For the fifth year in a row, Kansas University sat out the college football bowl season, which coincides with coach hiring/firing season. However, many making headlines during the past month of festive football games and optimism-filled, introductory news conferences for coaches had ties to KU football.
Mark Mangino: Now that the former KU head coach has moved from Youngstown State to Iowa State, Oklahoma State is the only current Big 12 school that was part of the Big Eight when Mangino first worked in the conference for Kansas State that has not employed him. The Cyclones’ new offensive coordinator does have orange in his background, however, having won the 2008 Orange Bowl.
John Reagan: Offensive line coach at KU under Mangino, Reagan left his post at Rice after coordinating the Owls’ offense in a 41-24 victory against Marshall in the Conference USA championship game to return to KU. He was not on hand to try to help the overmatched Owls in a 44-7 loss to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.
Charlie Strong: Coming off a 12-1 season capped by a 36-9 demolition of Miami (Fla.), the Louisville coach takes over for ousted Mack Brown at Texas. It wasn’t the first time he interviewed for a Big 12 job. Strong, then an assistant at South Carolina, was one of three candidates to have an in-person interview with then-KU athletic director Al Bohl, according to a former KU athletic department official. The Dec. 1, 2001 interview took place in Bohl’s home, later noted for Bohl’s dramatic “crushed me like a dove” driveway press conference in which the AD fingered basketball coach Roy Williams for his tenure ending. Strong and wife Vicki flew in and out of KCI the same day the interview took place.
Mark Dantonio: The Michigan State head coach had the season of his life, leading the Spartans to a No. 3 national ranking, a 13-1 record and a Rose Bowl championship earned in a 24-20 victory against rugged Stanford. A look at Dantonio’s resume might lead most to the conclusion that after four seasons as secondary coach under Glen Mason at Kansas (1991-94), Dantonio left for Michigan State because it had a better football program. Not so, according to multiple former KU staffers who say Mason showed Dantonio the door, opening an opportunity for him to work on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State.
J.B. Grimes: Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn took Grimes with him from Arkansas State to coach the offensive line. Auburn led the nation in rushing with Grimes, O-line coach at Kansas for Turner Gill’s two seasons, instructing the blockers.
Geneo Grissom: The former Hutch High defensive end turned teammate Eric Striker’s sack-fumble into a touchdown during No. 6 Oklahoma’s 45-31 upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Grissom, who has one season of eligibility remaining, also had two sacks of his own.
Grissom had made a verbal commitment to Kansas. After Mangino was fired, Grissom let it be known he would honor his commitment as long as linebackers coach Bill Miller was retained by the next staff. Miller was sent packing and Grissom signed with Oklahoma. Grissom started his OU career as a defensive end, was switched to tight end, then back to his original position. With the amazing hands he showed on a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Texas, it looks as if he might have been a good tight end too.
Tom Hayes: Defensive coordinator for Kansas State, winner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which is played not in Buffalo, rather in Tempe, Ariz. Hayes was KU’s defensive coordinator/secondary coach in 2001, when he took over as interim head coach for three games after Terry Allen was fired. Hayes interviewed for the head coaching job in Bohl’s home. During that interview, Bohl twice excused himself to take calls he received on his cell phone, according to former KU officials, who said they later learned those calls were from Mangino.