Carl Torbush Announces Retirement
Due to health reasons, Carl Torbush announced Tuesday he is retiring from the University of Kansas and college football. Torbush, who served as KU’s defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, was recently diagnosed with low grade prostate cancer. He will be having surgery in the near future and expects a full recovery.
“Coach Torbush has decided to retire as defensive coordinator of the University of Kansas football program due to health reasons,” said Kansas head coach Turner Gill. “On behalf of the entire KU family, we want to let him know that he and his family are in our prayers. Our hope for him is a successful recovery and an enjoyable retirement from football.
“Carl has truly exemplified what a football coach should be throughout his career. We want to thank him for his great spirit, knowledge of the game and loyalty to college football. He will be missed by our staff, our student-athletes, the entire KU nation and the college football family across the nation.”
Torbush was one of Gill’s first hires upon his appointment as the head coach of the Jayhawks in December of 2009. With more than 35 years in the business, Torbush arrived at Kansas after serving as a head coach at Louisiana Tech (1987) and North Carolina (1998-2000) and a defensive coordinator at Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
“I want to thank Turner Gill and the University of Kansas for the opportunity I had to work here,” Torbush said. “It is with great regret that I am retiring, but I feel in my heart after a lot of thought and prayer that this is what is best for myself and my family at this stage in my life.
“I have no doubt that Coach Gill will lead the KU program to many wins and get this team going in the direction everybody wants to see it go. I think the best statement I can make is if I had a son who was a Division I prospect, there is no question that I would want them to come to Kansas and play for Coach Gill and this coaching staff for many reasons besides just football.”
Torbush also expressed his thoughts on the leadership of the Kansas football program under Gill, Athletics Director Dr. Sheahon Zenger and KU Chancellor Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little.
“I hate that I am not going to have the opportunity to be around Dr. Zenger,” Torbush said. “I have known him a long time. He is everything you are looking for in an Athletics Director as far as the overall athletic program, and especially football, because he has done it all. I don’t have any doubt that he will do a great job at Kansas.
“Dr. Gray-Little and I go way back. I have known her a long time from our days back at the University of North Carolina. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for her. With these three people leading the way, I have no doubt that the University of Kansas football program has great, great days ahead of it.”
Gill announced that Vic Shealy will replace Torbush as defensive coordinator, while Buddy Wyatt will be promoted to co-defensive coordinator.
Coach Shealy, a former head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator at the collegiate level, joined Gill’s staff as the Jayhawk cornerbacks coach in December 2009 and is entering his second season with the program.
“Coach Shealy is a great fit for the defensive coordinator position,” Gill said. “He has had phenomenal results with developing players as well as relating with them. This will provide our student-athletes with some continuity. Coach Shealy has experienced success playing a pressure style of defense with multiple looks. He truly understands how to defend the spread offense.”
Wyatt, who coaches the KU defensive line, is also in his second season with the Jayhawks. He arrived in Lawrence after spending the previous two years at Texas A&M. Wyatt has coached in the Big 12 Conference at Oklahoma State (1996), Colorado (1999), Texas A&M (2000-02, 08-09) and Nebraska (2007). He has also coached at TCU (1991), Minnesota (1992-95), Northwestern (1997-98) and Alabama (2003-06).
“Coach Wyatt is a tremendous asset at the co-defensive coordinator position,” Gill said. “We are excited to have both he and Coach Shealy working together to lead our defense. They, along with Coach (Robert) Wimberly (safeties coach) and our new hire (linebackers coach), will continue to build a pressure-style defense designed to bring the KU nation a Big 12 championship in the upcoming seasons.”
Carl Torbush Bio
A veteran coach with more than 35 years in the college coaching business, Carl Torbush has put together defenses which have topped the league in both the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference during his career. Torbush has been a part of 11 bowl team coaching staffs. He served as head coach at North Carolina for the 1997 Gator Bowl after Mack Brown left for Texas after the regular season and then guided the Tar Heels to the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl the following season.
In addition to working with Kansas coach Turner Gill, Torbush has worked for Grant Teaff, Billy Brewer, Mack Brown, Dennis Franchione and Ken Sparks. He started his coaching career at Carter High School in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1974 before joining the staff at Baylor as a graduate assistant in 1975.
His first full-time collegiate job was as linebackers/defensive ends coach at Southeastern Louisiana from 1976-79. After three years at Louisiana Tech (1980-82), he was named the defensive coordinator at Mississippi (1983-86). In his final year, the Rebels led the SEC in total defense.
Torbush spent one season as the head coach at Louisiana Tech posting a 3-8 record before joining Brown at North Carolina in 1988. He served as the team’s defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for 10 years until Brown left for Texas and Torbush became the head coach for the next three seasons.
