Tuesday, December 6, 2011

KU search may look for current head coach

Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes.

Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes.


With so many potential candidates and so little information surfacing, it can be difficult to dissect the Kansas University football program’s ongoing coaching search.

As the quest to find Turner Gill’s replacement enters Day 9 and moves forward after one of its quietest days to date, it seems safe to place the remaining candidates into a few different categories.

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is off the table and Southern Miss star Larry Fedora — one of the hottest names on the planet — might not be an option for KU much longer. Fedora, whose stock soared following last weekend’s 49-28 pounding of then-No. 6 Houston in the Conference USA championship game, is rumored to be the top candidate at North Carolina, while Arizona State and Texas A&M; are also in pursuit.

With Leach signing on at Washington State and the odds of landing Fedora dwindling, KU’s options shift to a couple of other groupings — former head coaches, current head coaches and current assistant coaches.

All three groups include worthy candidates, but sources have indicated that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger may be inclined to stick to one of the key points in the criteria he outlined last week before hitting the road. If that’s the case, head coaching experience becomes key.

Many of the names kicked around as potential options for Kansas fit the criteria, with Dave Christensen (Wyoming), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), June Jones (SMU), Chris Petersen (Boise State), Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech) and Dave Doeren (Northern Illinois) all currently employed in the college ranks.

Gaining access to interview the guys who have jobs already is a little tougher than finding one’s way into a conversation with former head coaches such as Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee) and Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) or Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, who was the head coach at Boise State and Arizona State before jumping to the NFL.

The reason? Common courtesy, according to KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, who said ADs often times will ask permission to speak to a coach who is under contract with another school.

“There’s no policy,” Marchiony said. “It’s just what the athletic director feels is in the best interest of his school. Part of that is what the AD feels is in the best interest of any potential candidate, as well.”

Calls Monday, from the Journal-World to more than half a dozen athletic departments that employ coaches believed to be KU candidates, yielded little information about the depth of KU’s search. Most athletic directors either ignored inquiries about whether KU had sought permission to contact their coaches or were unavailable. The only one who was reached, Louisiana Tech’s Bruce Van de Velde, said he had no comment at this time.

While head coaching experience seems to be a major bonus for candidates interested in landing the KU job, a handful of assistant coaches could remain in the hunt should Zenger choose to go away from the guys above.

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, and perhaps even Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables each could rise into the top tier in the coming days. For now, it appears as if their lack of head coaching experience may keep them on the back burner.

As was the case Monday, a lot of what KU is able to do in its search depends on how openings at Texas A&M;, North Carolina and Arizona State are filled first.


Andy Hess 8 years, 4 months ago

I swear to Christ if we pass on Malzahn and Venables AND Fulmer for someone like that schmuck from Louisiana Tech, I am going to have a fit. I want a proven winner from a BCS conference. That's not too much to ask.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

swishy - look at your avatar.....

I'm not dogging YOU at all - it's a cool avatar. My point is Kansas is a basketball school. (dodging tomatoes now) Always has been - always will be.

I will be GREATLY surprised if we hire a coach that is considered a top flight BCS type coach. Our administration doesn't know football. It's a foreign land to them. They just want to hire someone good enough to pacify the masses until B-Ball season starts. If we can win ...say, 5 games per season - that's a huge success.

Prove me wrong SZ. Hire someone who can make a difference. You won't hurt my feelings. You'll surprise the heck out of me though.

optichawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Read my comment below... KU absolutely HAS TO have a winning Football Program!!! I love hoops but getting pushed out of a BSC conference because KU brings nothing to the football table, is not an option!

Dan Pawlowski 8 years, 4 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong but I am pretty sure SZ has a football background and is part of our administration.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

BoulderHawk - Don't misinterpret my prior post. I love KU football. I desperately want us to succeed. But 100+ years of history, with very, very few exceptions tells me not to get my hopes up come mid-August.

As far as SZ goes, I know virtually nothing about him. My PERCEPTION is that he's not nearly aggressive enough. If he were, he should have Directed Turner Gill to fire the Defensive Coordinator after about 6 games. Or fired Gill himself long before he did.

And it appears that he's dragging his feet regarding hiring a coach now. So, no, I'm not sold on him.

dylans 8 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, let's just rush into a new head coach. I'd love another 10 million dollar mistake.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Better yet - let's wait till all the viable coaches are gone and we promote the towel boy to head coach!! We can really save some big bucks then !!

