Kansas Coaches Comment On Big 12 Commitment

June 15, 2010

Coaches Self and Gill Discuss the Big 12 Conference

Kansas coaches Turner Gill, Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson commented on the 10 schools committed to remaining in the Big 12 Conference Tuesday.

Kansas Head Football Coach Turner Gill

On recruiting in Texas:

“Great opportunity for parents to see their son play, for example two to three times for sure per year. You talk about their whole career and it multiplies…. It is a great opportunity for people in Texas to see their son and not have to travel a whole lot.”

On excitement of getting to stay in the Big 12:

“It is exciting and continues to be exciting. It has helped our revenue for the University of Kansas and every school in the Big 12. It will give us more exposure. I think it has definitely gotten more competitive. It was already a competitive league and because of the competitiveness of the plan – nine games in the conference and playing everybody each year – I think it brings more excitement for Big 12 football, with every team included. I am excited about it. I think it is a great opportunity. The one situation may not have looked very good, but now it looks like it is outstanding, which it is. I don’t know if you could draw it up like they did as far as losing two universities and you still have the opportunity to almost double your revenue and then still have a strong exposure in your league. I don’t think you could draw it up any better. Great for the Commissioner and all of the presidents and all of the AD’s and all of the other people who combined to put this together. They did a great job and we are all grateful for that.”

How does it affect the conference in football losing Nebraska:

“I guess we will find out. We won’t know until we go through this the next couple of years. They are a national exposure-caliber program. I think there are some other things that are going to occur here that will help us in the long term. Only time will tell. I really believe that overall, looking at things, it will help our whole conference short term and long term. Whatever the plusses and minuses that have occurred, overall there are a lot more plusses.”

Are there issues with any hurt feelings due to the changes in the conference:

“From myself as a football coach I almost think of it in the sense like we are preparing for a game during the season. Our best interest is looking out for the University of Kansas. We have to be able to adjust and be able to move on. I told our staff we know we were are going to be coaching. We know we are going to be playing football and we have to prepare ourselves for that. There were some things that happened, but then you move on and move forward. It is the same thing that we teach our student-athletes. It is the same thing I teach my own kids at home. You have to be able to adjust. If you are not able to adjust in life, to be able to adjust to things that come and go through your life, it is going to be difficult. I have respect for those teams, as far as Colorado and Nebraska, they had to do what they had to do. They have to do what is in their best interest and we are all looking out for our best interests and we have to move forward.”

On the quickness of the conference breakup and decision to stay together:

“It is kind of how our society is going. A lot of people have lost jobs and different things have happened. It just now hit sports, football, college football, college basketball, athletics, the college front. We all know that people have to look and adjust and things happen. If something gets thrown in front of you, you have to listen. It doesn’t bother anybody to listen to what is going on. You have to decipher out what is the long term and the short term, but more importantly the long term. I am grateful for the guys and people who all took the time out to really sit down and stop and evaluate it all. Took the time through the days and nights vs. just jumping to the conclusion of what it might look like. They really analyzed it. The leadership came to the forefront. How do you react when there is adversity? I think all the people in the Big 12, particularly the 10 schools, eventually got on phone calls and sat down and started talking and dialoging what was taking place. I commend all of them from that standpoint. I think because of what has occurred has caused the Big 12 to be stronger today. If you don’t bring up some of the negative things that had happened in the past and all these things that have occurred, we would not have crossed some of these things that happened. I really believe that as far as the chancellors, ADs, commissioner and the Big 12, we are more solid today than we were three weeks ago.”

Kansas Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self

On the Big 12 staying together:

“I think we are better off than we have ever been. That’s not taking anything away from Nebraska and Colorado, but we are a true league now. How many teams in the country get a chance to play for a true championship in the BCS? I guess the Pac-10 would be the only one since they are the only league that plays everybody. From my vantage point in basketball, this is the old Big Eight. This is the old ACC. This is the old Big Ten before they went to the 11. This will certainly enhance our recruiting efforts in Texas, which is so important. It’s going to enhance the revenue to allow our student-athletes more opportunities while they are here. I think it is going to create more excitement among fans, without exception, because we are able to stay regional and we will be really getting into the rivalries because we will be playing twice a year as opposed to once a year, at least in basketball.”

