While Thursday turned out to be another quiet day for Kansas University’s search to find a head football coach, plenty of moves that might impact what happens at KU unfolded across the country.
The action was slow and steady for most of the day, but, by the time the sun set, Texas A&M had an opening, Arizona State was refuting reports of an offer to Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, 47, and KU target Larry Fedora, 49, of Southern Miss, had a little more on his plate than he did when he woke up.
Fedora’s situation is by far the most interesting for Kansas. Although the College Station, Texas, native seemed destined to become a top candidate at A&M, which fired Mike Sherman on Thursday, reports from the Dallas Morning News indicated that sources listed Sumlin, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, 35, and Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, 51, as the three lead candidates at A&M.
Fedora, who also is drawing interest from Ole Miss, still seems to be in the mix for Texas A&M, but is not without serious competition. That could clear the way for him to climb higher on Kansas’ wish list and increases the odds of Fedora coming to Lawrence, should the Jayhawks be interested.
KU, which saw Mike Leach, 50, snatched out from under its nose by Washington State on Wednesday, actually seems to have a longer list of viable candidates today than it did 24 hours ago.
Former Colorado and Northwestern head coach Gary Barnett, 65, said on a Kansas City sports talk radio show Thursday morning that he was interested in the Kansas job. South Florida’s Skip Holtz, 47, a KU candidate in 2009 and the son of legendary Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, also may be drawing interest. And recently fired Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, 54, reportedly has told some people that he, too, is interested in KU.
These well-known names merely add star-power to KU’s growing list, which also might include Mark Stoops, 44, (Florida State defensive coordinator), Dave Doeren, 39, (Northern Illinois), Sonny Dykes, 42, (Louisiana Tech), Dave Christensen, 50, (Wyoming) and Brent Venables, 40, (Oklahoma defensive coordinator), among others.
While the salaries of KU’s likely targets range anywhere from $370,000 to $2 million per year, KU appears to be ready and willing to pay whatever it takes.
“Money will not be a barrier to attracting the right coach,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. “I’m confident that KU will offer an appropriate salary to attract the quality of coach that we need.”
According to a USA Today database for coaching salaries, Holtz makes $1.7 million at USF and Fedora makes $685,000 at USM.
Nutt made $2.75 million at Mississippi this year, Doeren makes $371,000 at NIU, Dykes makes $450,000 at La. Tech and Christensen makes $843,000 at Wyoming. Salaries for current assistant coaches were not available.
During the past two seasons, KU paid former head coach Turner Gill $2 million per season, and, before that, former KU coach Mark Mangino increased his worth at KU to $2.3 million per year.
As for how high KU would go, a lot of that depends on the resume, experience and current salary of whichever man becomes KU’s next coach.
“That will be something that Sheahon and the chancellor (Bernadette Gray-Little) will decide,” Marchiony said.