Black Head Coaches Have It Rough Over Weekend

Both Turner Gill and Larry Porter were fired after just two seasons on the job.

Posted: 11/28/2011 04:51 PM EST

The record number of Black head football coaches at the highest collegiate level took a hit over the weekend when Kansas fired Turner Gill and Memphis cut ties with Larry Porter.


Both coaches had been on the job for two years. Both had their struggles.


Porter, 39, returned to his alma mater and took over a struggling program, but was a combined 3-21 during his brief tenure which included 2-10 this season.


Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement. "Now that the season has been completed, I do not feel that we have seen enough improvement for the future to justify keeping this football staff in place for another year."


Gill, however, took over a program that had become competitive under the former coaching regime and his teams could not sustain the success. Gill was just 5-19 in two seasons at Kansas after performing one of the most miraculous turnaround jobs ever during his time at Buffalo.


But Gill’s Jayhawks teams just weren’t competitive in the Big 12, where he went 1-16 in two seasons. This season alone the University of Kansas lost six games by at least 30 points including a blowout loss to in-state rival Kansas State.


This was huge letdown considering Kansas stepped up considerably two years ago, giving Gill a five-year contract worth $10 million under former athletic director Lew Perkins. The school has agreed to pay him the remaining $6 million, according to the Kansas City Star.


"After a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have concluded that new leadership is necessary to place us on the path toward competing for championships in the Big 12 Conference," athletic director Sheahon Zenger said in a statement. "I come to this conclusion reluctantly, because I have the utmost respect for Turner Gill as a quality individual who wants only the best for the young men he coaches."


Gill and Porter become the second and third Black head coaches to be fired this season after Mike Locksley was fired at New Mexico earlier this season after two tumultuous seasons.


Coming into the year, it was a banner season for Black coaches with an all-time high of 13 standing on the sidelines out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.


Each school will likely face scrutiny firing its coaches so quickly. The minimum is usually at least three years to make an evaluation, while five seasons has been a more appropriate evaluation period because a coach has gone through one full recruiting class cycle.


Zenger acknowledged that his quick trigger on Gill may raise some eyebrows but said he was simply trying to save the program from long-term damage if he didn’t make an immediate change.


“If I were an outsider, and someone said, ‘Is two years enough?’, you tend to think two is a short time,” Zenger said to the Star. “But in that time period there needs to be signs of life that are greater than what we had.”

Contact Terrance Harris at or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris


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