” Gill said after his team blew a 10-0 lead. “They were truly a team inside and outside of the lockerroom. They played their hearts out.”
It may not be enough. Gill was hired by former AD Lew Perkins and handed a five-year, $10 million guaranteed contract starting in 2010. If he were fired, Gill would be owed every cent of the remaining three years ($6 million). Some KU booster(s) will have to dig deep if they want a change. But it may be worth it at Kansas which has been able to tolerate mediocre football as long as it doesn’t embarrass the basketball program.
It is embarrassing the basketball program, gaining national attention for all the wrong reasons.
“It’s hard to turn something in two [years],” Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long said.
“We all understand three [years]. We all understand that [is a key time for a coach] … But we feel like 2012, 2013 could be good years for us.”
Long has been in this situation himself. The former Heisman runner-up was 9-27 in three years as head coach at San Diego State.
“If that [two years] was the case they probably would have fired me too,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “I wasn’t the most popular guy in my first four years here … He’s [Gill] a colleague and a friend. I don’t think there is any way you can make a decision on a program in two seasons.”