Thursday, December 8, 2011

New day, new faces: Rumors, uncertainty abound in KU coaching search’s 11th day

A Trio of offensive coordinators — Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, left, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Dirk Koetter, middle, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, right — are believed to still be in the running for Kansas University’s head coaching position.

A Trio of offensive coordinators — Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, left, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Dirk Koetter, middle, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, right — are believed to still be in the running for Kansas University’s head coaching position.


The Kansas University football program’s search to hire a new head coach, now entering Day 11, seems to be mirroring the path of the program during the past few decades.

Names come and go, expectations rise and fall, and fans, alums and other members of the KU community are left scratching their heads and wondering what it’s all about.

Wednesday proved to be another wild day in KU’s quest to replace Turner Gill, who was fired on Nov. 27 after going 5-19 in two seasons. Like so many days before it, the craziness didn’t come from anything KU did.

Radio reports Wednesday afternoon indicated that Kansas had reached an agreement with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Message board posts containing all kinds of reactions followed, and the search was sent into a momentary frenzy. A call to a KU official around 2:30 p.m. revealed that, at that time, no hire had been made and that the reports were not accurate. Calls made again, late Wednesday night, produced the same answer.

Back to the drawing board. Back to the search.

What began 10 days ago with former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach as the top target now has taken a wild turn. Although sources and information from people who may be involved in discussions with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger have helped narrow things down — mostly through eliminating unlikely candidates — Zenger himself has not said a word about the search publicly. Signs exist that point to the new coach being in attendance at Saturday’s men’s basketball game against No. 2 Ohio State in Allen Fieldhouse. Such an introduction would figure to be a great way for the coach and fan base to become acquainted. Of course, with the way coaching searches have gone during the past 10 days, little can be counted on until the hire is officially announced.

After Leach came off the board by announcing he was headed to Washington State, the attention turned to Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, who reportedly has agreed to a deal to become the next coach at North Carolina. Although nothing was confirmed by KU, it seemed logical to conclude that Leach and Fedora were among KU’s top candidates, if not the school’s top two choices.

With those two out of the running, the search has turned into a wild goose chase of sorts. With no one at KU sharing any information about candidates, Zenger’s whereabouts or the school’s progress, speculation has run wild and all kinds of names have been thrown around.

New names continue to pop up all the time. Old ones are eliminated and then tossed back into the mix. There now are but a few logical options and a whole bunch of unknowns. One candidate, whose name gained some credibility on Wednesday, is Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Chryst, who helped put UW running back Montee Ball into the Heisman Trophy race and had UW quarterback Russell Wilson a few votes shy of joining him, reportedly has interviewed with Kansas about the job. That’s according to a source close to Chryst, who told the Wisconsin State Journal that an interview took place. Whether Chryst is a strong candidate remains to be seen, but his connections to Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who has ties to Kansas State and, therefore, Zenger, at least make that a possibility.

Former KU offensive lineman Brad Thorson spent two years (2006-07) with Chryst as a member of the Badgers before transferring to KU. Thorson said Wednesday that Chryst was a brutally honest man who was well liked by all of the Wisconsin players.

“He comes off as very laid back,” Thorson said. “But when you start to spend time around the football program, you quickly learn that he was putting in a lot more time than the rest of the coaching staff. Not to prove anything, that’s just what he loved to do.”

Thorson said Chryst’s offenses always emphasized time of possession and ball security and focused mostly on a potent ground attack.

“He was never really tempted by running the spread,” Thorson said. “His concept of playing football is he’s still fine with three yards and a cloud of dust. And he believes that that’s going to turn into the 10-, 20- and 30-yard runs.”

Though Chryst appears to be an up-and-comer, he never has run his own program and is not known as a strong recruiter. The newspaper report also indicated that Chryst interviewed recently with Illinois.

Those facts, along with continued uncertainty about the specifics of KU’s search, keep coaches such as Malzahn, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, and several others in the running to be hired.

Hatch earns All-Big 12 spot

The Big 12 Conference released its postseason honors on Wednesday, and KU, which finished the season 2-10 and 0-9 in conference play, saw six players land on the list, which was selected by the coaches.

Senior center Jeremiah Hatch was KU’s top honoree, earning a second-team nod for his solid season. Joining Hatch on the list as honorable mention selections were: senior tight end Tim Biere, sophomore punter/place-kicker Ron Doherty, senior linebacker Steven Johnson, junior safety Bradley McDougald, junior defensive end Toben Opurum, and junior offensive lineman Duane Zlatnik.

Hatch became the first Jayhawk to earn first- or second-team honors from the league’s coaches since WR Dezmon Briscoe was named to the first team and WR Kerry Meier was tabbed second team following the 2009 season.

