Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Tom Keegan: KU needs to find the department leader who can find the football leader

Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger watches a video replay of a Kansas State touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 45-13 lead in the second-half of the Jayhawks 51-13 loss to KSU Saturday in Manhattan.

Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger watches a video replay of a Kansas State touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 45-13 lead in the second-half of the Jayhawks 51-13 loss to KSU Saturday in Manhattan.


If the recent Scottsdale pow-wow attended by billionaires (with a ‘b’) didn’t cost Sheahon Zenger his job, it obviously didn’t save it.

It represented Zenger’s last chance to scratch out a hit with two strikes by getting the heavy hitters to join the chant for a renovated football stadium.


The last straw? Maybe not. Maybe just another failure to reverse the misfires from an athletic director whose football hires went 5-61 vs. FBS competition, which does far more to screw up the books than hitting home runs in hiring golf and tennis coaches does to prop them up.

Maybe just more of the same.

The timing of the “Raise the Chant” fundraising campaign is far more bizarre than the timing of Zenger’s firing.

Why do it when the football program is in the midst of its worst stretch in history, the worst back-to-back-to back football hires in Power 5 history (Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty) at the same school that made the best back-to-back-to-back hires (Larry Brown, Roy Williams, Bill Self) in the history of college basketball?

The billionaires (with a ‘b’) didn’t buy the desperate attempt to blame the football flu on poor facilities, which doesn’t mean they won’t perk up if Kansas hires an athletic director who before long will hire a football coach capable of building something from nothing.

If you build it, they will come in this case means that if you build a credible football program, they will come to the table with their generous donations in hand.

The coach comes first, then the buildings. David Booth launched the campaign with a whopping $50 million donation, $26 million of which will be used for the football practice facility, but he was the exception. Others understandably wanted evidence that KU had the leadership team in place to make the necessary moves to reverse the avalanche of bad football momentum.

Chancellor Doug Girod, not one to make hasty decisions, can be questioned for waiting this long, especially since it’s reasonable to think that a new football staff would have been recruiting the Class of 2019 more aggressively than the current one and would be more well received because an 0-0 record is easier to sell than 3-33.

Girod wasn’t ready to make the move at the end of the football season because he hadn’t given Zenger and his tree-shaking staff time to show that they could turn 3-33 into gigantic donations.

Credit the chancellor with getting around to doing what had to be done.

Now, of course, what needs to be done is to hire a strong leader who will increase the transparency of the athletic department, will not use a spokesman to talk for him, and most importantly, will hire the right football coach at the right time.

It was comforting to read that Jed Hughes of the Korn Ferry executive search firm will assist Drue Jennings because Hughes has a strong reputation for identifying leaders, particularly football leaders.

A coach in college and pro football for 20 years, Hughes worked for football coaching giants Chuck Knoll of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bud Grant of the Minnesota Vikings, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler and UCLA’s Terry Donahue, the most underrated coach in the history of college football.

Hughes is helping Kansas hire an athletic director, not a football coach, but he’ll know how to ask the right questions, weigh the answers and sort the baloney from the prime beef.

A good first question for every prospective candidate: Give me the five names on your short list for the Kansas football head coaching job once the inevitable takes place and why those five? Why not these five: Willie Fritz (Tulane), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Jeff Monken (Army), Ed Warinner (Michigan assistant) and Tim Beck (Texas assistant)?

Be specific. Make no attempt to hide that this hire is about finding the right guy to make the football hire, which will help whip the department into better financial shape.

Enough is enough, as the billionaires (with a ‘b’) let it be known at the pow-wow. It’s time to bring strong leadership capable of identifying a strong leader to bring the football program out of the dank basement, bring the athletic department out of denial about the state of the program heading into its ninth season of a slow rot.


Richard Duran 1 year, 8 months ago

THE NEXT football coach at KU should be Jim Leonhard.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 8 months ago

Just read the resume. Checks a lot of boxes. Goes to show how important the AD hire is - who has the smarts and the juice to identify and recruit the coach we need?

Sae Thirtysix 1 year, 8 months ago

Just getting to this story at 3p or so. Can hardly wait to read the TKeegan defenders below . . . . oh boyeeee!!

Caleb Loong 1 year, 8 months ago

Can we actually have Drue Jennings as the AD? He seems to be the most successful AD in recent history, look what he can do (hire Bill Self) in a mere three-month tenure!

