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Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill Brings New Atmosphere to Jayhawk Football

JDAnalyst IMarch 26, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 28:  Members of the Kansas Jayhawks run onto the field prior to their game against the Missouri Tigers during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony knew Kansas needed a football coach who would garner not only statistical success, but would turn this program into one that embodied team and school spirit as well.

Newly hired head coach Turner Gill made it clear upon his arrival that he would meet this goal, and his own lofty expectations for the Jayhawks, by taking care of business off the field first.

Making Changes

Freshman running back Ryan Burton said that as soon as he arrived on campus Gill began making changes to help mold the Jayhawks into great football players and upstanding individuals. 

Unlike the fiery, strategy-first style of former head coach Mark Mangino , Gill’s coaching philosophy is centered on a positive attitude, team unity, and personal relationships.

Individual players have pointed to specific changes.

-Red-shirt sophomore linebacker Steven Johnson says he likes the new “BELIEVE” acronym Gill uses to describe the faith every player should have in himself and his peers.

-Freshman kicker Nate Kalish says all game jerseys now bear an identical “Kansas” logo rather than a surname, and players are required to wear uniform T-shirts to workouts.

-Kalish also says that Gill has even changed weight-lifting into group-work challenges that are more conducive to team-building and entertaining than standard lifting.

-Burton says that Gill makes his presence felt as a part of the team by making surprise visits to the weight room, just to check on his players.

The best part, Burton said, is that the new coaching staff has given the players a positive new outlook without changing the intensity and passion instilled in the program by Mangino.

Building Relationships

The most important changes being made to the team, all three players said, is Gill’s increased emphasis on building warm personal relationships. Johnson said that Gill’s office door is always open, and that every player has his cell phone number to use in any situation.

Kalish said that special teams coach Aaron Stamn texts him regularly and keeps a close eye on his grades. Burton said that Reggie Mitchell , the running backs coach, has taken all the backs out to dinner together, and opened his home to them on holidays when they cannot make the trip home.

“We are a Jayhawk football family,” Burton said. He, Johnson, and Kalish all said that the entire coaching staff is genuinely concerned with the well-being and personal growth of every player—a feeling not as evident in the past.

Gill’s superiors have noticed the changes, too. “Success on the field is in no small part dependent upon building a team of quality student-athletes who know how to represent themselves and the University of Kansas,” Marchiony said. “No one understands that better than Coach Gill.”

A New Beginning

Fans will soon get to witness these changes on the gridiron. Spring practice begins Saturday, March 26, the annual spring game will kick off on Saturday, April 24 at 1 p.m.,  and the Jayhawks will open the 2010  season on Sept. 4 against North Dakota State.

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