Turner Gill: Just a coach

16 12 2009

I am sure Turner Gill would probably prefer to just be referred to as the Head Coach of the Kansas Jayhawks, and that’s it.

When Gill was announced as the new Jayhawks coach Monday, lots of attention was paid to the new recruiting power Kansas would have with Gill as the head coach. Not because he transformed a football punchline into a perennial conference contender, but because he is black.

I am sure Gill is more than proud to be one of only three black FBS coaches. But is that what he wants to be “credible” for when recruiting talent to Kansas? Of course not.

Gill was not only a Heisman candidate for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during his playing days in the 1980s, he was also the MAC Conference Coach of the Year in both 2007 and 2008.

He may have a 20-30 career record at Buffalo, but you have to account for the program he inherited. Now Buffalo is a mid-major contender thank solely to Gill. That had nothing to do with being black.

I recently attended a conference that featured the results of a focus group of minority teenagers. The most interesting thing that came out of this study was that young minorities (black, hispanic, Asian, etc.) do not want to be called “African-American,” “Hispanic-American,” “Asian-American,” and so on.

“Just call us Americans,” they said universally. They were born and raised in America, most of their parents were born and raised in America, and they just want to be seen as Americans.

This obsession with race seems to be limited to those 30+. The younger generations do not have the same “racial box” as their parents and previous generations.

So, when a coach like Turner Gill sits down on the couch of a Kansas football recruit, he should (and fully deserves) to be judged for his ability to coach football and run a winning football program. This students will most likely not be judging him based on his color, just as the young athletes would want to be taken seriously regardless of their race as well.

And who says you can’t learn something from the young kids these days?

– Mr Pressbox







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