It's interesting, at least, that Turner Gill's Kansas coaching career begins today as athletic director Lew Perkins' tenure winds down.
They will forever be linked — Perkins as the man who gave Gill his opportunity to coach big-time college football and Gill as the man who holds the fate of Perkins' KU legacy in his clipboard.
It's easy to pile on Perkins. First, he made $4.4 million in 2009, an absurd sum for a college athletic director. That salary was boosted by a retention bonus and Perkins is back to making a paltry $1 million — plus or minus the change in his desk drawer — this year, his last at Kansas.
There was also a ticket scandal that rocked KU's world and might end up sending some former athletic department personnel to the rock. Then there was what I like to call "Treadmill-gate,'' an allegation that Perkins received gym equipment in exchange for premium seating. A university review cleared Perkins.
And, finally, there's Perkins' expensive addiction to charter airplane flights, which has cost the university a pretty penny.
That Perkins is still KU's athletic director is a surprise, but he is scheduled to step down on Sept. 4, 2011 — one year from today — after collecting another bonus worth $600,000.
Love him or hate him, Perkins has done much good for Kansas, especially when it comes to bricks and mortar. Athletic facilities at KU are unrecognizable from what they looked like when Perkins took over in 2003.
But the Jayhawks' image isn't quite as aesthetically pleasing.
Which is where Gill enters the not-so-pretty picture.
He comes from Buffalo and no one knows what to expect.
Yes, Gill did some good things in his previous job, but his record was 20-30.
He's impressive on the outside, but what does Gill have going on inside that convinced Perkins he was the right guy to follow Mark Mangino?
Gill inherits a team that lost its final seven games after a 5-0 start. That team imploded on the field and off after allegations that Mangino was too harsh with his players. Eventually, it became obvious Mangino was on his way out with Perkins showing him the door.
Hiring Gill will be Perkins' one and only substantial coaching move. Gill inherits a team known more for what it has lost then what is left over.
He has a first-year quarterback, a sixth-year tailback, a receiving corps of new faces and a fractured fan base that will need to be convinced.
Gill has a reputation as a quality recruiter and already has 14 commitments in his 2011 class. He obviously has no qualms about surrounding himself with proven coaches (i.e., potential replacements) as he hired Carl Torbush as KU's defensive coordinator and picked Chuck Long to run the offense.
Torbush was coach at North Carolina from 1998-2000 and has coordinated defenses at Mississippi, Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
Long was San Diego State's coach from 2006-08; before that he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
It won't be fair to judge Gill's performance, or Perkins' hiring of Gill, this season. There are not enough proven players for Gill to get much more than a .500 season out of this bunch. If that.
The key will be to watch the development of players. How much improvement will quarterback Kale Pick, a sophomore, make from Game 1 through Game 12? Or will he ultimately lose the job to redshirt freshman Jordan Webb?
Is oft-injured senior Angus Quigley really ready to be the mainstay at tailback, or will DeShaun Sands ultimately be the guy?
Mangino slowly but surely built his program at Kansas, and by doing so reaped the rewards of new facilities and more prestige until it all came crashing down during a bizarre 2009 season.
KU football is in better shape now than it was when Mangino took over in 2002 from Terry Allen. And Mangino had only one winning season (7-5 in 2005) before a breakthrough in 2007, when the Jayhawks were 12-1 and beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Outside of that season, Mangino's record at KU was 38-47.
Can Gill do better?
Perkins obviously thinks so.
What Mangino did was create respectability, which Perkins and his minions turned into gold in the way of new facilities and a more-involved fan base.
It will be fascinating to see where KU goes from here, with an arriving coach and departing athletic director.
Gill deserves time to establish himself at a new school and in a bear of a new conference. But since the athletic director who brought him on board is embroiled in one scandal after another, it's difficult to think the new coach is going to receive a lot of TLC.
At least beating North Dakota State tonight should be easy.