While an assistant at North Carolina, UNC led the ACC in defense in 1995, `96 and `97. He was named National Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 1996. In 1997 he was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Torbush then joined Franchione’s staff at Alabama in 2001 and his defense was third in the NCAA allowing just 257 yards per game in 2002. He was selected as the SEC Assistant Coach of the Year following that season. He then followed Franchione to Texas A&M and was the defensive coordinator for three seasons.
Torbush returned to his alma mater of Carson-Newman as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach. The Eagles were 25-8 in his three years, including a 10-1 mark in 2007.
Carl Torbush Retirement Press Conference
May 31, 2011
Kansas head coach Turner Gill
“It’s a difficult day today, but we have to do what we have to do. I want to start off by saying that Carl is retiring for health reasons. We’ll let him get in to that a little bit more. I also have decided that the new defensive coordinator will be Vic Shealy and Buddy Wyatt will be our co-defensive coordinator. Those two will work together. Carl was definitely a top guy when I tried to put together a staff. He is a guy who has been a great friend of mine, a great mentor and a spiritual person for me. He’s been a great person for college football and great for the University of Kansas. Even though it’s been short-term, it’s been a very important term. I appreciate what he’s all about and I know that he’s a person that is going to continue to have KU in his heart and in his mind.”
On finding out about Torbush’s condition and retirement:
“I was a little bit shocked and surprised. When you’re talking about health, you have to put all the other selfish stuff away. I was more concerned about his health and making sure that he was going to be okay. Once he got to explain what was going on, I understood that he was going to be all right from that. He’s a guy that’s not just a coaching friend, he’s a guy that I’ve gotten to know over many years. I was just so excited when the opportunity presented itself for me to become a head football coach, we had said if I ever got to become a head coach that I was going to call him up and ask him to join me. We’re going to continue to be friends and I’m going to continue to pray for him. We’ve got a great coaching staff aboard and he’s done a great job preparing these two guys (Shealy and Wyatt). You guys have always heard me talking about our staff. Even though we’re going to have to hire somebody new, we’ve got a great staff here. That’s why I’ve got confidence in what we’re doing because he’s prepared those guys to move on in the right direction for our football program to win championships.”
On if he will hire a new linebackers coach:
“That’s the plan right now. We are looking at that position and I want to make sure we get the right person. We could make another adjustment somewhere, but right now the plan is to get a linebackers coach. We would like to get something done by the end of this week, get somebody hired and ready to roll.”
Former defensive coordinator Carl Torbush
“First of all, the opportunity to be at the University of Kansas has been a great thrill for me and I don’t have any doubt that this program is in great hands with Coach Turner Gill. Just like I’ve said over a period of time, that is the reason that I came to KU originally, and I still firmly believe that after I’ve been here a year. It’s been a tough year, as far as where we are as a program and where we’re trying to get this thing. To see how he’s been able to respond in some adverse situations, I don’t have any doubt that this program is under great leadership. Then with the hiring of Sheahon Zenger, I have not been around him as much as I would have liked, but I know a lot about him because I’ve had two or three guys that I’ve coached at the University of North Carolina that have worked for him over time. I think you’ve got a great leader there. I had the great opportunity to work with Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little at the University of North Carolina, so there are three leaders there that I have no doubt will lead the University of Kansas–the football program, the athletic program and the university–in the direction it needs to go. As far as where I’m at, it’s a tough time. I’m 59 ½ years old. Seems like yesterday, you blink an eye and you’re 21, all of a sudden you’re 59 1/2 and wondering where it all went. I will say that I’m still playing baseball, so I’m pretty fortunate in that. I had a situation health-wise that got checked, and it is a low-grade prostate cancer that me and my family are going to have to deal with. I just felt like I wanted to get this cleared up. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get it cleared up, but I’ve got a strong faith and I have no doubt that it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to work out. At the same time, it got me thinking of a lot of different ways that I felt like for my future, for my family’s future and where I’m at right now, that this was a perfect time for me to back away and retire from football. I could go a long time more, but there are other things. I love football, I love this coaching staff and I love Coach Gill, but the thing that I want to do is make sure that I have a good quality of life and my family has a good quality of life. That’s the reason we are making this decision right now. It’s tough because you feel like you’re jumping out of a boat but you don’t really mean to. I have no doubt that the defense will be in great hands with Vic. I’ve known Vic a long time. He’s a tremendous football coach, has great knowledge and will be a great leader of men. I’ve been around Coach Wyatt a number of years and have followed him to a couple different programs. He’s been around some great football coaches. I don’t have any doubt that he has the ability to be a defensive coordinator. If you take those two and Robert Wimberly, our safeties coach, I’ve seen them when things were tough. I’ve seen how they’ve responded to the players, each other and the coaching staff, and I don’t have any doubt that they will do a great job for the University of Kansas. This program is not going to miss a beat. It’s just a situation right now that I feel I need to move on with my life. I will never forget my time here and I’ve got a lot of friends here. This is a great university, and I’ve been at some great universities. This is a great school academically and athletically. It’s got great tradition, great coaching staffs, great facilities and everything that needs to be here to have a chance to succeed. I feel really strongly that this program is headed in the right direction. I know the word `patience’ is not in the English vocabulary anymore, but that’s what needs to happen and I think with a couple more years of recruiting here, you’re going to start to see some good things happen.”
