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Turner Gill is Taking the College out of College

Turner Gill was a remarkable college player and, for a brief time, a remarkable college coach. But don’t look now, he’s lost his mind.

Just two hours west on I-90, Gill achieved one of the most impressive feats of the college football decade – taking SUNY-Buffalo to a bowl game.

Seriously, let it sink in that a SUNY school was playing in the postseason while Syracuse – with its National Championship, Heisman Trophy, seven NFL Hall of Famers and Hollywood movie – sat home for the holidays.

I mean, UB plays at a facility with a track around the field. And it’s not the L.A. Coliseum. UB Stadium at 31,000 seat capacity and that track looks a lot like where your high school plays football. But with less fan interest.

So, Gill takes over UB, guides a team that had won just a single game in three of its previous four years, within three seasons to 8-6 and the International Bowl. F*ck, SU would give Otto’s left testicle for an International Bowl right now.

For his efforts, Gill is courted by a number of BCS schools including Syracuse in the winter of ’08-’09. Gill decides to wait for the right opportunity, reportedly declines Darryl Gross’ offer (yes, that’s the highlight of the Gross Era. The guy at Buffalo turned down the SU job) and stays at UB until taking the Kansas job last winter.

For the record, things haven’t gone swimmingly in Lawrence. The man who hired him, AD Lew Perkins, abruptly resigned amidst a ticket-scalping scandal. Many fans and media believe an African-American coach will not get nearly the leash he needs to succeed in a part of the country you could still refer to as “really red.”

The first game of the Gill Era was a 6-3 loss to North Dakota State. Last week the Jayhawks got blitzed 55-7 by Baylor. Yes, Baylor.

And now word leaks that Father Turner has instituted a no-cell phone policy before games and no women at all after 10p any night of the week.

Mind you, this is 2010.

Players are allowed to use their laptops, however – so Facebook, Skype and G-chat are still presumably ok. Since Gill is living out his college days of the early 80s, maybe he’s just not aware those things exist. Honestly, maybe he’s just worried that his players will be distracted by constantly plugging in their Zack Morris-phones into the trunk of the car for enough juice.

Can cell phones be distractions? Of course. People walk into moving traffic and down manholes and through police tape while texting these days. Teenagers wouldn’t notice a Michael Bay demolition set while working their iPhone.

But you don’t think college coaches – notoriously some of the snakiest, hyper-competitive people on the planet – will use this against the Jayhawks? And as for women after 10p, have you ever seen He Got Game? Jesus Shuttlesworth’s entire recruitment is a three-way orgy back at the frat house. You think 18-year-old kids, who will drink Pine Sol if it meant getting a chick’s phone number, will readily choose a place where you can’t hang out with a co-ed at 10:15p on a Wednesday night?

Gill seems like a good man and is probably just overreacting to an undisciplined program that is feeling heat following Mark Mangino’s controversial reign. But consider this bullet dodged for Orange Nation. At one time we were all disappointed Gill turned down SU. Today, we thank our lucky stars.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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