Originally published December 9, 2018 at 11:51p.m., updated December 10, 2018 at 05:58p.m.

Les Miles announces hiring of D.J. Eliot as KU’s defensive coordinator

FILE — Colorado Buffaloes defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colo. USC won 38-24. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

FILE — Colorado Buffaloes defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colo. USC won 38-24. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


New Kansas football coach Les Miles officially has both of his coordinators in place for his first staff.

As reports from the Journal-World and other outlets during the hours leading up to Monday evening’s KU announcement indicated, Miles hired D.J. Eliot, a former defensive coordinator at Colorado and Kentucky, to take on the same position at KU.

“D.J. Eliot has time and again elevated the defenses he works with," Miles stated in a release. "He knows how to get the best out of his players, both on and off the field. I am very excited to have him on board to lead our defense."

Eliot was the outside linebackers coach and D.C. for the Buffaloes the past two years.

According to USA Today, Eliot made $700,625 in 2018 at Colorado. Terms of his new deal with KU have not yet been made public.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported Sunday night Eliot had one year remaining on his contract with Colorado, but a $300,000 buyout on his deal would be waived, given that Eliot may not have been a part of new head coach Mel Tucker’s plans. Eliot worked for former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre, who was fired in November.

The defensive coordinator at Kansas each of the past five seasons, Clint Bowen, who also coached KU’s cornerbacks this past season, remains under contract with KU. The program has not announced what roles — if any — members of former head coach David Beaty’s staff will take on under Miles. Bowen’s contract doesn’t expire until December of 2019.

A former Pac-12 and SEC defensive coordinator, Eliot joins former Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey as Miles’ most visible assistants.

As of Monday night, KU had announced the hiring of the two coordinators, as well as defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson and offensive line coach Luke Meadows.

While no announcement has been made regarding Beaty’s running backs coach, Tony Hull, the coach from New Orleans has been actively recruiting since Miles took over.

During Eliot’s two seasons as the Buffaloes’ defensive coordinator, Colorado went 5-7 in both 2017 and 2018. This year, Colorado allowed 27.3 points per game (ninth in Pac-12), 380.3 yards per game (fifth in Pac-12), had 15 takeaways (tied for ninth in Pac-12) and made 29 sacks (tied for fourth in Pac-12).

In 2018, KU ranked sixth in the Big 12 in points allowed (30 per game), seventh in yards allowed (418.5 per game), first in takeaways (27) and ninth in sacks (21), while scoring three defensive touchdowns (tied for first).

From 2013-16, Eliot worked as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Kentucky. As a key assistant for Mark Stoops, Eliot helped the Wildcats reach a bowl game for the first time in six years in 2016.

Between Eliot’s stops at Kentucky and Florida State, where he coached defensive ends on Jimbo Fisher’s staff from 2010-12, Eliot coached eight players who were selected in the NFL Draft, including first-rounders Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh, 2015) and Bjoern Werner (Indianapolis, 2013).

When Eliot was at Kentucky, the team set a new program record for defensive touchdowns in a season, with six in 2014, when the Wildcats finished with 23 takeaways. From 2013 to 2014, UK improved 45 places in national total defense rankings, finishing in the top half of the country in 2014. By 2015, UK finished with the 28th-best passing defense among all FBS teams, giving up 198.1 yards per game.

Before he worked at FSU, Eliot coached the defensive line and served as the recruiting coordinator at Rice (2007-09). He coached linebackers at Tulsa in 2006. Prior to that stop, he coached both defensive backs and linebackers at Texas State from 2003-05.

To get started in college coaching, Eliot worked as a graduate assistant at Wyoming (1999), Houston (2000-01) and Miami (Fla.) (2002).

Eliot played linebacker at Wyoming for then-Cowboys coach Dana Dimel and graduated from Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in natural science in 1999. Eliot earned a master’s degree in education from Houston in 2002.

A native of Edmond, Okla., Eliot and his wife, Miekel, have four children: Dawson, Drue, Page and Reace.