Bob Hiller 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, I went to KU Law School with Drue Jennings and he represents the very best that KU has ever seen everything you can think of.

Bill Kackley 1 year, 8 months ago

Now if the Journal-World would just do the same and fire your sorry ass our newspapers sports department could improve.

Larry Knzas 1 year, 8 months ago

Bill you beat me to the comment. Bravo. LJW, please have the courage of Girod.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't understand why Tom needs to be fired. He reports what he sees and thought Zenger deserved to be fired. Guess what? So did your University Chancellor. Maybe the intelligent thing would be to take it up with Dr. Girod since he's the one responsible for firing your buddy.

Brad Sherp 1 year, 8 months ago

It is amusing that Tom states opinions about a horrible product, and you blame his opinions instead of the horrible product. KU is so bad at football that 99% of the people who consider themselves fans are completely apathetic.

The 1%'ers who are left are pathetic. We are either fiercely defensive (like you), or way beyond frustrated (like me). You are directing all of your negative energy at the wrong guy. You want to shoot the messenger. The reporting is not the problem. The subject matter is the problem.

Tom is right more often than he is not. Ironically, the times he has been wrong as of late are when he had indicated that he thought the program was improving (like last off season). Had he been right, I can only imagine how much more you would blame him for being right.

Chad Dexter 1 year, 8 months ago

Geez, that's kind of harsh and over the top. Tom is doing just fine at his job, IMO.

Joe Ross 1 year, 8 months ago

Obviously you dont appreciate the strong work and extra effort these guys put into writing for KUsports. Doesnt mean you have to agree with everything they say, but it appears evident that your knee-jerk reaction is way too strong.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 8 months ago

Tom, thanks for the insight on knowing what was actually the last straw. Many people wondered about the timing of this project, especially when it was backed up by suspicious extensions for both Zenger and Beaty.

If you hire the right AD, he/she can identify from many candidates the one who can reshape KU football. There are plenty of talented coaches out there who will not only take, but it will jump at this job. But it doesn't matter who the hire is, the key question is this: can he punch above his weight? And do so consistently for 12 rounds.

We need our Joe Frazier. Although Muhammad was the greatest fighter, of any weight class, of all time......Ali isn't walking through that door. We need our version of Smokin' Joe. KSU wisely got theirs many years ago - twice. Boise got theirs. Wyoming has theirs. Time for KU to get ours.

Jim Stauffer 1 year, 8 months ago

Way to go Tom. Must have taken a full committee to come up with the idea for this article. Most of us know we need to get Football up and running. We also know it will take a Coach to do that. By the way, we have one trying again this Fall. He may throw a monkey wrench into your plans, but if he doesn't we all realize the new AD has to hire someone who can. Scratch Warriner and Beck off your list. You and everyone else has used the club of inexperience against Beaty and you have it in hand if those guys fail. Let's stick with your story and let the new AD bring his ideas to the table. If he has to resort to your list, he must not be much of an AD. I certainly would not want you hiring my next FB coach.

Brad Sherp 1 year, 8 months ago

Unlike Beaty, Warinner and Beck have successful experience as OCs at Ohio State when Ohio State has been in the playoff consistently. Beck is now the OC at Texas. Your comparison is not apples to apples.

It is unusual for any coach to go from position coach with no successful coordinating experience to HC. Not unprecedented, but very unusual. The normal progression is position coach to coordinator to HC. Beaty jumped from position coach to HC.

Beaty was OC for a year at Rice, but he was so bad that he was not retained after than one year in favor of Reagan, who KU later hired because of his success fixing Beaty's offense. It is actually kind of funny if you think about it. Reagan gained credibility by fixing a mess that Beaty made only to be later replaced by Beaty at another program.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 8 months ago

Tom, I like that you list coaching candidates. I don't know much about AD's but one thing I would definitely ask them is "who would you hire and who do you have connections with." I have a list of guys I like and your list actually reminded me I left a few off. But I have Dave Doeren at the top of my list. Maybe it's a reach? But he's a Kansas guy and he's 1.) proven to be successful at a power 5 program and 2.) would stay for awhile as long as he was successful.

Steve Corder 1 year, 8 months ago

It is a terribly lonely place to be for a leader to charge ahead, expecting or perhaps even hoping for support to enthusiastically follow, only to realize precious few are there.

Brad Sherp 1 year, 8 months ago

I bet Terry Mohajir is our next AD. Worked at KU in the past. From Overland Park. Current AD at Arkansas State.

