Wednesday, January 6, 2016

KU linebackers coach Kevin Kane leaving to become defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois

Kansas linebackers coach Kevin Kane gets down as he watches linebackers Aaron Plump (34) and Schyler Miles square off to hit on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at the fields south of Anschutz Pavilion.

Kansas linebackers coach Kevin Kane gets down as he watches linebackers Aaron Plump (34) and Schyler Miles square off to hit on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at the fields south of Anschutz Pavilion.


Kansas University football coach David Beaty confirmed to the Journal-World on Wednesday afternoon that linebackers coach Kevin Kane was leaving the program to return to Northern Illinois, where he will serve as NIU's new defensive coordinator.

NIU later announced the hire in a news release.

“It’s great to have Kevin, his wife Theresa and their family back as part of our Huskie family,” NIU coach Rod Carey said in the release. “With his familiarity with our program and players after just one season away, it was a no-brainer to bring him back. I’m excited for this opportunity for him and have no doubt he’s going to be a top-notch defensive coordinator.”

Kane, who played at Kansas from 2002-05 and returned to coach his alma mater during the 2015 season after a four-year stint as an assistant at Northern Illinois, leaves the Jayhawks looking for someone who can recruit the Kansas City area.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Kane also coached as a graduate assistant at KU from 2006-07 before spending three years on the staff at Wisconsin.

A source close to the KU football program said losing Kane after just one season was disappointing but added that “if schools aren't going after your guys, you've got the wrong ones.”

In addition, the general sentiment within the program and among those who know Kane best view the move as a bummer for KU football but a great thing for Kane.

Kane seems to agree.

“I’m excited to be back in DeKalb with the team I know so well that has had so much success,” said the 31-year-old Kane in the release. “(Former NIU DC) Coach (Jay) Niemann has done a great job over the past five years at NIU. I studied under him, learned under him and we want to continue the success that NIU has had. I can’t wait to get my foot in the door and be back in DeKalb calling the defense. One of the things I love about coming back is I know all the players there already. I get to coach the linebackers I helped bring to the school, with a defensive line and defensive backs, as well as a coaching staff, that I know. Being away, I’ve learned a lot and hope to incorporate some of the things I’ve learned and just continue the winning tradition that’s been built.”

Kane's biggest contribution during his one season as a full-time assistant in Lawrence had to be the role he played in the development of sophomore Joe Dineen, who entered 2015 never having played linebacker yet wound up finishing second on the team with 86 tackles and third with three sacks. Early in the season, it was clear that Dineen was adjusting to a new position and playing a step slow during certain portions of each game. By the end of the year, however, the Free State High grad began playing much faster and using his natural instincts to become a play-making force for the Kansas defense.

There has been no word on what the Jayhawks will do to replace Kane and no time line for a hire has been given.


Brett McCabe 5 years, 9 months ago

Too bad Kane will have to sit out a year as required by the NCAA...oh wait...that's just the kids who have to do that.

What's Willie Pless doing these days? He knows a little bit about linebacking.

Unnamed coach with recruiting ties to Texas to be named in 3....2...1.....

Dustin Peterson 5 years, 9 months ago

Steven Johnson is a free agent. If he doesn't get any better offers, might not hurt to see if he wants to try it out.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 9 months ago

That would be an excellent way to go - if he's available. How about getting Campo back? Seemed like the kids loved him and he could really coach a position. Plus, he has tons of ties to Texas.

Ken Schmidt 5 years, 9 months ago

+1 for Campo. His absence from the staff was one of the few negatives from the coaching change in my estimation. You just cannot replace the knowledge he has and I feel that he always remains a good coach for coaches as well.

Vernon Riggs 5 years, 9 months ago

Here is a TX/OK/KS name with linebacker and special team experience....Brad Franchione. Rumors that his father would resign this season or next, he is at Texas State as Linebacker/Special Teams Coach,

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

Losing a coach because he's making an upward move isn't a bad thing for the reputation of a school. It means your coaches are doing a good enough job to merit a promotion so this is a situation where losing a coach is a good thing.