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't know who you include in your "administration" comment, but Zenger certainly does know football. He also knows a lot of people who are currently involved with football. Are you talking about the Chancellor? She has been leaving it to Zenger because she is well aware of his qualifications.

shelleysue 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Or if we feel the need to bring in a small market coach, pay him a small market salary and pay an EXTREMELY attractive salary to get a great OC and DC.

johnnyhrdwd 8 years, 4 months ago

Dykes is too squirrelly, Venables has that double top secret rumor that nobody has any proof of. Would OU employ Venables as their top assistant if the super secret is true? Venables has a lot of upside, Fulmer has presence.

Roy Scherff 8 years, 4 months ago

a lot of what KU is able to do in its search depends on how openings at Texas A&M, North Carolina and Arizona State are filled first.

.What am I missing here. Why is it that KU has to wait for these other schools to fill their HC positions.

Kenny Terry 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Why Ku sit around and wait on other schools and settle for leftovers? If there is someone Zenger wants I hope he is not waiting on other schools to get their coach

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree... we all seem to have an inferiority complex and that is "killing" us. We need to do what Washington State so admirably did... take the bull by the horns and got what they wanted (Leech).

Dee Shaw 8 years, 4 months ago

If Larry Fedora is going to UNC you might want to check with Roy Williams and get his approval before hiring Fedora. We all know how Roy wants his football coach a little less seen than himself. Ego.

jayhawkinATL 8 years, 4 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that Koetter was canned by ASU.

Carter Patterson 8 years, 4 months ago

He was fired. So was Billy Martin, Phil Fulmer, and Joe Paterno. Impressive coaching record if you ask me. I'm not pitching him, but I don't think he would be a bad coach.

Kansashawk 8 years, 4 months ago

And one of those harbored a pedophile. Good one!

Andy Hess 8 years, 4 months ago

If by "harbored," you mean "didn't report the crimes to ENOUGH people," then yes he "harbored" him.

optichawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Why not Chris Peterson... Did anyone see that is less than happy to put forth all that effort only to be snubbed again because of a couple missed Kicks the past 2 years. If the guy can get it done in the middle of nowhere, then why not at a BCS School where he can make a differrence rather than an asterisk every year? Another thing to think about, this "conference realignment" issue is not over.. KU has to build its Football program into a winner or else (no matter how much of a hoops school we are). And, our facilities are on par with other Football schools. I'm not Dane Anderson but I gave my money to make this happen, hope it was spent wisely. Screw Tom Luganbil (ESPN) who said our facilities are outdated and KU is not a good place to coach.

jbro769 8 years, 4 months ago

Agree 100%, I wish we would have went after Petersen back in '09. Proven winner, consisitency, and I beleive he was the main reason for the success of Dan Hawkins. Throw everything we can at Petersen - perfect fit!

Mike Kendall 8 years, 4 months ago

Chris Peterson would be awesome! I would be all for that hire.

PJ Karasek 8 years, 4 months ago

because Boise has next to ZERO academic standards, makes the recruiting a lot easier.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 4 months ago

There is some truth to this. A lot of good players who barely got out of high school go to junior college for a couple of years. Boise has tapped into this pipeline.

Bion Ostrander 8 years, 4 months ago

"As was the case Monday, a lot of what KU is able to do in its search depends on how openings at Texas A&M, North Carolina and Arizona State are filled first."

Matt, this appears to be the whole point and problem with the KU hiring process. Why is KU waiting for these teams to fill their coaching positions "first."

While KU procrastinates and Zenger conducts his 2011 coaching tour by air, the best coaches are getting hired away by more efficient ADs who are using those new-fangled toys called cellphones and the internet to conduct their interviews before Zenger's airplane ever lands.

I have visions of Zenger's plane landing, he collects his bags, has lunch, takes care of some other matters, grabs a limo, gets lost, finally arrives at the interview only to find out the coach was hired by another school several hours ago via a cellphone/internet interview.....

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

Nobody anywhere in this article said KU is procrastinating. What the article is really saying is that the other jobs may be better and candidates are hoping to land them first. I am 100% confident that Zenger is not "waiting" on nobody. But if he really wants Larry Fedora (just to throw a name out there), but Fedora would rather have the UNC job, he has two options: 1) wait for the interest to be mutual by being patient with Fedora, or 2) move on to plan B. Do you really want him to move on to plan B without letting the Fedora hire play out? I don't. I'd rather he give it a little more time, if he really has someone he wants. That's why we have to "wait." I've seen so many posts here that act like we can just storm the castle with a giant wad of cash and hire whoever the heck we want. I'm quite sure that hasn't been an option for SZ.

