LAWRENCE — Last week, Carl Torbush was out selling recruits on the merits of a college education and football career at Mississippi State. This week, after being hired as Kansas' defensive coordinator, he had to immediately put on a new hat and begin pitching the Jayhawks.
Torbush, a veteran of the coaching game, knew what pitfalls could lie ahead.
"I think the biggest thing is you need to make sure you talk really slow," Torbush said, "because if you're not careful, all of a sudden you say the University of... and you may be trying to backpedal out of that. Quite honestly, the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is learning more about the University of Kansas."
Torbush will be joining a group of KU recruits on campus this weekend, and he admits that he needs the bus tour and talks from people in academics as much as the players will. As of now with recruits, Torbush has had to focus mostly on new KU head coach Turner Gill, which doesn't appear to be a problem for him.
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"Once they get on campus, they're gonna fall in love with Turner Gill," Torbush said. "I will promise you. If I've got a son, I would want him playing for Turner Gill. That's how strongly I feel about him. There's been certain places at certain times, you wouldn't be able to say that. There's no question Turner Gill will give us the opportunity to get into just about every young man's home."
Torbush, who knew Gill as a player at Nebraska and through some former players who coached under Gill at Buffalo, was asked why he feels so strongly about Gill.
"Because of morals, values," Torbush said.
Torbush said that Gill had been in touch with him about being his defensive coordinator when Gill was involved with openings in the past. They see eye-to-eye about defenses being "multiple," which means that a unit can play several schemes depending on injuries and other circumstances. Gill said the Jayhawks would work out of a base 4-3 defense, and Torbush said they could operate out of a 50 front (a version of the 3-4), a bear front (used to stop run-heavy offenses) and a 3-3 stack (a version of the nickel).
Torbush said he doesn't know much about his returning personnel at Kansas. The priority for now is finishing off the recruiting class begun by Mark Mangino's staff.
Torbush, 58, said he has ties in Texas from his years as an assistant coach and head coach at Louisiana Tech and as an assistant at Texas A&M. But his most comfortable recruiting zone is truly the Southeast after stints as an assistant coach and head coach at North Carolina and as an assistant at Mississippi, Alabama and Mississippi State. Torbush is a Tennessee native, and he'd advise Gill to not send him north of the Mason-Dixon line.
"I have to get an interpreter when I go up north," Torbush said in his thick Southern drawl, "but other than that I'm in pretty good shape."
Torbush won't hesitate to talk Turner Gill with recruits as he learns more about his new school.
"Anybody who's ever been around him, there's no fake about him," Torbush said. "He's the type of man I want to be around each day of my life."