I decided to write about this today because I was very pleased to see that Kansas reportedly interviewed Turner Gill from Buffalo yesterday. Gill was a celebrated player at Nebraska, so he is very familiar with the Big 12 and respectful of the history and tradition. Gill is a guy on the rise, and he definitely appears ready for the big time, so I think he would be a very good fit. His offense at Buffalo also looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in the Big 12, so it would be very fun to see what he could do with access to better talent. I also think Gill deserves the chance because he took a risk last year that I wish more coaches would take. He was very hot last year after winning the MAC unexpectedly, but instead of jumping at a job, including potentially hisalma mater, he chose to stay loyal for another year at Buffalo. That risk didn’t pay off for him because Buffalo fell out of contention and out of the public eye, but it’s not like he forgot how to coach so he shouldn’t be punished for an inevitable element of college football. Maybe him getting a prime job this year would encourage more rising coaches to exercise patience and show more loyalty to their stepping stone programs.
There is another reason I am really hoping that Gill gets the Kansas job or another similar one. His offensive coordinator in Buffalo is Danny Barrett, and he’s the real deal. Barrett was a very good CFL QB, and went on to be a pretty good CFL head coach as well. He has done very well in Buffalo, and since he is currently the assistant head coach at Buffalo he’d presumably have a pretty good shot at taking over for Gill. I think Barrett would be fun to watch, and I am certain that he deserves the chance to lead a team. As a CFL fan as well, I’d like to see more CFL coaches get the chance in college ball – a style that suits guys with CFL experience well. Mike Riley has done wonders at Oregon State after cutting his teeth is Winnipeg, and Ole Miss offensive coordinator Kent Austin won the Grey Cup in Saskatchewan before returning to his alma mater, so the track record for success is there. Barrett will almost certainly add to that legacy when he gets his shot.
The big coaching story right now is obviously Notre Dame. If you have read what I write then you know that I have little love for the Irish. Putting that aside for a second though, or at least trying, I honestly and truly cannot understand why Brian Kelly is seemingly flirting seriously with taking the job there. He has performedmiracles at Cincinnati. It might be frustrating that he has gone 12-0 and never got even a bit of consideration for the national championship game, but that’s on the conference more than him. Cincinnati wasn’t much when he got there,but he has instantly brought it respect. With that is coming the development of a fan base and newfacilities , and is ability to recruit will grow exponentially as thing go along – especially, I would expect, at quarterback. Notre Dame has the tradition and prestige, but they are also facing a major talent deficit, and consistently faces a schedule that doesn’t contain a lot of soft spots – USC and Michigan are always there, and even Navy apparently isn’t as easy to beat as they should be. Notre Dame is very hard to recruit to because of the academic requirements, and the coach is handicapped by ridiculous scrutiny and intense expectations. Not only does Kelly stand to face much less pressure and much more stability at Cincinnati than at Notre Dame, but I honestly believe that he has a better chance of sustained success with theBearcats than he does in the place where coaches go to die. I would understand his temptation if he was an alumni or if he had a tie to the program, but since he doesn’t I hope he comes to his senses on time and realizes that the grasses is much greener on the banks of the Ohio River than it ever will be in South Bend.
My advice for Louisville, for whatever it’s worth – whatever you do, resist the temptation – Phil Fulmer is not the answer. 15 years ago maybe, but not now. There is a reason that Tennessee fired him despite all he had done.