Can Turner Gill succeed at Kansas? It's a question many people are wondering about in Lawrence. Gill's success or failure is one of the more fascinating stories to watch as it unfolds over the next few years in the Big 12, I think.
Normally, it would be fair to say that no great expectations should be put upon a new staff and their first recruiting class. That said, Gill is not entering a normal situation.
Say what you will, but the Jayhawk Nation is still largely divided over whether or not it was a wise decision on the part of athletic director Lew Perkins to dump an Orange Bowl-winning coach in Mark Mangino and hire the University of Buffalo's head coach Turner Gill.
If things go badly for Gill and the Jayhawks in their first year, and then worse yet, continue for two years or so, the heat will be intense on Gill and Perkins, and they may find it ever harder than ever to attract quality recruits to Lawrence.
As likable of a guy as Turner Gill is (and he really is that likable), winning is winning and losing is losing. Only Gill's winning at Kansas will likely bring a happy resolution to Mangino's tumultuous end.
While it may not necessarily be seen in this year's recruiting class, Gill has a staff that looks on paper like it can have recruiting success in the future.
Kansas’ new recruiting coordinator, who bailed ship on Ron Zook's fading star in Illinois after five years of working for him, has the potential and connections to really score Kansas some future recruiting victories in the Midwest and California. Arguably, his ability has already been seen in the way in which the Jayhawks lured away a quality defensive back from the Missouri Tigers.
Furthermore, Kansas’ coordinators and assistant coaches all have impressive recruiting résumés. One even notched Adrian Peterson for Oklahoma in the past.
Carl Torbush and Chuck Long are also tested names in college football who have had their share of impressive recruiting victories in the past at other schools. It is possible that they could all replicate their past successes at Kansas in coming years.
The future, you could say, notwithstanding this 2010 recruiting class, still looks bright. In any case, next year's class will be a much better product to judge this staff's worth than this year's.
That said, I promised to "grade" Kansas overall, and I will do exactly that.
Simply put, while this class has some interesting recruits and some potential future stars in it, it is nowhere near what is needed if the Jayhawks are going to compete with the top of the Big 12 and conceivably win the North Division in the near future.
Nebraska is on the rise, ranked in many early preseason polls in the top 10. Missouri appears to be a legitimate contender again next year and years after for the Big 12 North under Gary Pinkel.
Kansas State and Iowa State are potentially on the edge of exiting the conference cellar and becoming year in and year out bowl teams too. Only Colorado, under the likely doomed leadership of Dan Hawkins, seems to have a dimmer future than KU.
All of this makes it ever tougher for Gill to win at Kansas and recruiting successes that much more important.
Kansas' 2010 recruiting class is ranked by most services in the mid 50s in the country. In the Big 12, that makes you are a bottom third or fourth program. In the Big 12 North, both Missouri and Nebraska have top 25 classes. This year's Kansas class is nowhere close to those in quality.
Many fans will wonder after seeing that whether or not Gill was actually an improvement over Mangino. Then again, many fans will probably argue, and possibly rightfully so, that Mangino had a better class put together before Gill came on board.
Now, I am not one to place lots of value in star ratings and hype, but you have to admit that is is no coincidence that the top three teams in the country this year—Texas, Florida, and Alabama—also happen to be the top three teams in recruiting in 2010.
Kansas and Turner Gill have some serious recruiting hurdles to jump in the coming years. They are going to have to do better than they did this year. It's still possible, I think, but we will have to wait and see.
Overall 2010 Recruiting Class Grade: C-