John Myers 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm not seeing much that excites me about this hire. CU fans don't seem to think much of him and his numbers aren't thrilling. Having said that, I gotta think HCLM probably knows a little more about picking a DC than I do. Hope he's a good fit and surprises me! ROCK CHALK!

Ray Winger 1 year, 7 months ago

Keep Coach Bowen on staff, as insurance. He was behind that Dallas Cowbows coach and took over most of his job.

Doug Cramer 1 year, 7 months ago

Are you kidding me ?

Have you not looked at Bowen’s career performance as a DC ?

Al Martin 1 year, 7 months ago

Yeah, I know. But I'm taking the stance of trusting Coach Miles' judgment. He needs a guy he can work with, and this is who he chose. Plus there might not have been a lot of clamoring for the job.

James Miller 1 year, 7 months ago

Colorado had talent issues. You must look at his whole body of work. He will be okay.

John Strayer 1 year, 7 months ago

And as a DC...he had not part in that issue? Had no involvement in recruiting at all? Even so...he wasn't able to coach up the talent that was there?

Frederick Heckel 1 year, 7 months ago

His first year at Colorado, they were replacing 9 starters on defense. His second year was way better.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 7 months ago

This is great news. I hope they retain Miller. Although I like Bowen as a Jayhawk, I do think he has had five years to execute defense and just wasnt able to help in the win column.

Gary McCullough 1 year, 7 months ago

Bowen's defense was at the top of the national rankings for takeaways. Just because the offense couldn't turn those turnovers into points isn't on Bowen. I really think we're making a mistake letting Bowen go. He's turned a sow's ear into a silk purse.

Chris DeWeese 1 year, 7 months ago His secondary consistently got burned. Many games were lost after the first quarter because we were down 14 or 21 points. Adjustments tended to come after half time, which was too late. The only reason, I believe, that we saw the modest improvements this year was due to all the upperclassmen having tons of experience. Not because of Clint Bowen's supposed genius.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago kidding...upper classmen with experience!? Bowen never had any player talent to work with until this past year. The first two years under Beaty, KU had over 50 walk-ons! Bowen's done a good job with what he's had.... sometime it would be nice to see what he could do with more talent.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 7 months ago

As pointed out, he wasn't able to help with the win column. Is it 8 or 9 wins that he had over the five years as Defensive Coordinator. Keep in mind part of the DCs responsibility is to scout the defense to aid in the offense being able to move forward.

I have said before, that if Bowen had been fired after Week 3 of 2017, I would have been supportive of Beaty in 2018; however, I believed both of them should not have coached in 2018, and now we see why.

Steve Corder 1 year, 7 months ago

While good coaching maximizes talent and elevates statistics, it sure helps when a coach starts with good talent. As Yogi Berra once said, when asked what makes a great coach, he said, "great players."

Les Miles cannot snap his fingers and pick-off off assistant coaches like some novice playing fantasy football. Miles will put together a good staff.

Brian Hosfelt 1 year, 7 months ago

Nick Saben never became the top coach in college football by coaching 2 star kids....lets give the guy a chance...I'm more worried about recruiting right now.

[''] 1 year, 7 months ago

Mehhhhh....I would have preferred Gibbs from Tx Tech

Buck Bukaty 1 year, 7 months ago

Picking up shiny objects does not guarantee pocketing gold. I say let's respect HC Miles' judgement regarding whomever the new DC and others turn out to be, and let's support the new staff and provide them the opportunity to develop our talents into Gold and Platinum.

Mike Hart 1 year, 7 months ago

In response to Bowen: “ His secondary consistently got burned.”

This is the same secondary that was primarily responsible for KU finishing 4th in nation in takeaways? The secondary that is all underclassmen? Or perhaps the secondary that also suffers due to KU DLine / LB Corp being ranked 90th in sacking the opposing QB. KU ranked 102 in passing defense... not good, but still ahead of Oklahoma State (117th) and Oklahoma (128th). You tell me who has better personnel between those 3 schools? Kansas total defense was ranked ahead of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. What those 3 schools have in common is that they are all ranked in top 25 in offense, so you don’t HEAR about their defensive woes.

