Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Players focusing on spring practices as future of KU football head coaching job remains unresolved

Kansas receivers coach and passing game coordinator Emmett Jones coaches from the sideline in this file photo from the  2020 season. KU named Jones the football team's interim head coach on March 11, 2021.

Kansas receivers coach and passing game coordinator Emmett Jones coaches from the sideline in this file photo from the 2020 season. KU named Jones the football team's interim head coach on March 11, 2021.


The Kansas football program had a new visitor at practice on Tuesday when Travis Goff, KU’s athletic director, stopped by.

Jayhawks super senior Ricky Thomas told reporters after the session that he and other teammates learned that Goff was in attendance and observing.

“He was pretty busy,” Thomas said, while explaining the new AD’s first day back in Lawrence didn’t include speaking to the KU football team.

With Goff set to have an introductory press conference on Wednesday, many are wondering what his plans for the future of the program entail, and exactly how long interim head coach Emmett Jones will remain in charge of the program.

Several players on Monday used social media as a platform for them to endorse Jones for the long haul.

All the while, the Jayhawks, winless in 2020 under former head coach Les Miles, are going through a critical portion of the offseason. As they put in the work that they hope will help turn the program around, they don’t know whether Jones or someone else will be leading them onto the field in the fall.

Thomas, a safety entering his fourth year in the program, downplayed the challenges the circumstances present.

“We’re just players, man. So we’re just focusing on the task in front of us,” Thomas said, “and that’s just getting better every single day. Put our best foot forward and let whoever takes care of that handle that.”

Likewise, junior tight end Mason Fairchild said the Jayhawks “try not to think about” the current uncertainty attached to the head coaching position.

“We just come in with that attitude that we’re going to get better today,” Fairchild said shortly after KU’s third spring practice. “We’ll let what happens happen. But ultimately we can’t make any decisions.”

According to Fairchild, Jones has done a “great job” leading the players and helping them not worry about what’s going on outside of their facility.

Jones wasn’t made available for the interview session Tuesday night, but is expected to field questions following a practice later this week. On March 30, following the Jayhawks’ first spring practice, Jones was asked about the difficulty of operating amid the uncertainty. He responded with a similar line of thought to the ones voiced by Thomas and Fairchild.

“I just take it one day at a time, and try to be great,” Jones said.

The Jayhawks still have 12 spring practices remaining — including a May 1 spring game a few weeks away. Would Goff consider bringing in a new head coach in the midst of spring ball? It may not even be feasible, depending on the new AD’s plans for the struggling program.

Thomas was asked Tuesday how difficult it would be for the Jayhawks if a change in leadership did occur before spring practices concluded.

“I just feel like we have to focus on what we have to do, and let them focus on that,” Thomas replied, “and let the chips fall where they fall.”

The players don’t yet know who will become their next permanent head coach. But Fairchild said Jones, KU’s receivers coach and passing game coordinator, has helped them remain zeroed in on what’s in front of them in the present.

“Just come in and get better so you can perform in the fall,” Fairchild said of the interim head coach’s message. “That’s really been the biggest thing.”


Dale Rogers 2 months, 1 week ago

I'm pulling for Emmett Jones to be the HC or IHC or AHC through this coming season. Then decide whether to make a change. Let's not throw another wrench into the works by shifting gears just as the youngsters are showing some promise.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

“I just take it one day at a time, and try to be great”.

What an incredible philosophy.

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

I don't think Goff was hired to punt the football coach decision for a year.

There has been a lot of noise about coaches being interested and interviews already occurring. Goff was hired to make a coaching decision and build a football stadium. Everything else is icing.

I think he has ties to Willie Fritz and so that could be a very likely choice. I like Randy Shannon from what I've heard. Monken is one of those coaches that will change the offense so much and I'm not sure how that would work in the Big XII offensive schemes; however, we will see.

Michael Maris 2 months, 1 week ago

You probably didn't intend to omit Lance Leipold's name.

I do think that Lance should be included as a potential candidate. When reviewing Lance's HC'ing resume, his HC record @ Wisconsin Whitewater (D-III) and now @ Buffalo shows that he's a builder of a Program.

Wisconsin Whitewater won 6 NC's under Lance's tenure. Wisconsin Whitewater lost 1 National Championship (as well). So, Lance was the HC for 8 years, and Wisconsin Whitewater was a participant in the National Championship 7 of those 8 seasons.

Now @ U. of Buffalo, he's been their HC for 6 seasons, and Buffalo has been a Post-season Bowl game for the last 3 seasons (30-16 in the last 4 seasons).

I feel that Lance Leipold should be a candidate to take a hard serious look at (for Kansas Jayhawks Football HC position). Not that I have anything against Coach Fritz or Jeff Monken. They both have done an outstanding job of building their own respective HC'ing resume's as well.

I do wonder how attractive Monken's offense will be to potential incoming recruits? And, over the long term, how effective will Monken's offense be in the Big XII (once the other schools begin practicing against such offensive style (year in and year out).

Time will tell what path new AD Goff takes. RCJH.......

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