KU football's ongoing coaching search, home run hires and 2019 basketball title hopes
It’s a wild time of year for Kansas fans, what with the basketball season just underway and the university’s athletic director, Jeff Long, searching for the football program’s next head coach.
So there couldn’t have been a better time to fire up a new feature at KUsports.com, the “Ask Us Anything” blog.
We’ve had great inquiries already and we know there are innumerable more to come, and we encourage you to keep sending them our way.
You can respond to our tweets calling for questions each week — @Kusports — or you can send us your own Tweet using the hashtag #AskKUsports. You also can email us, if that’s easier. Just send your questions to email@example.com and make sure you put #AskKUsports in the subject line.
On to today’s questions.
“Home run hire” is a good way to put it, because Jeff Long would feel good about the immediate future of the football program if he were able to convince Les Miles, Dave Doeren, Seth Littrell or Jason Candle to sign on with the Jayhawks.
But if I had to choose one I’d go with Doeren. He’s in the prime of his career at 46. He’s from the K.C. area. He worked as an assistant coach for Mark Mangino from 2002-05, when the program was on its relative rise, playing in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl and 2005 Fort Worth Bowl.
Doeren was great at Northern Illinois in the MAC and he’s doing really well in the ACC, with the Wolfpack already assured of its fifth straight winning season.
He knows how to win and he knows it actually is possible to do so at Kansas, because he’s experienced it.
I think Doeren would do a phenomenal job. But I don’t know that he’s the candidate Long is after. Or that Doeren would want to leave a program he has in a good spot for one that will need its next coach to take on a massive reclamation project.
Well, it’s obviously too late to go the other direction. But it definitely would be nice to have a peek at that alternate reality in which Long goes with an interim head coach instead.
Saturday’s loss at Kansas State was obviously winnable for the Jayhawks. But too many in-game issues typical of David Beaty’s time at KU kept the Jayhawks from actually winning a Big 12 road game for the first time since 2008. Two. Thousand. Eight.
Quick aside: Shoutout to the fans who stick with this program week in and week out, year after year, losses upon losses. I don’t know how you do it.
Anyway, I think it would have been interesting to see how the offense operated if someone such as Clint Bowen or Bill Miller or Tony Hull were named interim head coach and Garrett Riley became the offensive coordinator.
As Dillon alluded to in his question, having Hull in charge in the interim may have helped in recruiting, but only if Hull was given some sort of assurances he would be retained on the next staff and he were able to hint as much to players back in Louisiana.
Obviously Hull wasn’t placed in charge, so we’ll have to see how quickly Long can assemble the next staff — and whether the next head coach will want to keep Hull around to help recruiting. Either way, the next staff will really have to hustle to build a 2019 signing class.
This is a good question and one I’m hoping to be able to expound upon further in the future.
Obviously Long wasn’t talking about on-field position coaches when he brought this up a little over a week ago. He was referencing the numerous support staff positions that exist at Power Five programs.
There are analysts, recruiting directors, video coordinators, personnel directors, quality control staffers and other positions that help make a football program function. According to the numbers Long cited, other Big 12 programs — and not just Oklahoma and Texas — have “anywhere from eight to 13 to 15” more employees in their football program than KU.
It’s tricky to find the exact numbers for all the programs, because you can’t just open a staff directory and count the names. As one person in the KU athletic department put it to me, Texas has far more strength coaches working for its team than what comes up on a published list of employees.
I’m guessing Long’s righthand man, Mike Vollmar, senior associate AD for football administration, called around to speak with staffers and/or administrators at the Big 12’s other nine schools to find out what type of deficit KU has been operating from.
I thought this was a football blog.
Man, it’s the second week of November, so I’ll have to base my answer on what I’ve actually seen up to this point.
While KU obviously has a nice mix of depth and talent all over the floor, does this Bill Self team have enough athleticism to match up with say, Duke?
(Did I just answer a question with a question?)
It’s definitely possible that Kansas could reach the Final Four and deliver the program’s first title since 2008. But if you made me pick a champion right now I’d go with Duke.
Holy hell, the Blue Devils embarrassed Kentucky at the Champions Classic, putting up 118 points. Between R.J. Barrett, the freaky Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, Duke could have three of the top four picks in the 2019 NBA Draft — that’s if they don’t go 1-2-3.
I’m just going to assume Duke wins it all until I see something that makes me think otherwise.
And Dedric Lawson eventually rounding into his preseason All-America form might be one thing that would change my mind.
Disclaimer: I haven’t even seen Gonzaga or North Carolina or Virginia or Tennessee or numerous other teams play, so I would describe my opinion on the winner of a March tournament that ends in April as fluid.
Does Les Miles still want to coach football? Yes.
Is Les Miles at least interested in the idea of doing so at Kansas? Yes.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
The longer this coaching search goes the less likely it is KU gets Les. If it’s over today or tomorrow, it seems that Miles would be the guy.
While nothing is concrete, I’d say this is trending toward taking a few weeks (from the start of this search on Nov. 4, the day Beaty was fired, to its conclusion). If Miles really wants to take on the burden of coaching at Kansas and Long really wants to hire him, they should be able to hammer out the details and make it official with a contract before the Jayhawks’ season is even over.
If you made me guess right now, though, I’d take the field.