clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The ReTurner: Why Turner Gill Should Be Buffalo's Coach

Turner Gill is the only man for the job.

Buffalo is a resilient city. Left for dead in the 70's, it is full of people who work hard everyday to make what many consider to be a frozen wasteland a paradise. I left Buffalo for the same reason many people leave Buffalo. Buffalo only has so many opportunities and you can only go so high in the city. In my 20's I was surrounded by New Yorkers and Los Angelinos who knew they would always live in their own neighborhood, and no matter what they wanted to do, they could do it in their hometown. But that's not reality in Buffalo.

I'm in Hawaii, I have friends in Pennsylvania, D.C. New York City, Vegas, Phoenix, Florida, The Carolinas, Boston, I have more Buffalo friends outside of Buffalo than in. My parents moved to Ohio, my sister to Long Island. I rarely make it back to the city because I have so many other places to visit to see my friends and family.

That said, not a day goes by where I don't think about my city. I always imagine I will return there someday. I imagine a better Buffalo, one where we can all return, with our friends and families, a place where we can all live, work and play in the place we love the most.

Departure, longing, and return are major themes of Buffalo's culture. Thus one could say to truly understand Buffalo, you have to live in Buffalo, but you also have to leave Buffalo. Upon returning, you would have truly experienced the life of a Buffalonian and your goal would be to make Buffalo the best Buffalo it could be.

Under that lens, there is only one football coach that could truly understand Buffalo and led the team to long term success: Turner Gill

Long before the NYBI, Buffalo Basketball was competing for MAC Championships (losing in 2005 to Danny White's Ohio Bobcats), but Football was a bottom 10 mainstay. Turner Gill's hire instantly turned UB from a laughingstock to a point of interest. He was the brand of the Buffalo Bulls. The coach who no one gave a chance, took the worst job in the nation and did the improbable, won a football championship. Gill left after 2009 as many Buffalonians do, to chase opportunity, and Buffalonians, used to seeing loved ones go, for the most part gave him our blessing.

Gill went to one of the worst Power 5 jobs in the nation, but he was back in the Big 12, his element. In 2009, Kansas beat powerhouses Northern Colorado, Duke, UTEP, Southern Miss and Iowa State before losing their final 7 games of the Mangino era. Despite a promising win over #15 Georgia Tech in his second game as Kansas Coach, Gill went 4-8 in his next 12 games, and then lost 10 straight. Gill was fired after only two years and a 5-19 (20.8%) record, since Gill's firing Kansas is 6-25 (19.4%). Since Mangino's final win, Kansas is 11-51 (17.7%).

Gill moved on to Liberty, where he is 18-12, but 9-2 in conference, earning a share of the Big South Conference each of his two years at Liberty. His coaching at Liberty however has been overshadowed by the fruits of his labor at Buffalo. His parting gift to the City of Good Neighbors were a local Wide Receiver who could catch everything, an un-scouted Linebacker who would be drafted #5 overall and a diminutive Running Back from Miami who is Bodozing NFL defenses. UB alums could be offensive and defensive rookies of the year this year, and they were both recruited by (and only by) Turner Gill.

Five Big Questions

Why Danny White needs Gill?

UB has nine basic factions

Hate White Moderate White Love White

Love UB

His reforms have failed so far White has established a standard of improvement, in a way, the failure of the Quinn extension supports White's house cleaning. I trust whatever White Does
Moderate UB We have fired everyone, we have won nothing. Clocks ticking White has good ideas, but has poor execution. Look at Hurley, whatever choice White makes, it will be a big splash.
Hate UB Anything White does is a slap in the face to Buffalo Buffalo is not good enough to attract a good enough coach. White is making good moves, but he'll just jump ship as soon as he gets the chance.

I'd consider myself to be Moderate White, Love UB, however, I'm a football guy, and I'm falling down to the Moderate UB, Moderate White area. I'm not happy with White's football record and I'm not going to let him rationalize the Quinnstention with the Qunnishing.

That said, for me, hiring Gill would put me in the Love White/Love UB category again. I wouldn't be the only one, the Gill hire satisfies many of the nine types of UB fan.

Love/Love, Love/Moderate - Will be happy with anyone.

Love/Hate - Feel White has failed, so a throwback to success pre-White will actually insulate White from the decision. I love UB, I don't trust White, but I trust Gill, thus I'm happy.

Moderate/Love - White has good ideas, this could be another good idea, and Gill is a proven winner at UB, so less risky a splash than others.

Moderate/Hate - Replacing a coach with a proven winner at UB, again can take the heat off another White coaching swap.

Hate/Love - Even if White jumps, chances are less likely that Gill jumps again.

Hate/Moderate - Buffalo cannot attract a high caliber coach, so they must speculate. Once they find a good one, he will most likely leave to try the power 5. Gill already through that cycle, can come to UB and build something long lasting.

Hate/Hate - This would be a gift to Buffalo. Gill has the heart of many in the city, doing what it takes to return Gill to Buffalo would show fans that White listens and cares about what we want.

What does Gill bring to the NYBI?

Gill brings a great story, he brings good recruits, and his name still holds weight in college football. If you're going to rebrand, you can tie your rebrand to a man who will get national attention. His redemption story would be watched eagerly from coast to coast. Locally, White has sold 22k Bulls tickets to fans who never embraced coach Quinn. White did an amazing job, but he could never beat the attendance record set by Gill's first game against Temple. Imagine the attendance numbers with White and Gill together. Buffalonians who hate the NYBI and/or the Reggie firing could feel that White finally threw the Buffalo based Bulls fan a bone.

We'll Make It Better, The Second Time Around
First Stint Second Stint
Coach Years Record Percentage Left For Years Record Percentage
Mike Riley 2 8-14 36.4% NFL 12 84-61 57.9%
Bobby Petrino 4 41-9 82.0% NFL 1 6-2 75.0%
Mark Whipple 6 49-26 65.3% NFL 1 2-6 25.0%
Bill Snyder 17 136-68 66.7% Retirement 6 47-23 67.1%

What does Gill bring on the field?

Gill recruits. Ask WMU how that can change a team. In his return to Buffalo, he'll be able to tout his Nebraska legacy, his MAC Championship at Buffalo and his recruitment of Khalil Mack and Branden Oliver. He will not have Tepper on defense. Gill had two OCs and two DCs in his four year tenure. He won't fall in love with an ineffective coordinator.

What does Gill bring to Buffalo?

Balance. So many people around the program have dropped the name Turner Gill. People want it to happen. It unifies a fractured fan base and removes the Turner Gill shadow that hangs over and inhibits the growth of our program. It erases the bad of 20xx and 201x and takes us back to the glory, fun and belief of 2008.

Why would Gill want to go to Buffalo?

Who doesn't want to return to Buffalo? The great city, with great opportunity, people who embrace the community always want to go back. We all assume Turner Gill wants to coach in the FBS, but the Sun Belt seems unwilling to extend a bid to the Flames. Buffalo puts Gill back in the FBS and with White's NYBI, gives him a chance to build his program in one of the largest States in the country. Gill, a man of faith, loyalty and ambition, could see Buffalo as the best opportunity to excel at a high level in a place where he will be supported.

Danny White listed what he wanted in a coach: An inspirational leader, a communicator, a world-class recruiter, it sounds like he wants Turner Gill. If I was him, I'd be on a plane in Virginia doing all I could to get the coach Gill back to Buffalo.