On how it enhances recruiting:

From my vantage point, I get to sell every kid in Texas that he is going home four times a year. And I think coach (Gill) would probably agree with that.”

“Texas for men’s basketball has been a state that we’ve dabbled in and have had some success, but there are so many athletes and it is such a highly populated area, we’ll have more of a presence down there without question now. Kansas is still going to be a national program to recruit from. We don’t have a league member from Newark or New York or Seattle or San Diego or Melbourne, but you know what, the Darrell Arthur’s and those type of players that are in Texas that we are able to attract. I think they will be more excited to talk to us, knowing that they are going to play Baylor, Texas Tech, (Texas) A&M and Texas every year in their home state.”

On the conference being stronger:

“I do like it because I think it will make us better and more hardened. In our league, if we were ranked the number one RPI league in the country last year – I looked it up and we had five teams in the top 19 RPI, seven in the top 40 – our conference RPI strength just immediately went higher. Going from 16 (conference games) to 18 games impacts your schedule and adding the six games (versus the southern Big 12 schools) we will add will obviously be highly competitive games.”

On losing Nebraska football:

“I’m not a football expert by any means and he (Turner Gill) will never call and ask for advice, ever. You (the reporter) brought up losing 84 thousand (fans at Nebraska football games) but didn’t we just pick up 84 thousand at Kyle Field? Didn’t we just pick up 84 thousand in Austin? Didn’t we just pick up 84 thousand in Norman or whatever it would be? We had an opportunity in basketball to play those schools yearly, but now we have the opportunity to play the south schools yearly in both sports. In basketball, you lose something, but look what you picked up. From what you’ve picked up, your talking about almost doubling your revenue and still get to stay locally so the student-athlete welfare will be as good as it has ever been.”

Who gets credit for the Big 12:

“A lot of credit needs to go out, not only to our commissioner, who I would think in the collegiate landscape, has just elevated himself in a very positive way, and also the presidents, and also the athletic directors that just didn’t want to go and panic and jump because they were nervous for not having a home. I think there is something to be said there was an anchor, a foundation that kept everybody together. This probably could not have been pulled off unless we had some experience in those respective positions.”

On buyouts by Nebraska and Colorado:

“One reason Lew is not here today is because those decisions are still ongoing. Anything that you hear tonight (Tuesday) will be speculation that you will actually hear tomorrow (Wednesday).”

On any ill will toward Nebraska or Colorado:

“The decision making power is not at a coaches’ level. When you have every coach to a man was hopeful that the Big 12 would stay in tact. I don’t see how we should have ill will from a fan standpoint to levels much higher than the fan or coach level.”

“Your contract is up and you have an opportunity to go to another job and somebody makes a strong pitch or a strong offer that is enticing, then why wouldn’t you listen? The bottom line the offer was presented. There was a window and those people chose to remain loyal with the remaining members of the Big 12. To me the end result speaks volumes compared to the initial thing of lets listen. I don’t believe you can blame them for listening. From my vantage point, it doesn’t mean you’ll like them from a rivalry standpoint. Doesn’t mean you cheer for them when they make a touchdown or a basket. I think there is going to be a mutual respect that is going to exist. You’ll find out as the ADs or whoever speaks tomorrow (Wednesday), this wasn’t a one-school decision. This was a compilation of everybody putting their minds together to come up with a format that really works.”

On the conference snowball or breaking up then how it came back together:

“The appearance was that it was imploding, but you had the conference commissioner saying we are going to do everything to keep it at 10. You had the coaches and ADs all campaigning to say we are going to keep it at 10. You had a lot of media speculation which led to the implosion throughout. I don’t think our commissioner ever changed his stance on what he is trying to do. The television negotiations weren’t just something that happened yesterday. That was something that was an ongoing thing but was never made public. I think it is one of those things where you have to bite your tongue because you can’t leak information. Good leadership prevailed in the whole thing and if there are problems in the future it should give fans in this area confidence to know there is good leadership.”

Kansas Women’s Basketball Coach Bonnie Henrickson

On the Big 12 Conference situation:

“Our staff and players are thrilled that the best women’s basketball conference in the country remains in tact. We would like to thank Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Athletics Director Lew Perkins and Commissioner Dan Beebe for their hard work, leadership and diligence in keeping this great league together. As we move forward, we are all confident that the Big 12 Conference will continue to become even better.”