According to Kansas football coach Les Miles, he’s been “chasing” Mike DeBord as a potential assistant coach for the past few years. The pursuit finally ended this week, when the two long ago Michigan assistants reunited with the Jayhawks.
Miles said during a Wednesday video press conference introduction the timing this offseason finally was right for him to bring in DeBord as KU’s new offensive coordinator. And Miles predicted the hire “is going to make our football team much, much stronger.”
The Jayhawks, who went winless in 2020, obviously are in need of upgrades in a number of areas. In what ended up being Brent Dearmon’s last year as KU’s offensive coordinator, the Jayhawks never scored more than 23 points and averaged just 15.8 points (123rd out of 126 FBS teams) and 259.2 yards per game (126th).
DeBord, who shared with reporters that he also will coach KU’s quarterbacks and handle play-calling duties, said he met on Wednesday with not only offensive coaches but the entire staff. As he became a college coordinator again for the first time since 2018 at Indiana (he was an offensive analyst at Michigan this past year), DeBord’s message to his new coworkers included some reflecting on KU’s recent 0-9 campaign and his opinion of the Jayhawks upon checking out the game footage himself.
“When you go through a season and you’re not happy with it you think sometimes you’re a long way off. And you’re not,” DeBord said. “With the naked eye you’re not. And that’s what I saw. I saw a group that with some things to change up technique wise or to change up some scheme things, we’re going to get this done. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Miles’ newest assistant, who first worked with Miles at Michigan in the early 1990s on Bo Schembechler’s staff, said he watched video of the Jayhawks’ 2020 season to get a handle on the personnel at every offensive position.
“It excited me to be able to come here and work with Les, for Les. And it also excited me to hear what the staff was all about. And it excited me, what I saw on film,” he said.
Though DeBord kept many of the specifics of what he has in mind for the KU offense to himself, when asked about his vision for the struggling program, he said his first order of business was building relationships with the players, and he talked to QB Jalon Daniels Tuesday night as part of that process.
While he said the KU offense will be “somewhat new,” DeBord claimed he doesn’t have a specific style he wants like to play when the 2021 season begins months from now.
“Score more points than the opponent,” the former O.C. at Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan joked of his philosophy.
“You know what, in all the offenses I’ve coordinated, we never had a set offense. And we’re not going to have that here,” DeBord said. “What we’re going to do is, we’re going to take our time as coaches, we’re going to talk about the players, we’re going to talk about their strengths, what they can do and get to know them. And then we’re going to build that system.”
Miles didn’t field questions on Wednesday, but in the coach’s introduction he pointed out DeBord used to coach two quarterbacks involved in the upcoming Super Bowl. DeBord was the offensive coordinator for Michigan from 1997-99, when Tampa Bay QB and future hall of famer Tom Brady played for the Wolverines. DeBord also served as Michigan’s O.C. from 2006-07, when Chiefs backup Chad Henne manned the QB spot.