Since the hiring of Turner Gill the Jayhawk fanbase has gone back and forth. First there were two camps, one disappointed with the Mangino firing, another excited about the Gill hiring. That gradually gave way to the reality of a new coach and the understanding that there is no sense debating a dead issue.
Then 2011 happened, perhaps more specifically North Dakota State happened. The loss and the subsequent struggles experienced during the 2011 football season were enough to turn plenty of hesitant supporters into critics and almost immediately put Turner Gill on the hot seat.
Six months later, and a few months from his second season Gill seems to have a better grasp on what he has and what he needs to do at Kansas and the fanbase seems to be working under the assumption that year two will be part of the process. Whether or not that apparent patience continues once the season begins remains to be seen but Kansas fans would be best served by the success of Turner Gill and Kansas football in general stands to gain tremendously if Gill can get the ball rolling.
If you look back over the years the problems with Kansas football have centered around support, continuity and perception. Glen Mason didn't have the support so he left for greener pastures. Terry Allen faced some of the same challenges and also significantly damaged the perception of the program. With Mangino a corner seemed to be turned and then a situation led to turnover once again and a complete lack of continuity in a program that desperately needs it.
If you look at Missouri and Kansas State, the Jayhawks two biggest rivals and programs that have enjoyed a longer tenure of success you'll find two programs and two coaches in Gary Pinkel and Bill Snyder that were allowed to work through those growing pains and the building process. What both schools and programs have been rewarded with is a respectable program and a level of continuity that allows those programs to continue to develop tradition. Obviously Kansas State has a stumble during the Ron Prince timeframe but they were still a bowl team in 2011 and Bill Snyder has brought in high level talent in the Brown brothers out of Wichita.
How this translates back to Gill is in the simple form of patience. When Carl Torbush retired a week ago he commented that patience is something that is lost these days but patience is what Kansas needs to have with Turner Gill. Regardless of what your thoughts are in terms of the product on the field in year one, it's hard to ignore the passion and energy that those around him seem to display in supporting Gill and what he's hoping to accomplish. It's that level of respect and that way of doing things that could allow Gill to change the fortunes at Kansas if given the proper chance.
Now this isn't a fairy tale and Gill might not end up turning Kansas football around just because he believes in a different approach, in fact he might fail for that same reason. But at face value a Kansas program that begins moving in the right direction under someone like Turner Gill stands to gain tremendously. Gill has a unique approach and a unique situation that could be exactly what Kansas needs to change perceptions, further increase support and most importantly provide some much needed continuity in Lawrence Kansas.