Spent time as a coach and graduate assistant under Glen Mason, so he gets football.

I bet he is at the very least on the short list.

Aaron Paisley 1 year, 8 months ago

That's not a dissimilar background to what Zenger had prior to KU. A Kansan with a background that includes being a football coach.

Mike Barnhart 1 year, 8 months ago

Travis Goff:

Assistant AD at Northwestern (much improved in basketball and top 25 in football.) Raises LOTS of money! Dodge City alum and KU grad.

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year, 8 months ago

Gil, Weis, Beaty, ?.

They need to it right this time or it's just a self imposed death penalty. Never mind the fans the Big 12 may throw them out the same way Temple football was thrown out of the Big East "due to lack of commitment to the football program"

Bill McGovern 1 year, 8 months ago

Well said Tom. This is a critical point for KU football. We need a Snyder type coach more than ever to turn this thing around. Snyder himself said he had less to work with when he started at KSU, so that's something.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 8 months ago

I do like the question of who are your football options, but I would want your top three. Five is throwing out too many. I would prefer someone to say, I have one and this is who it will be. A leader with a plan.

Aaron Paisley 1 year, 8 months ago

At KU, it may take that many candidates, or more, before finding the right fit.

John Brazelton 1 year, 8 months ago

Tom, just because you got lucky in setting up the negative climate for KU Athletics and can now brag that you helped get the AD fired, don't think that you can get everyone associated with KU Athletics fired. (By the way, Zengor received a $5 million dollar+ salary over his seven years, including payout. More money than you'll ever make in your entire lifetime. I think he gets the last laugh.) The football coaches and players now realize that they need a winning record and a bowl game to save the current coach and his assistants. Highly unlikely, but don't count the program out before the 2018 season is played. Simply look at the number of football coaches OU and Nebraska have had versus their number of basketball coaches. Then look at the number of basketball coaches that KU has had versus the number of football coaches. That makes very easy to see where the problem lies.

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year, 8 months ago

Holy cow John been drinking the Bryson kool-aid?

Bill McGovern 1 year, 8 months ago

Of course Zenger's best pal in the world Brazelton rushes to his defense. I'm puzzled at your devotion to the guy, and your weird obsession with Keegan's salary.

Lance Meier 1 year, 7 months ago

JOHN, U the MAN!!! I've been saying the same thing... Consistency and continuity, you will get no where getting rid of a coach that "WANTS' to be here and can't do a darn thing til he gets his 85 Scholarships... Til that happens do not expect a great deal on that OLD field... If coaching Big XII football was easy we could all do it, Beaty has been put behind the 8 ball so darn far and down a black hole so far he's always looking UP... NUMBERS!!! We (KU) needs NUMBERS, and numbers that can play football... RCJH

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year, 8 months ago

That's like being upset with the weather person for reporting that it is raining.

Robert Brock 1 year, 8 months ago

Keegan had nothing to do with KU’s football program dropping so low that the Jayhawks may end up in a non P5 conference.

George Johnston 1 year, 8 months ago

Mr. Brazelton, I am trying to understand your comment. By "setting up the negative climate," do you mean "reporting that Beaty's record is 3-33 and stating an opinion that 3-33 is not a winning record"?

Then you say, "Simply look at the number of football coaches OU and Nebraska have had versus their number of basketball coaches. Then look at the number of basketball coaches that KU has had versus the number of football coaches." Do you really believe that, if a school keeps a bad coach around long enough, the coach will somehow learn competence?

Nebraska fired Bernie Masterson after 2 years, George Clark after 1 year, Pete Elliott after 1 year, NU then tried keeping an incompetent coach but, after 5 years, he was still losing, so they fired him. The Huskers then hired Bob Devaney. He was 9-2 his first year and kept winning so NU kept extending his tenure. Next came Tom Osborne, another long time winner. Frank Solich was next and he was fired because he had a 9-3 record after a 7-7 season. NU followed with Bill Callahan, who was fired after 4 years with a 27-22 record.

In other words, you have it backwards. Success leads to long tenures, long tenures don't lead to success.

Lance Meier 1 year, 7 months ago

GEORGE!!! John is saying, keep a coach here that wants to B here and if U think firing a coach every 2/3 years then U never get anywhere BUT start over and over again... Consistency and continuity with coaches and an O and D, you know you'll have each year, SO MUCH EASIER TO RECRUIT!!!

