LAWRENCE — Having lost eight straight football games, the Kansas Jayhawks need every edge they can get going into Saturday's trip to Texas A&M.
And they just might find something to their advantage in the fact head coach Turner Gill spent the 2005 season on Aggies coach Mike Sherman's staff when Sherman was coach of the Green Bay Packers.
So Gill has some insight in Sherman's West Coast offense, the kind of plays he likes to run in certain situations and the things he looks at when coming up with a game plan.
"It works both ways," Gill said on Tuesday. "It becomes a guessing game. He knows what I know, and I know what he knows... you may get a few little audible checks that I may know. But he knows that I know, so they may change it."
Gill originally interviewed for the job as Packers' wide receivers coach, but the job went to James Franklin, the current Vanderbilt coach. But the Packers hired Gill as the club's director of player development, and he also assisted Franklin with the wide receivers, who were catching passes from Brett Favre.
The player development job called for Gill to help rookies and second-year players make the transition from college football to the NFL. And the Packers' first-round draft pick that year was none other than quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers, who served as Favre's understudy for three seasons, is now the NFL's marquee player having led the Packers to a Super Bowl championship last year and to a 9-0 start this season.
"He could really throw the ball," Gill, a former college quarterback, said of Rodgers. "You could see that."
Gill left Green Bay after one year to become coach at the University of Buffalo, but Sherman — who was dismissed by the Packers after that 2005 season — made an impact on him.
"He taught me a lot about organization," Gill said. "Obviously I learned a lot from Tom Osborne... but Mike Sherman was very organized in the way he presented things, the way he went about things in the Xs and Os of offensive football, so I got a chance to really zero in on that if I had the opportunity to be a head football coach.
"I was always down in the locker room, hanging out with the guys and trying to make sure everything was OK and was a liaison between the players and coaches.... I was involved with the Xs and Os and helped the guys transition to that.
Spending a year in the NFL was an eye-opener for Gill, who had spent 18 years as a player and assistant at Nebraska.
"On the outside looking in, you never know what's inside (an NFL team)," Gill said. "The great thing I learned from there was those guys were really, really tight. They worked hard, and they all had their own personalities. The Green Bay Packers were a close-knit group... Favre was the practical joker.... They taught me a lot about football, and taught me how hard they worked in the offseason, too."
While Gill's team has not won a game in more than two months, he won't get much sympathy from Sherman, whose Aggies (5-5) are coming off a 53-50 overtime loss to Kansas State and have lost four games by a total of 14 points.
Gill has another relationship at Texas A&M who may not be on his side on Saturday. His younger sister, Jackie is a graduate of Texas A&M. "We'll see what side of the fence she's going to be on... ," Gill said.