He turned football programs around at Murray State and Cincinnati. Now Mike Gottfried has a third challenge.
Gottfried, a 38-year-old native Ohioan, was named Kansas University's new football coach this morning.
"I talked to many people about the Kansas University job," Gottfried said at a news conference at Allen Fieldhouse, "and, to a man, everybody felt this was a great opportunity."
Gottfried, who guided Cincinnati University to back-to-back 6-5 records against tough competition, was given a five-year contract calling for a salary of $57,000.
Don Fambrough, fired on Dec. 3, was making $49,980 per year.
KANSAS ATHLETIC director Monte Johnson said Gottfried was near the top of the list ever since the search began to find Fambrough's successor.
"Our first priority," Johnson said, "was to find a coach who had been successful at the major college level and had been able to turn programs around. One of the first we talked to was Mike Gottfried."
A native of Crestline, Ohio, and a former quarterback at Morehead, Ky., State, Gottfried spent a dozen years as a high school head coach and a college assistant before securing his firs college head job in 1978 at Murray, Ky., State.
The racers were 4-7 that season, but 9-2-1 in '79 and 9-2 in '80, and Gottfried used that as a springboard to the post at Cincinnati.
Last fall, the Bearcats lost five games, but four of them were on the road to Alabama, Florida State, Miami of Florida and South Carolina - all toughies.
Gottfried said he decided last Wednesday to take the Kansas job after visiting here a week ago Saturday.
The announcement of Gottfried's decision was delayed until today, he said, because Cincinnati athletic director Mike McGee asked for some time to prepare their search for a new coach.
GOTTFRIED stressed he wasn't frightened by the checkered history of KU football and the ultimate fate of most of its head coaches.
"I'm not worried about that," he stressed. "I have a lot of confidence. I'm looking forward to the new challenge ahead. The goal of any coach is to be in a conference where you can win the national championship."
The threat of an NCAA probation against the Kansas grid program also failed to scare Gottfried off.
"I think it's an inquiry," Gottfried responded when asked about the NCAA investigation. "That's all it is. Kansas will withstand anything that happens. I believe that. the school has been here a long time.
"Nobody knows what's going to happen. I think the thing we sell here is the University of Kansas."
That brings up recruiting and obviously, Gottfried is off to a very late start.
"This is the third time I've been in this situation," he pointed out, "so I'm not worried. I know the ways we'll have to progress. I feel very comfortable we'll be able to come up with a good (recruiting) class."
GOTTFRIED says his first concern is to name a staff, something he hopes to have accomplished within 10 days.
Gottfried's five-year record as a head coach is 34-21-1. In 1981, he was named Metro Conference coach of the year as well as national rookie coach of the year by the Washington Post.
After graduating from Morehead State in 1966, Gottfried spent two years as an assistant at Roseville, Ohio, High. For the next four years, he was head coach at Norwalk, Ohio, St. Paul High.
Gottfried's first college job was at his alma mater in 1972. The next year he went back to the high school ranks for the last time as head man at Struthers, Ohio, High.
In the next four years, he served college assistantships at Youngstown State, Cincinnati and Arizona.
HE AND his wife Mickey have two daughters ages 11 and 9.
Gottfried's hiring means John Hadl, the former KU aide now with the Los Angeles Rams ahs been bypassed, ostensibly because of an alleged connection with the NCAA inquiry.
Asked in Los Angeles by the Associated Press if he was disappointed, Hadl said, "Yeah, I really am."