Michael Maris 1 year, 7 months ago

Great response. Same thing I have been saying for quite some time. If the Jayhawks offense can't sustain an offensive drive and continually have 3 and punt scenarios. Then, the numbers on the defensive side of the ball are going to suffer as well.

Chris DeWeese 1 year, 7 months ago

Look at Bowen's entire body of work. Look at all the blow outs we've endured over the past 5 years. I still don't understand how people can back Bowen as our DC. Just because he's a likable guy with deep ties to Lawrence/KU does not mean he's suitable as a P5 DC. Any other school in the nation would've fired him. Why did we keep him on for so long? I just don't get it.

Jack Hoff 1 year, 7 months ago

Totally agree Mike. KU giving up so many points was more a result of bad offense than it was bad defense. When your offense is that bad there is no defense in the nation that can can keep getting stops when they are tired and the other team always has good field position. Bowen did a good job recruiting players on defense and coached them up well. I do think he shouldn't return as DC simply because the overall culture still needs to change and unfortunately he was a big piece in a losing culture. He should remain with the team in some capacity though. He would have been a better head coach had we gone with him instead of Beaty and I firmly believe that. All the best to him either way!

Glen Miller 1 year, 7 months ago

One thing that Bowen had to combat almost every year was a lack of offense. When your offense goes 3 and out over 50% of the time..... your defense won't have great numbers. Everyone thinks Bowen needs to go and I 100% disagree. Our defense was miles better this year than last and it's not like we signed a bunch of studs outside of Harris. I call that coaching players up, but apparently logic has left some of you.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 7 months ago

Welcome Coach Eliot...we are lucky to have you and are excited to see the defensive mind you bring with the aid of Les Miles. We also look forward to your defensive scouting report of the other team, in order for our offense to improve as well!

David Robinett 1 year, 7 months ago

He should know how to recruit football players to a basketball school (KY), and the challenges thereof.

David Robinett 1 year, 7 months ago

On FSU staff that improved their Defense from 108 to #2 in the country.

Helped get Rice to their 1st bowl game since 1950!!

He might actually be a PERFECT fit for KU football.

Joe Ross 1 year, 7 months ago

RE: "While no announcement has been made regarding Beaty’s running backs coach, Tony Hull, the coach from New Orleans has been actively recruiting since Miles took over."

I wonder what the "active" status of Hull indicates, if anything. Are other coaches who have not had their status announced staying active besides Hull?

Dane Pratt 1 year, 7 months ago

IDK but four coaches have been hired and Tony is right in front of you presumably waiting for his offer of employment.

Buck Bukaty 1 year, 7 months ago

Open the floodgates! Talent, step forward and multiply~

Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

Benton - Thank you for putting the numbers for the 2 Ds back to back. There's about a 10% difference. Interesting that some want to give the new guy a pass because of the players but not the old guy.

Others say you have to look at the entire body of work which is reasonable. It would seem That the body of work would include starting with a decimated roster and go from blowouts on a regular basis to a mostly rebuilt roster among the national leaders in TOs & INTs playing the 2 top teams in the league and most of the schedule to close games.

I hope our new DC and all the coaches are successful but I don't see this hire as a significant upgrade.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

Joe - There was the recent article that included discussion of us being 13 or 14 non-field/recruiting assistants behind the rest of the league. Could it be that Long and Miles have told the current staff that they will be retained, though possibly at the non-field position. It would help to maintain continuity with the roster, recruiting.

Robert Brock 1 year, 7 months ago

Bowen needs to exit quickly while he can land a DC job at a sub-P5 school. Bowen is a good kid; he should seek employment elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I hope that Hull sticks around. He has brought a spark to a program that needed it.

Bill Kackley 1 year, 7 months ago

Careful what you wish for. Bowen is a Kansas guy and has done a greatjob with Kansas kids. They might appreciate in in Manhatten. I personally think he is getting the shaft by this new coach.

Brad Avery 1 year, 7 months ago

Colorado defense vs Nebraska. The Buffs were not very good and had many of the same problems with tackling, getting off blocks and pass coverage that KU did.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.