Tracking the Kansas University coaching search recalls the conference realignment musical-chairs game, replete with wild swings from optimism to pessimism and right back to optimism.
It’s so fluid because it involves so many different parts, competing interests, emotion-driven changes in the market.
Mike Leach, a different case because he has lawsuits against Texas Tech and ESPN, did not cause the dominoes to tumble.
The next biggest names on the radar of coach-seekers — Larry Fedora, Charlie Strong and Kevin Sumlin — could trigger a rapid succession of hirings.
The worst-case scenario from a public-relations standpoint for Kansas: Bubba Cunningham, KU’s first choice for athletic director, entices Fedora to come to North Carolina to work for him. Cunningham is extremely familiar with Fedora’s work because they both were in Conference USA. Despite having worked as a high school coach in Texas and at as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and a position coach at Baylor, most of Fedora’s Southern Miss players were recruited from the deep South, including 11 from Florida on this year’s roster. Fedora worked as Florida’s offensive coordinator (2002-2004).
If it plays out that way, it doesn’t mean Cunningham’s a better recruiter than Zenger. It means Fedora feels he has a better chance of winning conference championships at North Carolina than at KU.
If Texas A&M wanted Kevin Sumlin before the lopsided loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game, why let one game change your thinking? Then again, A&M has been known to make emotion-charged moves.
Strong coached in the SEC as Florida’s defensive coordinator, leading some to believe that makes him a better fit than Sumlin. Yet, Sumlin has recruited the east Texas area so well through the years.
At this moment, we’re pretty much guessing, so guess we’ll do at a few schools could fill their coaching vacancies.
North Carolina: Fedora.
Texas A&M: Sumlin.
Illinois: Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.
UCLA, Arizona State? Let’s see if the first three dominoes fall. Kansas? Zenger’s cone of silence works much better than Maxwell Smart’s did. Those in the industry believe Zenger hasn’t yet turned to assistant coaches and won’t until his list of candidates with head-coaching experience has been exhausted.
Phillip Fulmer, 61, was interviewed by Kansas two years ago, but didn’t get an offer, despite making a hugely positive impression on some in the room. The guy has a personality that would market the program. Of all the coaches who appeared in Blind Side, he popped through the screen as the guy for whom I would want to play if I were 30-something years younger, eight inches taller, far more coordinated, faster and if my weight were distributed differently.
When a man who has won a national championship at Tennessee is interviewed for a less prestigious job and doesn’t get it, it would be asking a lot to expect him to interview again. If he’s not gung-ho to become the next Kansas coach, he’s not the man. If he is, Zenger might want to invite him into his cone of silence.