Lewis Carroll wrote "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then". That's something people need to consider before they start clamoring for Turner Gills triumphant return to Buffalo.
It's not that Gill betrayed Buffalo when he ran off. Nobody can fault someone for taking a four hundred percent pay increase which also relocates them to a school where their kid is enrolled. It was the right move for Gill, and not a dishonorable one but it was the end of his relationship with the Bulls.
Now two years later Gill has flopped and is out of a job.
The only thing that stopped opponents offenses this season was mercy. In a conference where many teams are trying to pile on points to satisfy the BCS poll driven system teams were burying the Jay Hawks so badly that they actually let up long before the waning moments of the game.
So Turner Gill is out of a job yet six million dollars richer, such is the world of college coaching. You can be run out of town before your recruits are upper class men but chances are you'll have some money to tide you over. Gill's take amounts to what he would have been paid if he had stayed at Buffalo for a dozen years.
Yes, some people have started to talk about how much they miss the Turner Gill days, and how great it would be if Sir Gill stormed Amherst and established a second kingdom with Buffalo. I am not among them!
Here is why...
This is not the Bulls program that greeted Coach Gill the last time:
Is it time for a coaching change in Amherst? Fans will argue about it but the need for a new coach, or to stick it out with Quinn is neither here nor there. As bad as things seem to be with coach Quinn I am pretty sure that Warde Manual would still have an easier time finding a coach than he did back in 2005.
In 2005 nobody returned Warde's calls, folks turned off the lights and pretended not to be home when he dropped by, and if he did get them on the line they pretended to be driving through a tunnel, on their land lines. Yes it was that bad in 2005 because Buffalo had never proven it could be competitive with even the most moribund of Bowl subdivision teams let alone mediocre championship sub division teams.
Turner Gill built a respectable program over the course of a few years, one that made hiring his replacement far easier and that momentum would still carry through to the next hire. Buffalo fans owe a lot to Turner Gill but we don't owe him a job.
This program needs to win with a different coach. Maybe that coach is Quinn or maybe its not but we don't need Gill anymore and running back to him is not a move towards a structurally healthier UB Program.
Turner Gill is not the same name he was last time:
Gill got the Kansas job because he shuffled around (Starks as a defensive back, Scott as a tight end) Hofhers recruits and he did wel in his own right recruiting with Buffalo. He was not in the top half of MAC recruiters during his stint but he did pull in some nice players.
But that Turner Gill is gone. The mess at Kansas transformed Gill from a plucky underdog winning where its never been done to a coach that was embarrassed by an FCS team in his Kansas Debut, and finished 1-16 against his conference.
In 2009 the recruiting calls started:
Hi I'm Turner Gill, maybe you have heard of me. I took a team that never won more than a couple of games a year to a conference championship. Want to come play for me?
Today it might start like this
Hi I'm Turner Gill, maybe you have heard of me. I took a team two years removed from the rose bowl and never won more than a couple of games a year. Want to come play for me?
Can Gill still connect with players? I'm sure he can, that's always been his strength but now he is carrying some career baggage with him which would hamper his recruiting.
Turner Gill, like all of us, has some issues:
No man is a saint. I firmly believe that if you put any person under a magnifying glass you're going to find some serious character flaws and Gill is no exception. So when I say he has "some issues" I am merely stating he is human not the well mannered and completely likable Caricature that people try to sell.
Gill's behavior is just about always been above the board and in general he seems to get along with most people but there was a fair bit of back biting in Buffalo stuff that never hit the presses, stuff that was not all that press worthy. His departure, however, took the common work place discord and blew it up into something a bit bigger.
When he left several coaches were led to believe they too were heading to the wide open pastures of the Big 12 only to be left behind. Worse yet when they were looking around for other work they found that sub par references from "unnamed sources" shut more than a couple of doors.
If Gill did burn bridges with a few on the UB coaching staff than it stands to reason there might be other burned bridges withing UB athletics.
It would be a bad move for Gill:
Gill is not even fifty years old yet. While many are trying to characterize his career as a smoking crater that's just not the case. He is a proven enough coach and recruiter to find his way onto someones coaching staff. Maybe he goes back to a coordinator role, perhaps back to an office job in the NFL.
If Jim Hofher can still be in coaching so can Turner Gill, so long as he does not try to relive the past.
Two things happen if Turner Gill comes back to Buffalo.
He manages to put together a winning team in which case has has a job, in Buffalo. The move to Kansas proves that Gill is not interested in a long term stay at UB but he would need at least a half dozen or so good years before anyone would touch him again and even then it won't be an AQ program.
Alternatively he could fail to bring the team back up to the 2008 level. What then? Failing in back to back head coaching gigs might make that smoking crater a reality.
I wish Turner Gill the best. He is a decent man who took a shot at Buffalo when nobody else would. He treated his players right, gave the fans something for which to cheer. Unfortunately the relationship ended when Gill left, such is the life of a mid major. Perhaps long terms things might have been better if he had stayed but sometimes you just cant go home again.