On where he will live while fighting his cancer battle:
“I’m going to take care of the health problems here. I feel very strongly about the people here in the medical profession. Once I get cleared, we’ll move back to Tennessee.”
On if he is ruling out any return to football:
“I think I’m through. You never say never, but if I were going to stay in football, I would stay right here with this program and this man (Gill). I’ve been around some great head coaches, but I have no doubt that this man here is exactly what you think he is. The best statement I can make is, if I had a son that was a Division I college prospect, I would want him to come to the University of Kansas and play for Turner Gill and his coaching staff. I know he would be around a man that is going to make him do things right. I think he would help him develop as a football player, as a student, as a person and spiritually. I think he’s going to do the things necessary to make him do exactly what he needs to do. That is one thing that you are not able to see, but our players understand exactly what is expected of them.”
On stepping away from football:
“I got on the internet today and told my wife that it was like I’m looking at a different guy. When you think of cancer, you think of death and I’m not dying. You think of a coach that is getting ready to leave the profession and it’s like you’re looking at somebody else, but you’re not. You’re looking at yourself. It’s a pretty tough situation.”
On how much time he took to make his decision:
“Once I got the results back and I knew it was serious, I believe a great deal in prayer. The toughest thing was going there and talking to him (Coach Gill). It was kind of like going to the principal’s office. I really didn’t want to go in there, but I had to breathe deeply and do what I needed to do. That was a tough meeting because to tell him I’m leaving had to hurt, and it hurt me to have to do it. I just feel like, at this stage of my life, that’s what I wanted to do.”
On if he had a feeling that something wasn’t right physically:
“No, you think you’re indestructible. I stay in pretty good shape; I’ve been healthy and never had very many injuries, so when the blood test said the PSA was a little bit high, we decided to get it tested. I’m just thankful that we caught it now instead of later, because later it could have been a problem. Hopefully this will be completely cleared and three or four months down the road, I hope I’m completely healthy.”
On the status of the defense:
“There is no doubt, athletically, that we’re better now than we were last year. That doesn’t take anything away from where we were last year; we had some guys that gave everything they had, we just didn’t have as much depth as you would have liked. We had guys that had to play 70-80 defensive snaps, then 25 snaps on special teams. Pretty soon you’ve got several guys that are playing 100 snaps a game and it’s like going 15 rounds in a boxing match–at some point you’re going to start to wear down. I think that’s what happened. Right now, we’ve got a lot more depth than we had before. We’re faster than we were. We’re still going to be pretty young on defense. One day after practice we told the seniors to step forward and there were only about six out of all of them that stepped forward. That’s not many seniors, but the great thing about it is that it’s going to be the same guys for several years to come. The experience the secondary got last year will help them this year. There is no question we’ve got a chance to be better at things, and there is no question that the University of Kansas is going in the right direction.”
Head Coach Turner Gill
On the process of finding the new coordinators:
“Just to fill you in on the process that I went through as soon as I got the news from Carl (Torbush). It was actually about three weeks ago when we had our conversation and he let me know what was happening. Obviously at that point in time I had to start getting in mind what I was going to do on my end; the hiring process and who. There’s no question that I didn’t leave from our staff because I knew we had people on this staff that were capable of being defensive coordinators. I kind of always had that in mind as far as when Torbush came and even with (Vic) Shealy and Buddy Wyatt if anything were to happen or if I needed to make a change that these two here (Shealy and Wyatt) would definitely be at the top of the list as far as being a defensive coordinators here. Coach Shealy will be the one that will make the final decision for anything that happens on the defensive side of the ball. These two work well together. I’ve been in their defensive meetings. I’ve seen how the players respond to them. The great thing about Coach Shealy is that he has shown me that he has experience. He also understands how to attack the spread offenses. His players have always responded in a great way in being developed in the proper way when they start here and when they have left after working with him. I also know that he’s a person that has a pressure defense. Those are the things that excited me about him. He and Coach Wyatt are very similar in those ways. We’re definitely going to be a pressure type defense and are going to do some things that are slightly different. The main thing is continuity and confidence. We really thought that was very important for us to have continuity because I thought we had made a tremendous amount of progress from about the second half of the season all the way through spring football. As a team we improved particularly on defense. As I mentioned I want our players to play fast. I want to see that on tape. I want to see that in a game. We’ve made some great progress at this particular time in those areas.”
