Meet a Candidate: Turner Gill

Things have been moving fast in the world of college football coaching changes this week. The Syracuse position still remains open, and the candidate pool has seen many changes already. To review:

  • Former USC assistant and Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin has been hired to replace Phil Fulmer at Tennessee. Kiffin seemed to be a candidate at Syracuse do to his USC ties with athletic director Daryl Gross.
  • Oregon squashed any chances of offensive coordinator Chip Kelly coming to Syracuse by naming him their coach in waiting behind Mike Belloti.
  • Temple head coach Al Golden interviewed and then said he is not interested in the position.
  • UConn’s Randy Edsall told us to fuck off.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to present some facts and my thoughts about possible candidates for the job. Some have interviewed, some haven’t. Some have been mentioned as candidates. Others are people I think should be considered. The full list will be compiled here for an easy reference guide.

First up, Turner Gill.

gill2006-present Buffalo (Head Coach: 14-21 record)
2005 Green Bay Packers (Director of Player Development)
2004 Nebraska (WR Coach)
1992-2003 Nebraska (QB Coach)

Who is he?: Buffalo head coach Turner Gill has been mentioned as a possible G-Rob replacement for over a year. He also interviewed for the opening at his alma matter, Nebraska, last year before it went to Bo Pelini.

In his short tenure at Buffalo, Gill has turned around one the worst college programs in the country (winners of only five games in four years prior to his arrival) into a respectable team. This year the Bulls are playing in the MAC championship game after going 7-5 and will make their first bowl game since moving to D-1A in 1999. Gill also led the Bulls to a co-division championship last season while taking home MAC coach of the year honors.

What does he bring to the job?: Gill is a very gifted offensive coach and has established a balanced attack in Buffalo. This year the Bulls ranked 63rd nationally in rushing, 34th in passing and 36th in scoring. Running back James Starks was sixth in the country with 122.6 yards per game. Wideout Naaman Roosevelt was ninth in the country with just under 100 yards per game, and Drew Willy is finishing his career with over 8000 passing yards and close to 50 touchdowns.

Gill has no problem in taking over downtrodden programs as evidenced by his tenure down the thruway. He is able to get the most out of his players and seems to have no problem with forfeiting immediate success to gain more in the long run, something any potential SU coach will likely face.

Gill also has solid recruiting ties in both the Northeast and the Midwest. His class last year even had three players from Tennessee, showing that he is capable of recruiting in any area of the country.

Why wouldn’t he be a good fit?: It is widely believed that Gill would want to return to the Midwest in order to be in the running the next time the Nebraska job opens up, or just to return to the Big 12, something Donnie Webb has speculated on. Fans and alumni might not want a coach who is only using this position as a stepping stone to something greater.

What are his chances?: I have to agree with Sean at TNIAAM: unless a major development with Tommy Tuberville comes about, or the Texas Tech job opens and Gill is considered a candidate there, Gill will be the next head coach of Syracuse.

Gill can rebuild a program and can recruit in New York and the rest of the Northeast. He can bring a staff with him (something Robinson didn’t have in place) and be ready to hit the ground running in recruiting and installing his system in spring practices.

I’m not worried about Gill leaving for a better job in a few seasons. For him, this job is a chance to prove himself for a future job in the Big 12 or at Nebraska should Pelini be let go. And that would be a perfect situation for Syracuse. Nothing is wrong with bring in a young coach who can turn around the program in a few years and then moves on. If he moves on, that obviously means he was successful at our school and is leaving it in a better place than it was in before.

I think Gill would be a good choice to take over. He might not be a flashy pick or have as much experience as some other candidates, but he is a solid choice to turn the program around.

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