Randy Glenn 8 years, 4 months ago

Mr.Zenger is a football guy with plenty experience-he WILL find the right guy and we all need to let him do his job.The Jayhawk Nation needs to put our trust in him to getr done

thomc6 8 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer ultimately could not get it done at Tennessee which has a huge football investment and tradition. Maybe he could manage a moderate upgrade at KU like Bobby Knight did at TTU, but cannot see him pullling off another Snyder. Although moderate improvement may be good enough for KU at the moment, I'd favor taking a gamble on someone else in hopes of a bigger pay off. Should not let the results of the Gill experiment force an overly conservative choice (i.e. one perceived as "safe") this go around.

Dan Harris 8 years, 4 months ago

So winning a national championship, going to 15 straight bowl games and having 1 losing season in that span isn't good enough for you?? What pray tell would be?

RockChalk26 8 years, 4 months ago

@thomc6 - We do not have a huge football investment and tradition. I would gladly take have of Fulmer's success here at Kansas.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 4 months ago

Ask Tenn how he looks in the rearview mirror. He averaged 8.94 wins per year. His two losing seasons...each with five wins. I'll take those kinds of numbers.

bjejayhawk69 8 years, 4 months ago

If Fedora goes elsewhere I agree - get Peterson. The only draw back would be his recruiting ties are more out west vs. Texas but he can obviously see talent and develop it. He would need to keep some of the staff for recruiting purposes alone. He is young too.

Just don't change our turf to blue. The only thing it would do would be to create more media coverage for KU's program - which is never a bad thing as long as it is positive.

jbro769 8 years, 4 months ago

All for the Petersen hire!!! Get it done Zenger!!! Chris Petersen announced as KU's new football HC at halftime of OSU vs KU. Now that would be awesome.

gripp42 8 years, 4 months ago

The field cant be turned blue. Boise was grandfathered in, it is now a rule that fields have to be green.

741hawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Where do you get that? Eastern Washington installed red turf just last year. I'm waiting for the first school to go black turf.

shinanigins 8 years, 4 months ago

Tier 1: 1)Fedora 2)Malzahn 3)Fullmer

Tier 2: Peterson Jones Dykes Stoops Koetter Venables

Tier 3: Calhoun Doreon Nutt Christensen

jasonb0114 8 years, 4 months ago

Peterson is going nowhere. Staying at Boise. UCLA already shot down! I think he plans to get that team to the National Championship or die trying.

RockChalk26 8 years, 4 months ago

Sign Leach already! Let's end this search ;)

RockChalk26 8 years, 4 months ago

I am living in denial. I can't come to the realization that WSU gobbled up my guy :)

dylans 8 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately at the trade school upstream.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 4 months ago

Fulmer should be our no. one guy unless Petersen is interested. Fulmer has recent enough experience that he can command a good staff. I would say Fulmer is interested so do it. Pull the trigger. Big name, yet safe choice. Probably reasonable salary as opposed to bidding war with Fedora. That, I think is somewhat of a risk. I am also thinking stability. Give us 8 to 10 years of stability and I would not be surprised if by the end of that stretch Fulmer would be averaging 8 wins a year at KU. Then, if Zenger is still here he makes the big splash hire. And Fulmer could do better than good. He could do great.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 4 months ago

I wish I could get excited about Fulmer, but I can't. I have no grounds for that, other than his three years out of coaching. It's probably something as unreliable as bad vibes.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you. Great history, but I have a red flag, but maybe he will be a good hire.

DrGraydog 8 years, 4 months ago

there are no guarantees in any of this....Fulmer would be a good choice if the Fedora thing falls thru.....nothing I have seen or read says that Fedora will be sucessful at KU. I am willing to give Fulmer a chance if he wants it.

741hawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Lugenbil was referring to the old stadium with a track inside it (and a horseshoe end zone).

wfzman 8 years, 4 months ago

I have to give Zenger credit for keeping leaks down. Everything out there sounds like guessing.

jasonb0114 8 years, 4 months ago

Why are we waiting on A&M, North Carolina, and Arizona State.....? Why don't we go get who WE want instead of waiting for the leftovers!!!!!!?

Kansashawk 8 years, 4 months ago

It would seem with the way things are going, that whoever we want is in play with other school(s). Mr AD must have strong info to not move on from whoever that someone is. So I don't think it is so much "left-overs" pick as it is someone is leveraging several offers to squeeze.

Fulmer had great assistants before. The true question is if he still has contacts to hire a new staff. Those are the guys that will be doing most of the recruiting. Age doesn't scare me, it's if he can get a good staff

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