On when and how he notified the players that Coach Torbush was departing:
“I told them this morning. I had all the coaches call them or text them. At least put them on alert as to what was going on as far as the defensive side of the ball.”
On what kind of effect the coaching change will have on recruiting:
“I don’t think it will have much effect. We always talk about our whole staff not necessarily individual guys. This whole staff is tremendous and whomever we bring in, that guy will be tremendous. I think it’s going to be just like it has been. We’re in great shape as far as where our team is and we feel good about where we’re going. I think we’re still going to have a very successful football program here moving forward.”
Defensive Coordinator Vic Shealy
On where the defense stands as he takes over as defensive coordinator:
“We’ll make sure to do whatever it takes to get it done. The process when we came in a year ago of trying to evaluate talent. Trying to take Carl’s base approach to defense and trying to fit those players structurally and philosophically into what he was wanting to do was a challenge. But from about mid-season on you began to see a shift and we began finding out what players’ strengths are and put them in those positions more often to be able to show that strength. We had a chance to go back in and look at fall tape and we came to the spring and we were able to change some things. Some areas a little bit radical. Some areas we just have got to get better at what we’re doing. Through the spring we did make some changes that made us a faster defense. Our conference is an open spread offensive conference where speed and quickness are paramount over just a girth type guy. Our training staff did a great job in the off-season. Our guys are significantly faster. On both sides of the ball we were a different football team athletically this spring. So if you take that same guy that’s more athletic and move him closer to the ball, then obviously you have guy that can be more dynamic at a position. It’s irrelevant as far as Buddy (Wyatt) or myself being here or if it’s Carl, those things will progress us forward quickly and we’ll look more athletic in the fall because of it.”
On what he has learned at other schools and how he will infuse it at KU:
“Each school gives you a different take on the game. What your recruiting niche is. Every place you go to has a recruiting niche. I think it sometimes takes some time for us to find that niche. At the Air Force Academy our niche was fairly defined as far as the academic mixed with the athletics. We found a way to be pressure oriented with guys that may not necessarily be as fast. Sometimes you just have to create how you get that done. Coach (Gill) alluded to it. We want to line up and try to create havoc. Try to create dysfunction on offense and when you are doing those things not only are you going to make plays but you’re creating that seed of doubt in your opponent. You want to create that environment where you put a quarterback in a position of conflict. We want to do some things where we can choke out the run through fast moving parts and heavy numbers. Everywhere you go you find different pieces that fit. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that one scheme works at all places. Every place you have to find what works there. Every recruiting niche is different. Right now we’re in the process of doing that and I think we’ve done that pretty quick.”
On what will be added to the defensive playbook:
“Much of what was established a year ago will stay in there. Carl has a vast knowledge. When you’ve been around as long as he has you’ll know a lot about something or a lot of things. Everyone was just searching for what fit our personnel. We will come back in and narrow some things down that stay consistent with the baseline that we started with. We’re excited to have another coach. We’re sorry to see Carl go but we’re excited about gaining another mind that will bring in fresh ideas. I think you’ll see some changes. Enevitably it’s going to happen when you get a different personality. There are many ways to skin a cat and football is no different. I would rather not get too much into the scheme stuff because we would like to have some surprises out there in that first game or two. It’ll be some nice things that we’ll advance toward.
Co-Defensive Coordinator Buddy Wyatt
On what he learned from Carl Torbush:
“(Coach Torbush) gets the most out of everybody around him. Whether it’s coaches or players and just the way he treats people. He’s up front with you. He tells exactly what he expects from you and what he wants to get done. He has experience in a lot of different defenses. He runs a lot of different split coverages and he’s knowledgeable about all of them. I think I’ve learned some of that variety from him. Some of it I agree with and some of it I may not agree with but Carl was the boss and that’s what we did. He did a good job. He’s a good football coach. It’s tough under these circumstances to be sitting up here when Carl is going through what he’s going through. He’s a good man and he’s a good football coach.”
On why he and Coach Shealy work well together:
“When Turner (Gill) put this staff together he did a great job. He started with his coordinators. We’ve got a staff full of good people from the administrative staff all the way to all the coaches. I think that Vic (Shealy) and myself sat in that foxhole together and we fought some of the same battles this year and we had to try and figure out what was the best direction to go. As we did that we talked about some different ideas and some directions we wanted to go and we’ve implanted those things in the spring. We’re very similar in our philosophy. Vic’s background is pressure and being aggressive and that’s the same background that I come from in my philosophy. I want to try and dictate what the offense has to do instead of them dictating to us what we need to do. We’re just similar and we’re all in this together. It all starts with the head man, Coach Gill and the staff that he’s put together and the type of people that we have in this program.”