Kansas DC Carl Torbush retires

Preparing for a battle with cancer, Kansas defensive coordinator Carl Torbush announced his retirement from football Tuesday. The veteran coach, who prowled sidelines in five different decades, remains optimistic when looking into the future.

In recent weeks, Carl Torbush has had to face down some pretty heavy stuff.

Diagnosed with what he described as "low grade prostate cancer," the first-year Kansas defensive coordinator began to contemplate his future. He thought about football, and his quality of life. He talked things over with his wife, Janet. As a man of faith, he prayed.

And when he'd at last come to a decision on what he was going to do, he still had one thing left to do.

He had to tell Turner Gill he was leaving, and that may have been the toughest task of all.

"It was kind of like getting ready to go into the principal's office," Torbush said, Tuesday afternoon. "I really didn't want to go in there, but I had to breathe deep and go in there, and do what I needed to do."

Gill understood, of course. After recovering from the initial shock, the Jayhawks head coach was concerned only about his friend's health.

Indeed, his respect for Torbush runs deeper than most probably realize. If the opportunity to be a head coach at a BCS program ever arose, Gill knew one of the first calls he would make would be to the veteran defensive coordinator.

"He was definitely the top guy as I tried to put together a staff," Gill explained. "A guy who has been a great friend of mine, he's been a great mentor, really a spiritual person for me. And he's been a great person for football, for college football, and he's been great here for the University of Kansas."

The Kansas defense struggled in Torbush's only year at the helm. Plagued by injuries and a lack of depth all over the field, the Jayhawks ranked last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, 11th in both rush and pass defense, and ninth in total defense.

There were glimpses of a brighter future ahead, however. A Week 2 victory over then-No. 15 Georgia Tech in Lawrence, Kan. saw the defense execute the gameplan almost to perfection against the unconventional option attack, causing turnovers and hammering Yellow Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt all game long.

A strong late-season performance against the high-octane rushing attack of the Nebraska Cornhuskers was another bright spot, as was the first half against Oklahoma State - arguably the top offense in the country - before the unit simply ran out of gas.

At the presser, Gill announced the promotion of cornerbacks coach Vic Shealy to defensive coordinator, while defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt will assume duties as co-coordinator.

While they'll need to hire a new linebackers coach - a void which Gill hoped to fill by the end of the week - Torbush emphatically stated his belief that the program was heading in the right direction.

"There's no doubt, athletically, we're better now than we were last year," he said. "And that's not to take anything away from what we were last year. I thought we had a lot of guys that gave everything they had. We just didn't have as much depth as you would like."

"He's prepared those guys to be able to take over things," Gill added, of Shealy and Wyatt. "And move in the right direction for our football program to be able to win championships."

While the decision to at last part ways with the sport was extremely difficult, Torbush is able to do so on his own terms, with his head high and - most importantly - the outlook promising for his future.

"I think I'm through," he said, of the finality of his decision. "If I were going to stay in football I would stay right here with this program and (Gill)."

Torbush will undergo cancer treatment in Lawrence. Once a clean bill of health is obtained, hopefully within three to four months, he and Janet will move back home to Tennessee.

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