This isn’t Jeff Long’s first search for a head football coach, but the University of Kansas athletic director is dealing with a different set of circumstances this time around.
Thursday marked the 11th day of Long’s ongoing in-season search for David Beaty’s replacement, and the clock is ticking, with the Jayhawks’ season ending next week, on Black Friday.
“Since I’ve made this announcement,” Long said Nov. 4, on the day he fired Beaty with three games remaining, “I think it will be important that we act reasonably quickly, shortly after the season, if not before.”
Significant news on that front emerged Thursday afternoon, when LSU announced it had reached a settlement with former coach Les Miles over the money it still owed him, after firing Miles in 2016.
The settlement clears the way for Miles to coach again, and sign a new contract, wherever he pleases.
As University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long continues his search for the football program's next head coach, KU football beat writer Benton Smith is joined by KUsports.com's Matt Tait and Shane Jackson as they answer reader questions about candidates, discuss the ramifications of the hire and much more.
The last time Long was responsible for landing a Power Five head coach, at Arkansas in 2012, he had a much longer timetable in place. Back then, Long fired Bobby Petrino in April, after the coach’s motorcycle accident eventually revealed Petrino had hired his mistress to work for the football program and the coach misled members of the athletic department.
With Petrino’s firing coming in the spring instead of November or December — coaching carrousel season in college football — Long went the interim route, and John Smith coached the Razorbacks in 2012.
It wasn’t until Dec. 4, 2012, that Long hired Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin — 11 days after the Arkansas season ended and three days after Wisconsin won the Big Ten Championship Game.
When Arkansas hired Bobby Petrino in 2007, Long was the incoming athletic director and handled the search during active Arkansas AD Frank Broyles' final months — an abnormal set of circumstances for a search. Razorbacks football coach Houston Nutt stepped down from the job in late November, at the conclusion of the regular season. Arkansas hired Petrino away from the Atlanta Falcons a little more than two weeks later.
In 2004, Long was Pittsburgh’s athletic director when head coach Walt Harris left following the end of the regular season for Stanford. It took Long 11 days to hire the football program’s next head coach, Dave Wannstedt.
According to a KU spokesperson reached by the Journal-World, the university has some guidelines that call for a job search to last at least 10 calendar days for external hires, but it’s not a legal requirement.
A day after reports of a meeting between Long and Los Angeles Rams senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch emerged, one of the best players in KU football history, Aqib Talib, endorsed Fisch as a candidate.
“Much as we would hate to lose Fisch,” Talib wrote, “he would be a great addition to KU.”
An All-American on the Jayhawks’ Orange Bowl-winning 2007 team, Talib called Fisch “smart,” a “winner” and a “leader,” and wished him luck.
Both Talib and Fisch are currently in their first season with the Rams.
Eight KU football players were named to the Big 12’s academic all-conference team on Thursday, with GPAs of 3.2 or higher: linebacker Keith Loneker Jr., receiver Jeremiah Booker, linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., offensive lineman Clyde McCauley III, receiver Kameron McQueen, running back Reese Randall, safety Bryce Torneden and long snapper John Wirtel.
Loneker earned the first-team distinction for a third time, while Torneden and Booker did for the second year in a row.
KU also had five second-team selections (3.0-3.19 GPAs): offensive linemen Hakeem Adeniji and Chris Hughes, receivers Zach Nachbar and Ryan Schadler, and punter Kyle Thompson.
A redshirt senior linebacker, Dineen was named Thursday one of 20 semifinalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award.
The award focuses primarily on a player’s leadership abilities on and off the field.
Dineen has collected 119 tackles, 10.0 TFLs, 3.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and three quarterback hurries headed into Saturday’s game at No. 6 Oklahoma (6:30 p.m., FOX).
Active in community service projects around his hometown of Lawrence, Dineen, a Free State High School graduate, has been involved with KU football's elementary school reading program, children's football clinics, Special Olympics football clinics and feeding the homeless with JustFood, as well as raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer research.