Liberty's Gill energized by challenge

New Liberty University football coach Turner Gill already sees benefits in his position that didn’t exist at his three previous coaching jobs, including his alma mater, the University of Nebraska.

“One thing that’s stood out to me in my six, seven months on the job is the great talent in the whole state of Virginia, football talent,” Gill said Thursday morning after speaking at the Virginia High School Coaches Association clinics. “I haven’t been at a program in a state that had a wealth of high school talent that there is here. … The coaches are very, very good here, teaching their players. Also, they have the talent. That’s the first thing that jumps out.”

Gill was a head coach at Kansas and Buffalo and before that a longtime assistant at Nebraska, where he starred as a quarterback. He compiled a 25-49 record in six seasons as a head coach, but to be fair, he did so at schools with meager traditions, especially compared to their conference rivals.

He was dismissed after just two years at Kansas, but landed on his feet at a school and a job that intrigue him and that mesh with his values. He cited the leadership of school president Jerry Falwell Jr., and athletic director Jeff Barber.

“The three of us are on the same wavelength, we have the same vision and mission,” Gill said. “I think whenever you have that kind of leadership, then you’re on the right path to be successful as a football program, and as a university.”

The vision and mission that they share: “To inspire student-athletes, to glorify Christ, and to bring championships, conference and national championships, each and every year,” Gill said. “That’s our vision. It’s that simple. That’s the vision of the university, and then my vision comes on the athletic side of it.”

Gill sees a commitment to excellence from his bosses in all areas and the goal of making Liberty nationally and internationally known — no small feat for a university that’s only 41 years old.

“It’s not where it can be,” he said, “but they have the people and the resources to do that.”

Gill pointed out that Liberty’s fund-raising and economic standing continue to rise, despite a challenging economic climate. Plus, the stated aim to move the football program to the Football Bowl Subdivision appealed to him. The Flames currently are an FCS program competing in the Big South Conference.

“That was what was enticing and exciting,” he said. “Because of my experience, I thought I was the best fit for the job. Where I have been, compared to where they want to go, I thought it was a great mesh, along with the vision and mission that they have. They wanted a person to help them get to the highest level of athletics.”

Gill replaced Danny Rocco, who took the Richmond job after compiling a 47-20 overall record and 26-5 record in the Big South during his six years.

“They did a good job of bringing in talent,” Gill said. “There’s definitely some talent in place. And the fact that they won conference championships speaks for itself. But there’s some things we have to do, some work that has to be done. But we’re in a good spot, particularly in our conference, and as we try to move up to FBS.”

Copyright © 2018, CT Now