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Big 12 notes: KU's Gill stays upbeat

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Big 12 notes: KU's Gill stays upbeat

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Turner Gill immediately got to work changing the culture at Kansas

IRVING, Texas – First-year Kansas coach Turner Gill opened Wednesday's news conference with a question of his own.

"Good morning," he said. "Everybody got their smiles on?"

If anything, Gill has developed a reputation for being constantly upbeat, which is a welcomed sign in Lawrence, where former coach Mark Mangino was forced out for verbally abusing his players and those around the program.

"We're here to challenge you," Gill said, "we're here to be demanding, we're here to raise your expectations of yourself. But we can do it in a way where you can still feel good about yourself."

Gill has even gone as far as to implement a no-cursing policy at practice.

"He's very much a father figure and a mentor for us," offensive lineman Brad Thorson said. "We're willing to go out there and lay it on the line for him."

Gill's first year at Kansas may not be easy. Along with record-setting quarterback Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks also lost standout receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier and safety Darrell Stuckey, all of whom were drafted.

Kansas' biggest strength was supposed to be its offensive line. But returning starter Jeff Spikes has already been lost for the season with a knee injury. And Thorson (foot) and Jeremiah Hatch (back) are banged up.

Taking a title

Bowl Championship Series executive director Bill Hancock said earlier this week that the BCS would vacate the 2004 national title if USC's appeal of NCAA penalties levied last month is denied.

That didn't elicit much of a reaction from Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, whose team lost 55-19 to USC in the 2004 title game. Asked if he thought the Sooners should be awarded the championship in that situation, Stoops said: "That [was] a long time ago. I'm not much for claiming anything if it didn't happen on the field."

Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who is now the coach at Texas Tech, said he believes his former team should be considered for the title if it is indeed stripped from USC. Auburn finished 13-0 in 2004 but didn't play in the BCS Championship.

Under BCS rules, if USC is stripped, there would be no champion recognized for the 2004 season.

Another interesting quote from Stoops involved conference realignment. Someone asked the coach what his thoughts were when it seemed the Sooners were headed for the Pac-10.

"Initially, disappointed," he said. "But once it seemed it was inevitable, [I was] kind of excited. Different venues, different opportunities. Playing some games out west would've been exciting. Who knows? Having a possible championship game in the Rose Bowl might have been cool. I always look at opportunities as kind of exciting."

Another Buffs QB battle

For the third straight season, Colorado's Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen are battling it out for the Buffaloes' starting quarterback job. Coach Dan Hawkins, Cody's father, said he hopes to name a starter about two weeks before the season opener.

"We're very blessed," Hawkins said. "We've got two really good kids. They really want to win and they understand the concept. On any given day you could probably split them with a razor hair."

Dan Hawkins said Hansen holds a slight edge entering August workouts.

"But it's very tough to get through a whole season with one guy anyway," he said. "There's a good chance we're going to need both of those players."

Texas stays classy

Texas coach Mack Brown said he and his players aren't bothered by the Nebraska internet video that singles out the Cornhuskers' Oct. 16 showdown against Texas as the game of the season.

"I think it's a compliment to us, very honestly," Brown said. "For a program like Nebraska to be talking about Texas at this time of year … they're good. They've gotten back. They're in the mix on the national scene."

Brown said he hates to think that Texas may never again play Nebraska after this season. The Cornhuskers are moving to the Big Ten in 2011. Brown said one of the classiest displays of sportsmanship he's ever seen came in 1998 when Cornhuskers fans began chanting "Heisman, Heisman" toward Longhorns running back Ricky Williams as he walked off the field in Lincoln.

"I've never seen teams that clap for the other team when they leave the field," Brown said. "It's just an amazing place to me.

"We got back and Coach [Darrell] Royal said, 'I wish we could get our fans to do that.' I said, 'Coach, they're booing me. I can't talk to them about not booing the fans of the other team.'"