Campo is a DB not LB coach and he's retired now so move along. If any of KU's current GA's played LB, then that's the best hire for this staff to replace Kane.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, I think we assumed that Campo had enough football knowledge to coach linebackers. Not exactly a leap from the moon to Jupiter. Promoting a GA would be a really, really, really bad idea. Our team needs first-rate coaches - we need to scour until we find one for this vacancy.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

Campo has never coached LB's and it is a different animal from coaching DB's. Getting a top line LB coach ain't happening and KU isn't paying for one and a current top LB coach likely wouldn't be interested in KU in the first place. KU is a stepping stone school. It is where a lot of coaches climb the ranks of being a first time coordinator or first time at a major conference school. KU is a place where you have to find the diamonds in the rough both on the field and on the sidelines because KU isn't attracting top prospect players or coaches right now. I don't know who KU's GA's were this season, but if any of them are former LB's that is the way to go because of the youth of the current staff, and a current GA is already going to be familiar with the players, system, other coaches, and responsibilities of the job including recruiting. If there's not a current GA that's a former LB, the new LB coach is likely coming a Group of 5 school or the FCS ranks.

Alex Fletcher 5 years, 9 months ago

James Holt the former Jayhawk Linebacker was one of the GA's this past year. I wouldn't mind seeing him get the position

Dirk Medema 5 years, 9 months ago

James Holt, 2015 GA, was a great LB for us in the OB year in particular. He would also seem like a good choice because I seem to recall him being an underrated recruit that overachieved. We need that. The question would be whether he is ready for it.

If I recall correctly, KU does have some extra $ for assistants due to the lesser $ paid to Beaty, tho we're barely finished with TG and have 2 more years on CW's, but what's a few $M among friends.

Joseph Bullock 5 years, 9 months ago

We don't want a 'GA'! We need someone with recruiting ties, who is well versed, and well respected as a recruiter, and who also has a lot more experience! Coach Beatty will make a good decision!

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

If there's an LB coach with those qualifications, why are they coming to KU? KU isn't getting someone who is making a lateral at best move to fill that role. Everybody on Beaty's staff made a vertical move to come to KU minus the 2 guys Beaty retained on staff. They either moved up in terms of job responsibilities or level of competition.

Layne Pierce 5 years, 9 months ago

Most disappointing is what it says about Kane's view of KU recovery timeline. Clearly he sees 3 to 4 years just to get to .500.

As far as replacement, the KC recruiter is a big deal for KU. We can and should do better there and this does not help.

Obviously he does not like losing. Who does?

Jeremy D. Morris 5 years, 9 months ago

I think you are reading way too much into this. He is leaving to become a D-Coordinator. Quite a step up in job responsibilities and pay. He doesn't have that opportunity here at KU. In my mind, it would be a mistake not to take the job and I'm sure the other members of KU's coaching staff encouraged him to take it all the while wishing he'd stay.

Michael Maris 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree with your statement. From LB Coach to DC @ NIU (even if it is less pay, I have no idea if that is true yet). But, the ability to move up is the key to Kane's decision. I'm sure that Coach Beaty and Bowen give their blessing to Coach Kane.

Jim Stauffer 5 years, 9 months ago

Weak sauce. What it says is Kane recognizes a promotion when he sees one. DC is better for his career than LB. He is moving up and will continue to. Hey, someday he may be DC or HC here, his alma mater.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 9 months ago

Let's see...KU's defense was about 60ish, and we hired Clint Bowen back...immediately dropping us into the bottom 10 in defense, where we have remained for the past four years with him as a DC or Associate DC. Now the defensive coaches are leaving...maybe a stronger indicator of the head defensive mind at our team. We were dead last 128 in defense this year.

Michael Leiker 5 years, 9 months ago

We were open house hopping last year, randomly followed Kane around to one house after another...guess I was under the impression he was going to be here long term. That's too bad

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