Turner Gill Named Head Football Coach at UB

Long-time Nebraska assistant becomes 23rd coach in Buffalo's football history

By Paul Vecchio

Release Date: December 16, 2005 This content is archived.


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Former Nebraska quarterback and assistant coach Turner Gill is UB's new football coach.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Turner Gill, who was part of three national championships as a coach at the University of Nebraska and a Heisman Trophy finalist as a player, agreed to a five-year contract to become the 23rd head football coach at the University at Buffalo today. Financial terms, by university policy, were not disclosed.

Gill, 43, who spent this year serving as player development director and offensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers, also was lauded as one of the nation's top recruiters while an assistant coach at Nebraska from 1992-2004. The Cornhuskers won national titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 during that span.

Gill, who was selected following a national search, will join the UB staff officially on Jan. 3.

"I am extremely excited to be able to bring a person of Turner's caliber -- not only as a coach but as a person -- to the University at Buffalo," said Warde Manuel, UB's director of athletics. "He is a man of great integrity, he has a tremendous football pedigree and is a proven winner. Turner has all the tools necessary to bring great pride to our football program in the future, and I can't wait to get started with what I think will be a very exciting chapter in Bulls' football history."

UB President John B. Simpson said that "from my conversations with Turner Gill, and from what I know of his impressive experience and proven leadership, it's clear to me that he is an individual who understands at a deep level what excellence is -- and understands what it will take to achieve it, both on and off the field."

Simpson said the fact that Gill will head up the university's football program "is great news for UB, marking not just an important step forward in our continuing work to build a strong, competitive athletic program, but also a key outcome of our university-wide commitment to institutional excellence."

During his tenure at Nebraska, Gill served as an assistant coach for College Football Hall of Famer Tom Osborne, current Ohio University head coach Frank Solich and current Nebraska mentor Bill Callahan. He tutored the Huskers' quarterbacks from 1992-2002, was named assistant head football coach in 2003 and served as wide receivers coach in 2004.

"I am honored and privileged to be a part of a great team with President John Simpson and Warde Manuel," said Gill. "They are tremendous people and I know the University at Buffalo has great leadership with them in place. I sincerely thank both of them for giving me this opportunity.

"When I talked to people about Warde, they had nothing but high regard for him as a person and as an athletic director," said Gill. "He has created an excitement on campus and in the community. I want to be a part of this special time at this institution. Warde has that drive and determination that brings out excellence in other people. Our football staff will help him to deliver that excitement to Western New York, the rest of New York State and hopefully, the rest of the country."

In speaking about his expectations for his team, Gill said: "We are going to be a team where each person believes in himself, his teammates, his coaches and the people of this institution. We will be a family that will dedicate ourselves to excellence, balance and growth. It is one of our main goals to make sure that these young men truly enjoy the college football experience.

"It is our intention to build a team that will be physical and attacking on both sides of the ball, as well as on special teams. Not only will the experience be great for the players, but we will entertain the students and the fans as well," said Gill.

During the height of Nebraska football in the 1990s, with Gill serving as quarterbacks coach, the Cornhuskers had unprecedented success at both the quarterback position and as a team. Gill -- rated one of the top 10 recruiters in the nation in 2000 and 2001 by ESPN.com -- played a vital role in Nebraska's three national titles, and mentored a string of record-breaking quarterbacks, from Tommie Frazier to Jamaal Lord to 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.

Crouch, Frazier and Lord rank as the top three total career offense leaders in Nebraska history (while Gill, himself, ranks eighth). Crouch won the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Award (top player in the nation) and the Davey O'Brien Award (nation's top quarterback) as well as being a first-team All-American in 2001 under Gill's tutelage.

Frazier was also a first-team All-American, Johnny Unitas Award winner and Heisman Trophy finalist in 1995, and led Nebraska to its first-ever national title and back-to-back national championships (1994-95). Both Fraizer and Crouch were tabbed as Big 12 Offensive Players of the Year. Gill also mentored a pair of Big 12 Conference Offensive Newcomers of the Year in Frazier and Scott Frost (1996).

In 2002, he was nominated and among the finalists for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the nation. He was regarded by several sources as one of the top recruiters in the nation.

"Turner is an outstanding human being," said former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. "He has great character. He's a great family man, an excellent recruiter, he relates well to his players and he really works well with people. He'll always represent the program well. He is very knowledgeable as far as football goes. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for him."

This past year, Gill has moved from one of college football's most storied programs to the Green Bay Packers, one of the most tradition-rich teams in the National Football League. In his role with the Packers, Gill acts as the direct liaison to players and their families as the player development director. He also serves as an offensive assistant, with a focus on wide receivers. He began his coaching career at Southern Methodist University as receivers coach in 1991.

Gill's outstanding coaching career mirrors a memorable playing career that led him to being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 1983 (finishing fourth behind teammate Mike Rozier) and earning a berth on the All-Decade Big Eight team (1980-89) as the starting quarterback.

Gill, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, was the starting quarterback at Nebraska from 1981-83 and led the team to a No. 2 and No. 3 national ranking. Overall, Nebraska teams had a 28-2 overall record with Gill as the starting quarterback and a 20-0 record in Big Eight conference play. He spent two seasons as quarterback of the Montreal Concordes of the Canadian Football League, leading his team to playoff berths in 1984 and 1985.

One of the most respected student-athletes in Nebraska athletics history, Gill earned the Tom Novak Award for Outstanding Leadership and Character as well as the Herbert Marshall Award for leadership. He was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, was a three-time All Big Eight selection and was the MVP of the Orange Bowl and Kickoff Classic. A multi-talented athlete, Gill also spent three seasons in the minor league systems of the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians.

Gill also has served as a spokesperson for the United Way and as honorary chairman for Cystic Fibrosis, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. He is a also a board member of the Lincoln (Neb.) Children's Museum.

He and his wife Gayle have two daughters, Jordan, 15, and Margaux, 11.