Stepping up to the podium for his first Big 12 media day, Turner Gill's reputation had largely preceded him: A player's coach, a relationship guy and someone prepared to provide a surge of positivity into a Kansas program knocked to the ground.
Among the Kansas fanbase it seems to be a bit of a generational debate. The hard-nosed, tough-guy coaching mentality of Mark Mangino versus the player-friendly, mentor approach of Gill.
Those that side with the Mangino style will point to the Glen Mason years, the success under the coach who's style falls more closely in line with Mangino and the subsequent collapse under a players coach, Terry Allen. The fear is that Gill's hope and promise brought about by Mangino's no nonsense tactics will be lost quickly, just as it was before.
Those of a younger generation mostly remember a team from a year ago that looked unmotivated, uninspired and disinterested in playing for a man that was an unapologetic disciplinarian. Those in this camp are of the belief that a change was absolutely necessary.
So which is right? The answer doesn't have to be one or the other. Absolutes are rarely where problems are resolved. During Gill's opening press conference, he spoke about relationships, developing young men and getting to know his players on a personal level. What Kansas needs that to mean is that Gill's coaching style can adapt to the individual and if need be fall somewhere in between what Mangino brought to the table and what skeptics fear in a player's coach.
With a player's coach, you have a style that may not command the same level of discipline, may give players the impression of a longer leash and in some cases the style might fail to push every player to the level of maximum effort.
This style stands in stark contrast to the Mangino philosophy of leading with an iron fist. When asked about the coaching styles, senior cornerback Chris Harris commented, "(Gill) is more of a teacher. Coach Mangino was more of 'I'm going to tell you once, and you gotta figure it out.' "
A player's coach or a staunch disciplinarian? Kansas doesn't have to choose, and Gill doesn't have to define himself as one or the other. What Kansas needs Gill to achieve is a balance. What Kansas needs from Gill is someone that can reach players on any level -- someone to use his passion for people to find the hot buttons and motivating factors in his individual players and even his staff. That is Gill's biggest asset and that's where Gill can make a difference.
After working in one extreme for the last eight seasons, a balance and a fresh approach is what is important. Gill can be a people person, a players coach or whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day it's about finding out what makes people tick. Gill talks relationships, Gill talks people, and getting the most out of each individual based on what motivates them to succeed is what Kansas needs Gill to mean.