Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Emmett Jones trying not to worry about interim tag as spring football begins for KU

Kansas football interim head coach Emmett Jones speaks to the Jayhawks as they take a knee during the team's first spring practice, on March 30, 2021.

Kansas football interim head coach Emmett Jones speaks to the Jayhawks as they take a knee during the team's first spring practice, on March 30, 2021.


Without a permanent athletic director or head football coach in place, the exact path for the future of the University of Kansas football program remained unsettled as the Jayhawks opened their spring practice schedule this week.

In fact, the way interim head coach Emmett Jones described his status, even he remains in the dark about what will come next — and when.

“I try not to ask,” Jones replied during a video press conference Tuesday night, when asked what he has been told about how long he will be in the interim role.

Be that as it may, KU’s third-year receivers coach said he’s placing his focus elsewhere, even as many outside the program wonder whether he will be given a shot to keep leading the team beyond the spring and into the 2021 season.

“I don’t want guys to come ask me questions about it. I don’t want to know anything about it,” Jones said. “All I want to know is: what do we have up the next hour? When are position meetings? What are the guys doing? Are the guys in study hall? Are they being respectful across campus? That’s all I really worry about, as far as just the operation of the program. I don’t even think about that question (regarding his future and his interim role).”

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod stated in early March that once an athletic director is in place, that person will determine the next steps to be taken in KU’s search for Les Miles’ permanent replacement.

Girod named Kurt Watson, a KU alumnus and prominent donor, KU’s interim athletic director after Jeff Long stepped down on March 10. Girod said at the time he aimed for KU to have a new AD in place “within the next few weeks.”

The current scenario leaves Jones in limbo, as he tries to lead the Jayhawks through a crucial portion of the offseason.

“I just take it one day at a time, and try to be great,” Jones said, when asked about the difficulty of dealing with the uncertainty. “One day at a time — that’s all I worry about.”

The KU football program is no stranger to criticism, with the Jayhawks winning three games or fewer in 11 consecutive seasons. But the fallout from Miles’ alleged sexual harassment scandal when he was the head coach at LSU years back brought further scrutiny, as well as the fifth coaching search since Mark Mangino was forced out following the 2009 season.

Despite all the outside noise regarding the program, Jones said the football players, as well as the coaches who remain on staff, have concentrated on the big picture.

“We’re just staying the course. If nothing happened, the mission was to show improvement regardless,” Jones responded, when asked how important it would be for the program to show improvement in 2021, in the wake of the departures of Miles and Long.

“So nothing has taken away from that at all,” Jones went on. “We’re just staying the course, as matter of fact, kind of amplifying some stuff a little bit more.”

Amid the current state of unpredictability, Jones said he often has brought up to the players and coaches he now leads just how important it is for them all to be on the same page. And he said the Jayhawks have displaying a unified front since the offseason took an unforeseen turn just a few weeks ago.

“These kids, they’re ready to go,” Jones said. “They feel like they’ve got a point to prove, same with this coaching staff. I can’t do anything by myself. I’ve got a good group of guys with me, all the way around.”


Dale Rogers 3 weeks ago

I am pulling for Jones and for him to pull this thing together and show significant improvement in this team this coming season. After all I've read and heard about him, I'm sure hoping he gets the opportunity to show what he can do as HC or IHC this coming season. I hope the new AD doesn't screw up Jones' opportunity and just lets him do the job.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks ago

Hire him or don’t. Interim will cost us another year of recruiting. Remember Beaty’s last year as a lame duck? I think we had one recruit committed by the end of the season. We need to quit going backwards.

There is only one program looking for a coach right now. At the end of the season there will be multiple schools and you add competition and complexity to the search.

This is an ideal time to choose a coach. If Jones is your guy, then get moving. Of not. Then get moving.

Charlie Gaughn 3 weeks ago

Hiring a coach from an existing program after spring ball will be nearly impossible without paying a huge premium. Hiring a coach that is currently out of work (again) will be a disaster in trying to put a staff together. This program has gotten in a hurry to fill a coaching position before and it's been a train wreck. Let's take a deep breath and approach this systematically rather than emotionally. If Jones doesn't work out we're no worse off than we would've been if Miles was still here.

Remove the interim tag and let's move on.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks ago

Oh my...Jones is Beaty 2.0, his resume isn't even as good as Beaty's was.

Ultimately we need a head coach and you don't wait until after the season and flush a year down the toilet.

There are plenty of articles listing head coaches many of which are expressing interest.

Once the AD is selected, the HC will be next. As for a staff, there is one in place, the HC would likely turn 50% over in 1-2 years, like any head coach does.

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