All six Jayhawks received the honor for the first time in their careers.


okiedave 2 years, 4 months ago

Hope Weis makes us proud.

I must admit, I have concerns about a 55 year old coach who looks 65 and appears as energetic as my great-grandmother. Why do I have this nagging sense he is desk jockey and took this job to collect a few million as a last hurrah and then go into permanent retirement. I really really really hope my feeling are totally wrong, which they often are. I so hope he becomes a legend in the Jayhawk nation, but I have concerns about this hire.


Bill Anthony 2 years, 4 months ago

It is Wiess. Here is a quote from a article about it.

"Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger is hopeful that Weis' high profile will energize a fan base that had grown apathetic under Gill, who was fired after going 5-19 in just two seasons."

Sorry, I am not energized. In fact I am the opposite of energized. I was energized about the possibilities with Fulmer, or even with Sony Dykes whose team just won the WAC and played Boise State tough their last two years in the conference, and for several other possibilities, but NOT for Weis. As another poster pointed out, he couldn't win at Notre Dame where he could recruit nationally from an eager fan base. Good luck with that at Kansas.

I'm usually a pretty positive guy and willing to give the benefit of the doubt to just about anybody, but I think SZ took the slow lane to continued mediocraty. I am very disappointed and very much hoping that all my doubts are proven foolish.

Good luck Coach Weis. Go prove AD SZ to be brilliant and win like crazy.


drtommy 2 years, 4 months ago

According to ESPN Wiess is the new HC. Hope he keeps Mitchell as his recuiting coordinator


troutsee 2 years, 4 months ago

Holy cow. It is Charlie Weiss. Not sure how to take this, but I think it will turn out to be a good hire.


KanGran 2 years, 4 months ago

According to Matt Tait's post at 4:09, Weis is to be the next HC at KU.


gripp42 2 years, 4 months ago

Nick Saban it is. Papers being signed as you read.

See how unrealiable this is.


squawky 2 years, 4 months ago

Charlie Weiss it is. Papers being signed as you read.


shinanigins 2 years, 4 months ago

It will be Weis or Malzahn.... Could be both? Weis at HC Malzahn at OC

Seems to be a lot of coaches fleeing Auburn.


hihawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Zenger will do the right thing as he knows football and learned from the best Bill Snyder.


RockChalk26 2 years, 4 months ago

Oh, how bout Bill Belichick? That would be a good one.


gammimc 2 years, 4 months ago

At this point, get Fulmer if you can. He has a national championship and a 152-52 record in (at least in MHO), is the toughest football conference in the country.


Randy Bombardier 2 years, 4 months ago

What I like about our AD's approach:

Keeping the assistants to run the program's recruiting and assuring them of jobs. Very good. Tells me his last-ditch plan was an NFL guy and probably Leavitt, not a bad back up plan at all. A+

Taking the show on the road and using a private jet to do it. Very good. Totally off the radar so to speak. A+

Absolute secrecy. A+

If the contract details are to be as reported and he is willing to walk from people who will not buy into a contract that is in the best interest of KU, then he deserves another high grade for negotiations. A+

Suspense A+

Unfortunately we will never know what took place behind the scenes. That's okay. Just get us a good hire. I have a lot more confidence in the search this time. I was shocked at first when Gill was given the job, tried to get behind him, liked the recruiting, the man. He was not ready for this job. I don't think we will make that mistake for awhile.

My hope is that the next hire is here a very long time.


hihawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Zenger is our guy, he is a KSTer, he will save KU. Always look for a Kansas ST. graduate to save the day.


bville_hawk 2 years, 4 months ago

An Auburn site thinks Malzahn is 'closing in' on Kansas job (is he closing in on us or us on him?).


shelleysue 2 years, 4 months ago

This is worse than waiting on Christmas. I sure hope whoever Zenger hires, they bring great coaches with them. Especially defense, special teams and strength. As I've said - would love to have Chris Dawson back. Just one more thing we can thank Lew for screwing us over on.


Scut Farkus 2 years, 4 months ago

Show me one credible source that proves Leach was the "main target". I think Zenger has a lot more smarts than that. Malzahn could be interesting. No HC experience and he will be expensive. I hope Zenger doesn't put the program in an a bad situation like Perkins did. Another $2M contract could break the bank and not allow for an easy escape if he pulls a Gill. Malzhan makes $1.5M as an OC. I think the main concern is why did Arkansas turn him down and why did no one try pick him up after the great season 2010 Auburn had?


AzNHawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Please hire Malzahn and give him the budget to hire a DARN GOOD defensive coordinator.


Ron Prichard 2 years, 4 months ago

I read a little on Malzahn. Based on his values, coaching history and connections in the south (including Texas) I think he would have to be considered one of the favorites. I think he would be a great hire, even without the head coaching experience.


billboy89 2 years, 4 months ago

One word: DITKA! Mike Ditka, come on down!


Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

No way on Weiss... If you can't win at Notre Dame, why would you be able to win at Kansas? We have a lot of good things going for us, but at the present time we are not Notre Dame. Malzahn would be a good hire as would Jim Mora Jr.


bjejayhawk69 2 years, 4 months ago

Leavitt - would be a great - plus a strong history with Zenger would make him very comfortable.

Chryst and Malzahn would be an OK hire but good potential.

Weiss - interesting but ? his recruiting fire and how long would he stay

Peterson - wouldn't hurt to call - doubt he would leave the blue turf

Stoops - bring his brother as DC - doesn't sound like Zenger has contacted him - name alone would help recruiting

Dykes and Doeren or even Fulmer would be OK is nothing else above works out

NO to Koetter - he would not excite any body. NO to Venables - his shine has worn off even at OU - young but OU's defense has not been the same his Mike Stoops left.

Major NO to Nutt - I would bring back Glen Mason before I would hire Nutt.

I still like the idea of hiring a guy with head coaching experience. You never know if coordinators are going to work out. A lot of times they do but KU can't afford chances unless it is with a head coach.


KCatty 2 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know who the sources were for the radio reports Tait makes reference to that said we had an agreement in place with Malzahn? Do we have actual sources for any of these candidates or just speculation?


KGphoto 2 years, 4 months ago

If Dirk Koetter doesn't come off that list I'm gonna puke. If Zenger hires Dirk I will lose all respect for him.

What he did at ASU was worse than Sandusky. Dirk Let a guy threaten to kill women on campus, and then played him in games because he was their best player. Then of course that kid DID kill somebody, in cold blood in his own car, for talking to one of the women he had threatened in the first place. Not to mention the fact that the kid was using steroids to begin with. Dirk turned a blind eye and somebody wound up dead. How is that not worse than anybody involved with the Penn St. ordeal?


Kansashawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Wouldn't the list be shorter and easier to manage of who isn't a candidate? Can we get a percentage wheel on that??


troutsee 2 years, 4 months ago

I also liked Mason when he was here and he did a heck of a job at Minnesota. Hiring him would be very very acceptable to me.


Fletcher Anderson 2 years, 4 months ago

Zenger is in Chicago and has been since the start. He is staying next to Chicago executive airport and has been using a private jet. I am trying to track down which hotel and plane number


troutsee 2 years, 4 months ago

Dave Christianson from Wyoming. So what if he used to coach of MU. Big deal. I think he would be a good fit for KU


fabio 2 years, 4 months ago

Phillip Fulmer and Glen Mason, actual head coaches.


1jhawk2 2 years, 4 months ago

p> reports a lot of coaches are going to bat for Jim Leavitt. I would be happy with him.

Would be happy with Chris Petersen - I know I'm dreaming Paul Chryst - didn't think he'd stil be available (Illinoise) or have interest in us Jim Leavitt - he's been mentioned, then not, then again, then not, now again Charlie Weiss - far different expectations and pressures here vs. ND

Plan G and H Gary Barnett - Yes, but can offer instant creditbility Dirk Koetter - he dealth with character issues as ASU


IrishDaddy 2 years, 4 months ago

perhaps the problem is that these guys are confused over who Kansas University is.

Perhaps it;s time for LJW to get it RIGHT!


HarleyFord 2 years, 4 months ago

Coaching career

[edit] NFL

After retirement as an active player, Cromwell began his coaching career with the Rams. He served as a defensive and special teams assistant in 1991 before being hired by Mike Holmgren to coach special teams for the Green Bay Packers in 1992. From 1992-97, Cromwell headed up the special teams for the Packers. The Packers' punt return unit led the NFL in 1996 with a 15.1-yard return average. Five different times during the 1996 season, one of Cromwell's players was honored as Special Teams Player of the Week. Also in 1996, the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots in New Orleans with special teams player Desmond Howard winning the Super Bowl MVP honors. The following year, the Packers reached Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego against the Denver Broncos. In 1998, he moved from special teams to coach the Packers' wide receivers and Cromwell worked with the wide receivers at Green Bay in 1998 helping Pro Bowler Antonio Freeman lead the NFL with 1,424 yards on 84 catches

After two Super Bowl appearances with Green Bay, in 1996 and 1997, Cromwell followed Holmgren to the Seattle Seahawks to coach the wide receivers. Cromwell's 2002 wide receiver corps set a franchise record for 300-yard (five) and 400-yard (two) passing games and in 2003 helped quarterback Matt Hasselbeck set a club record with 3,841 passing yardsIn Seattle, Cromwell again made a Super Bowl appearance as a coach during the Seahawks' 2005 season.

