"It's a great day to be a Jayhawk"

While driving his car to pick up new Kansas football coach Turner Gill for his introductory press conference this morning, KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins heard the 1960 hit song, "This Magic Moment," by The Drifters.

A 1960s music buff, Perkins couldn't help but get emotional and excited.

"I started thinking this is a magic moment for the University of Kansas," Perkins said. "It's a magic moment for our football team."

Indeed, it is.

At 11 a.m., in a packed, SRO crowd at Mrkonic Auditorium in the Anderson Family Football Complex — with countless cameras flashing one by one — Perkins ushered in the Turner Gill era at Kansas.

Gill, the former Nebraska star quarterback (1981-83) and Heisman Trophy finalist, comes to Kansas after resurrecting the University of Buffalo program the last four years as head coach, leading the once moribund Bulls to a conference championship and the school's first bowl appearance in 2008. He earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in both 2007 and 2008, and was a finalist for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year award in 2008.

"Obviously, the outcome is something I'm extremely pleased about," Perkins said about the coaching search to replace Mark Mangino, who resigned on Dec. 3.

Perkins, who presented his new coach with a Jayhawk jersey with his last name on the back with the No. 1, said Gill was the first person he talked to about the job opening and the only person whom he offered the job.

"I really believe in the heart of all my heart that there is no question we found the person who we needed to coach our football team at this particular time," Perkins said. "I've known Turner for a while, and one of the things that I've heard talking to other people is not only how positive he is, but how competitive he is. He fit the mold. ... At the end of the day, he wanted to be at Kansas. That was as important as anything to me; he wanted to be here for a long period of time. There are just so many pieces to the puzzle that he fit."

During this 40-minute press conference, Perkins and Gill hit all the right notes. The new KU coach impressed everyone in the room, including former Jayhawk greats John Hadl and Gale Sayers, with his dignity, character, and his great respect for Kansas football and the rich KU athletics tradition.

"It's a great day to be a Jayhawk," said Gill, who thanked Perkins and KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little for giving him and his family this opportunity "to be here in an outstanding university. It's an honor and a privilege, and we don't take that very lightly."

Stating "I stand in history," Gill rattled off names of KU greats from yesteryear like Hadl, Sayers, James Naismith, Jim Ryun, John Riggins, Lynette Woodard and most recent superstar Todd Reesing, who just completed his storied quarterback career.

"(There's) outstanding history and phenomenal tradition at KU," Gill said. "Our purpose is to bring this football program to a point where we're going to sustain a winning football tradition year after year."

Gill will carry on the family tradition at KU, where his daughter Jordan is a sophomore at Mount Oread and works for the Athletics Department in the Williams Educational Fund. Gill said he's visited Lawrence four to five times, and is greatly impressed with what KU and Lawrence have to offer at "one of the most beautiful campuses in the country" where "students are passionate about athletics."

Gill said he's followed Kansas football for years.

"That's always been on my radar screen so to speak that if Kansas ever came with an opportunity for me to interview for, I'd be very, very excited," Gill said. "I think it even came even more exciting for me (with) my daughter coming here to school. ... Just being on campus and walking around. I felt a sense of unity through the community. I've always had a pretty good passion about KU. It's a special place."

Gill said he will assemble a staff that's "second to none." He's already hired two former head coaches with  offensive coordinator Chuck Long (who was at the press conference) and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, as well as special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Aaron Stamm, who coached under Gill the past four years at Buffalo. Gill added he'll interview a couple of the existing KU coaches as well.

The Fort Worth, Texas, native added that his first priority will be to establish a connection and relationships with the current Jayhawks. Other top priorities will be to "recruit, beat Missouri, recruit, win the (Big 12) North, and as we all now, in most cases if you win the North, you're playing for a national championship. And then we're going to recruit."

Perkins believes Gill will be a top-flight recruiter.

"I'm confident about everybody I've talked to throughout the country that Turner Gill can go to any home and have the opportunity to recruit any player in the country," Perkins said. "I really, really believe that."

Recruiting-wise, Gill will pursue high-character players who are "passionate about wanting to be a part of one of the greatest universities ever."

He expects his players to aspire to become champions — on and off the field.

On the gridiron, "we're going to run some spread offense, but we're also going to incorporate a fullback into the game and do some two-backs occasionally," Gill said. "We're going to do some of the same things you've seen here, but we're also going to do some things differently. Defensively, we'll have a four-three scheme, we're going to be an attacking defense and we're going to cause turnovers. We're going to create great field position."

Off the field, Gill expects his players to get their degree and "reach their full potential as a man, as a student and obviously as a football player."

"We have to believe in each other and talk about trust and faith," Gill added. "We have to be able to empower people through encouragement. That's what I want the players to do. I want to teach them how to learn and continue to press on towards their goals academically, athletically and also with reaching out to the community and continuing to build relationships with whomever they come in contact with. I want them to know how to influence by being a positive role model. I want them to be able to expect great effort all the time out of the coaching staff, out of their teammates and everyone that's associated with this university and this community."

Gill's words were inspiring, so much so that former KU football player and Jayhawk Radio Network analyst David Lawrence said on "Rock Chalk Sports Talk" that Gill's press conference was the most impressive presser he's ever been a part of.

Lawrence and the rest of the media can look forward to many more Gill press conferences for years to come.

"I've been asked if I'm taking this job as a way to get to another program. The answer to that is a very decisive no," Gill said. "I did not come here to use it as a stepping stone to a football dynasty, but rather to create a football dynasty here at KU.

Gill then repeated those magical words that his daughter Jordan's been saying to him, the ones that keep echoing in his mind as he embarks on a new life and career in Lawrence.

"Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU!"

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