So far this season the performance of the Kansas football team has been impossible to figure out.
The Jayhawks were embarrassed in their home opener, losing 6-3 to North Dakota State. The next week they upset 15th-ranked Georgia Tech 28-25 but then followed with a disorganized, nationally-televised 31-16 loss to Southern Mississippi.
In the team’s latest defeat against the Southern Miss, the Jayhawks were a disaster on offense because of communication problems between sideline play-callers and quarterback Jordan Webb.
J. Brady McCollough of the KANSAS CITY STAR noted of the game:
When KU got the ball in the final minutes trailing 31-16, it had no timeouts to aid a comeback attempt. In general, the Jayhawks didn’t play with the same fast pace they used in the win over Georgia Tech because the coaches, sideline signal givers and players couldn’t carry the same tune.
Ironic when you consider the seemingly draconian - at least by today’s standards - measures Gill has taken all season to promote interaction between team members before games.
Jesse Newell of the LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD reports today that Gill has banned players from not only using cellphones on game days, but the day before kickoff . When the team plays on a Saturday, players turn in their phones to KU coaches on Friday morning. They get them back after the game.
Then there’s Gill’s encroachment into the social lives of Jayhawk players.
Also in the players’ manual is a rule that states that KU’s players cannot be with girls past 10 p.m. on any night. McDougald said that meant either having a girl over or being at her house.
Though Gill told the players that the rule was difficult to enforce, he explained the penalty would be more severe if a KU player was involved with an incident and it was discovered that the player had broken the policy.
Player reaction to Gill’s policies haven’t exactly been overwhelmingly positive. Veteran KU receiver Daymond Patterson said, “I think everybody was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it without my cell phone. I think everybody was just kind of in shock, because we hadn’t had anything like that here in the past years.”
Mark Mangino, who led an astonishing revival of the Jayhawk football program, until he was unceremoniously fired by now-ousted athletic director Lew Perkins, did not have such restrictions on players the previous eight seasons in Lawrence.
“We don’t talk to players about who their girlfriend should be, what they should look like, all that. I’m telling you, our coaches aren’t sitting up here until 10:30, 11 o’ clock at night worried about our players’ girlfriends.”
Jayhawk player Lubbock Smith also noted at the time, “I don’t listen to my girlfriend when it comes to football. I listen to my coaches.”
The funny thing about Gill’s phone ban is that he has no such embargo on computers, so players can while away their time on laptops - communicating every bit as readily as they do on cellphone. Including in the locker room.
While there’s nothing wrong with Gill installing a curfew for player social activities and instituting what is largely a symbolic ban on cellphones to promote team unity, the moves might not go over too well with recruits.
And so far KU’s results on the field give no indication that policing the data plans of players is of much use.