He is now the Wide Receiver coach for the St. Louis Rams and has been so since February 10, 2010

[edit] College

On January 5, 2008, Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman named Cromwell to be his offensive coordinator.[3] When asked by media as to why he chose Cromwell, Sherman responded "I’ve always been impressed with him and the job he did in (the NFL). He’s excited about being part of college football."[4]

On February 10, 2010, Cromwell returned to the NFL as a wide receiver coach for the Rams and works with the likes of Donnie Avery, Mark Clayton, Brandon Gibson, and other to get into synch with new Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.[5]


HarleyFord 2 years, 4 months ago

Cromwell, nicknamed "The Ransom Rambler", was an honorable mention All-America quarterback for the University of Kansas Jayhawks. He started at quarterback for two seasons, throwing 92 passes and completing 33 for 606 yards. He is one of KU's ten 1,000-yard rushers in school history.

As a freshman in 1973 he was the starting safety in the Liberty Bowl. After being a two-year starter at safety he made the move to quarterback where he broke several KU, Big Eight and NCAA records for rushing by a quarterback. In 1975, Cromwell rushed 294 and 187 yards in the Oregon State and Wisconsin games, respectively, and finished the season with 1,124 rushing yards. He also scored a touchdown in a stunning 23-3 win over the University of Oklahoma was ranked #1 at the time and the defending National Champions. Despite playing in just 18 games on offense at Kansas, he is 13th on the all-time rushing charts and is the top rushing quarterback. The 1975 Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year, All-Conference and Academic All-Conference's rushing total was the third highest in NCAA history at the time. His 294 yards rushing by a quarterback is still an NCAA record for a Division I school. He holds the Kansas record for most rushes (24) by a Kansas player in a Bowl game (set vs. Pittsburgh in the 1975 Sun Bowl).

Cromwell also earned All-America in the 600-yard run and the 440-hurdles while setting KU records in the 600-meter and 400-meter yard runs, the intermediate hurdles (a record he still holds 49:47) and the decathlon and qualified for the US Olympic trials in the low hurdles.[2]

he was part of the Big-8 champion mile relay team in 1975 and 1976, was the Big-8 440-yd/400-meter hurdle champ in both 1975 and 1976 With Cromwell's contributions the 1975 Jayhawk track team finished ranked second in the NCAA in outdoor track and fifth in indoor track while capturing both titles for the Big-8 Conference. In 1976 they repeated as Big-8 indoor champs and were second in outdoor while finishing tied for 9th in the NCAA in indoor competition and ited for 20th in outdoor competition.

Cromwell was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.


HarleyFord 2 years, 4 months ago

KU needs the "Ransom Rambler" Nolan Cromwell. A star KU player 1973-1976, All Pro cornerback for the LA Rams, he has been in coaching since retirement from the NFL. He has a couple of Super Bowl rings, He is one of you! Give him a shot! You are not going to get a big name coach. He could be the Bill Snyder for KU. Give him a chance!


kuhawks28 2 years, 4 months ago

How about Ed Warriner? Since we keep asking girls to the dance from the order of hot to significantly less hot, he may be okay? He was the O-Coordinator for the last three or four years. I'm pretty sure I've only heard his name in consideration for the Central Michigan gig.

Attn: SZ. Do not pick Charlie Weis. Please. Don't do that to us.


jhox 2 years, 4 months ago

No Steven Johnson on the coaches list...unbelievable. He's the one guy who showed up and played hard every week, and either led or was near the top in the conference in tackles.


nuleafjhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Don't expect an announcement for a while. There's still 16 shopping days until Christmas. After SZ gets the important stuff out of the way, then he can start looking for a coach.

Good grief folks - what's the big hurry? We don't have a game for another nine months...


Billy Derringer 2 years, 4 months ago

well if you bring back Mason you might as well just bring back Mangino, an yes it seems this job hasnt looked to appealing to new coaches, its a damm shame the fans are ready we just need the right leader on the field, o an can we please get ride of the damm track. put the us closer to the field an make it a true home field adv.


Jayhawk57 2 years, 4 months ago

Becoming clear that this is a tough spot to fill and not tops on many coaches list or we would have more traction with a candidate. Glen Mason is very interested in this position and would be a great hire. He should be added to our list of candidates to watch. He knows how to win at KU and can turn this ship around!


KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Shottenhiemer will get the nod. That would be sweet! I've got to think Zenger has a surprise up his sleeve.....hopefully :-/


Dirk Medema 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting that a confirmation/official announcment has not followed the report regarding Fedora to UNC. Could it be that maybe they have a keegs pulling a Bubba?

Also, 6 all-conf sounds fairly good considering.


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