Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dead man walkin'

There's no way Turner Gill can survive this loss. There's no way that Sheahon Zenger, Kansas' athletics director, can ignore the howls of frustration from alums who witnessed a second straight embarrassing defeat to in-state rival Kansas State.

Let's re-state the obvious--Gill is a good man. Gill is a fine representative for the University of Kansas, he genuinely cares about the young men that he is coaching, and there is much about him to like.

What cannot be ignored is his record at Kansas (5-14 in one and a half seasons), the points scored against his team over the past five games (287--an average of 57.4 per game) or the third quarter meltdowns against Georgia Tech (28-0), Texas Tech (21-0) and today against KSU (21-0.) He has one win against a conference opponent and that team--Colorado--is now in a different league and is 1-7 this year.

Gill's fate was sealed today right before halftime. After Kansas scored to pull within 14, with less than a minute to play, Gill and his special teams staff elected to squib the ball on the ensuing kickoff. A KSU lineman returned the ball 10 yards. That set up a long Collin Klein completion and Wildcat field goal with one second left. Halftime score: 31-14...and any Kansas momentum was quickly kaput. Predictably, to those of us who have watched this season of frustration, KSU then came out and ran back the opening kickoff for a TD. Those in Memorial Stadium then got to witness a Kansas kickoff return that featured not one but three penalties. A KU fumble turned into a Wildcat touchdown drive and the rout was on.

Is there anything keeping Zenger from making this move? Sure--$6 million as that's the amount Kansas will owe Gill if he is fired at the end of this season. It's a lot of money for any athletics program, much less the one at Kansas. But, can Zenger afford another year of this? It's hard to imagine KU winning another game this season--only the contest at Iowa State looks close to winnable. Interest in the program is in free fall, fans are disenchanted and that will hit hard at season ticket sales next year.

This is Zenger's first major coaching decision at Kansas. After today, that decision became much clearer.

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