Joe Joseph 1 year, 8 months ago

For all of the success Ed Warinner has had as an assistant coach, it really baffles me as to why he hasn't yet found an HC job.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 8 months ago

And prickly won't work here - if that is indeed the case. There is a good chance people are going to have to pony-up to pay-off Zenger and Beaty, and also put together a very good compensation package for the head coach and the staff. I don't think the donors are going to do that unless the new coach is willing to play a little ball.

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year, 8 months ago


If the coaches, assistant or otherwise do not think that they will have a job come seasons end do some start looking now? Not that we were expecting to have a great season but this could really hurt if some start leaving before or during season. They have families and will definitely want to be assured of security for them. What about the players? Are some already looking to get out if they think Beaty won't be around and the new coach wants to get his own recruits in?

If Hull leaves that's a huge problem.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 8 months ago

How many Universities are looking right now? None...Most coaches have agents and agents do the searching, but the majority of changes occur after the regular season. Even the ones that receive offers, it typically is for after the season. Also, if they leave, we don't have to pay their contracts, a win-win typically.

This might come off rude, but is not intended to be, but not many if any of our coaches are in top demand right now. Ironically, Beaty might be the most sought after as a position coach. Hull might be, but I think KU right now values him more than other universities do.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm guessing that neither the players nor the coaches are quitting on the season before they even get to camp - unlike most of the reporters and "fans".

There is a nice series of articles at the WVU site discussing the quality of each position group, albeit from an NFL evaluation. Still nice to see the comparison ahead of the season. Interestingly, the coaching staff has finally been able to build most of the groups up from the bottom.

Personally, I'm at least willing to give them a chance. Ever faithful. Ever true - even if that is the other school.

Tom Throne 1 year, 8 months ago

Jeff Long, former AD at Arkansas, would be the right guy for the job. Understands football and working with donors

Barry Weiss 1 year, 8 months ago

has anyone seen Bryson? Dude is in hiding.

Whitney Tangeman 1 year, 8 months ago

Bryson = Zenger? Could that explain the email updates? 😁

Joseph Bullock 1 year, 8 months ago

Everyone knows that our Football Team needs to show serious improvement, but when Tom never acknowledges one of the biggest reasons Coach Beaty has had a difficult time getting the Program where we all want it (Scholaships we lost before Beaty-and NCAA Rules that only let you add a certain amount each season), it seems a bit odd. It also iseem obvious that Tom has a personal vendetta against Coach Beaty, because I have never seen someone who is supposed to support a Program, go after a Coach, the way we have all seen Tom do so! I personally think we will see vast improvement in our Football team this coming season, as we have a lot of players coming back, who should improve dramatically, and we also have a lot of really good Recruits who should make a real Positive impact! It is extremely difficult for a Coach to turn a team around in less than 4 to 5 years (however, it sometimes happens)-but the Program is not in as bad a shape as ours was! Why don’t we all just sit back and see how this season plays out, and be Positive, instead of negative-and see how things shake out! PS: I’m not here to argue, or call people names like some do here-that shows immaturity! Have a great day, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Al Martin 1 year, 8 months ago

a) Tom has written several articles about our scholarship situation, b) Tom's job is to report on the program, not support it, and c) want to put some money on how many wins we will see with our vast improvement this year? Didn't think so. Other than that, still a pretty dumb post.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 8 months ago

I hope someone other than me is once again thinking whatever you do don't get another air raid coach. We have to zig while the rest of the conference zags. The run game is what makes K-state tough. We must be able to develop a strong run game. Therefore i like Army and Navy's coaches, both of the Paul Johnson coaching tree. Exciting, creative run game. In Gills second season we played at their house and they averaged 9.5 yards per play, over 700 yards of offense.

Our AD must know that we ought not try to be recruiting alk the same athletes as the rest of the conference. Our Ad must know it is not entirely about the right guy but about the right guy at the right time going in the right direction. Anything less will at best minimally succeed.

Thomas Green 1 year, 8 months ago

Zenger wasn’t fired because of an opinion put forth by Tom Keegan or anyone else’s opinion. He was fired because the football program at KU is a mess and turning that football program around was why he was hired in the first place. He had time to turn it around in the form of some kind of progress and he didn’t. End of story!

All of the personal attacks seem extremely misguided and childish. They certainly don’t have anything to do with the facts or getting this program on the right track, which I would think everyone here really ultimately wants.

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