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Impressive football coaches have wanted Kansas job for past three openings

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Richard Gwin/Journal World.Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren keeps a eye on the plays as KU tied up the game late in the 2nd quarter.

Richard Gwin/Journal World.Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren keeps a eye on the plays as KU tied up the game late in the 2nd quarter.

So how did it come to this? How did a Kansas football program that won the Orange Bowl with a 12-1 record just 10 seasons ago, tumble so far?

One wrong-headed coaching firing and one poor hire by former athletic director Lew Perkins and two poor hires by current AD Sheahon Zenger caused the avalanche.

Well, no kidding, Captain Obvious.

Perkins met with Jim Harbaugh, who has said that the AD would not let him coach Stanford in its bowl game. Perkins has denied that to friends. So Perkins, who could have had former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, hired Turner Gill and Zenger fired him with a 5-19 record.

A number of qualified coaches expressed interest at that point. Dave Doeren, who recruited Aqib Talib, James McClinton and many other standouts working for Mark Mangino, desperately wanted his dream job. He not only had Wisconsin defensive coordinator on his resume, but he was winning big at Northern Illinois. Zenger made the mistake of not hiring him and Doeren’s now 7-3 at North Carolina State, heading for his fourth consecutive bowl game, after inheriting a poor roster that went 3-9 his first season. I always felt as if Doeren’s aggressiveness in pursuing the job was held against him when it should have counted in his favor.

Instead of Doeren, Zenger hired Charlie Weis and fired him with a 6-22 record. Doeren took great satisfaction in beating Weis' Jayhawks in 2012.

Zenger had worked with Justin Fuente at Illinois State and might have hired him to replace Weis. We’ll never know. What we do know is that the then-chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little took that option away from him because she decided Kansas would not be paying any buyouts for football coaches. Fuente’s buyout was $500,000. He’s now doing very well at Virginia Tech, where his buyout is $15 million.

Former Mark Mangino assistant Ed Warinner wanted the Kansas job and Zenger appeared super high on him after having dinner with him in Columbus, Ohio, during a Kansas basketball trip. Warinner then was co-offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer and now is offensive line coach at Minnesota.

Somewhere along the way, Beaty passed Warinner on Zenger's list of prospects. A strict disciplinarian with a head coach's personality who produced phenomenal rushing numbers as OC at Army and record-breaking passing numbers as OC at Kansas, doesn't interview well, but knows how to communicate with football players to make them produce efficiently and cleanly. He will win as a head coach if ever given the chance.

Zenger’s final decision came down to Troy Calhoun of Air Force and Beaty. In the end, Beaty’s potential to recruit the state of Texas was the deciding factor in Zenger selecting him.

Comments

Matthew Gaylor 6 days, 11 hours ago

And yet, the next time the job comes open, almost no one will want it. And because Zenger won't be fire, the job won't come open for another year or 2, when KU is back in the position when Beaty took over

Pius Waldman 6 days, 10 hours ago

A rather good explanation about what could have happened about selecting a football coach. As usual hind sight or after the fact is easily easier to determine results. Thinking back to Weis many were impressed with his background. Offensive coordinator at the pros and major colleges as well as head at Notre Dame. That required a huge paying contract. Later we found out he wasn't getting the results so he was fired. Yes that was a mistake but consider the feeling when he was hired. Yes it appears Beaty is not showing improvement so far but does he get additional time to show his ability. If not a new coach would have the same problems. RECRUITING better players is the requirement for success. Especially a quarterback is the key. As for the AD a change would not guarantee football success. To say he has the total responsibility for hiring a new coach might be misleading. Generally it is a team approach and decision. But in many cases it is the head guy gets the ax. The new chancellor is giving more time for success that might be great or maybe not. Only time will tell.

Brad Avery 6 days, 10 hours ago

The university has a history of horrible decisions in regard to football coaches, perhaps beginning with choosing Jack Mitchell, a former KU quarterback, instead of Bob Devaney who was at Wyoming at the time and made Nebraska a national champion. If that was the worst decision, keeping Beaty is probably number two.

Brett McCabe 6 days, 10 hours ago

And Craig Bohl is 7-3 at Wyoming right now. We could avoid making the same mistake by making that call.

Jim Stauffer 4 days, 16 hours ago

Some say that call has been made and he was not interested at all. Bohl, that is.

John Fitzgerald 6 days, 10 hours ago

All names that are now successful at their current programs. Again, the naysayers are complaining that no one will want the job because we're firing coaches every 2-3 years. But the firing is not the issue, it's the hiring.

Drew Matthews 6 days, 8 hours ago

Exactly! Some people do not seem to understand this concept. If you make two bad hires in a row at a company do you just tolerate the poor performance and hope they get better after 3 years? I think not.

Brett McCabe 6 days, 9 hours ago

For those who still champion the idea that the problem is coaching turnover. Let's review the facts:

Gill: Zenger fired Gill after two seasons. Weiss: Zenger fired Weis after two seasons-plus. That's two firings for Zenger. Zero for the fans.

If you think KU fans are impatient, remember that Terry Allen was given a full run. True, it was a different time, but the key is that Allen had actually proven something as a coach before coming to Kansas. So, he was given the benefit of the doubt.

Turner Gill had proven almost nothing at Buffalo. Charlie Weis had proven that he could get fired at Notre Dame. David Beaty had proven that he couldn't get promoted to coordinator at A&M, whose head coach is going to get fired in two weeks.

The reason KU fans have been impatient, other than historically bad football over the past three coaches, is that we've never been presented with a coach with any credentials. The fact that Zenger thought Weis equaled a power-surge is just downright idiotic. The fact that he entrusted a complete rebuild to a guy who had never done any rebuilding is so strange that it borders on the bizarre.

Had Dave Doreen been hired, he'd been given five years by the fan base, no problem. Had Craig Bohl been hired, he'd have been given plenty of time and leeway. Give me a coach who actually comes to the table with a resume, and I'll give you five years of fandom. As will 90% of your fan base.

Keep hiring guys who shouldn't even be granted interviews, and you just might create impatience among your core football fans. And historical records of incompetence on the field, just for good measure.

Kevin Robert Fest 6 days, 9 hours ago

I never liked the Gil, Weis, or Beaty hires, l always wondered why a bigger name, better coach, more experienced coach couldn't be found. Now I know why. It was clear from the get go Gil/Beaty seemed over their heads, Weis never seemed to care period. It was clear after year 2 for Gil and Weis that the team wasn't improving, but after year 3 its not so clear for Beaty? Gil and Weis had better records in less games but Beaty is still seen as the savior of the program? Im more depressed after reading this article knowing who was actually interested. Ill be more depressed after the next 2 weekends of God awful KU Football.

Brett Gaul 6 days, 8 hours ago

Ugh, this makes me sick that we could have had any of those coaches.

Waylon Cook 6 days, 8 hours ago

Fedora while down this year(not KU down, because he competes) waited by phone until Weis was hired.

What about Chryst? While he would have went back to Wisky a year later. We would still be in better shape than after a year of Weis.

Dave Coen 6 days, 8 hours ago

Brett McCabe, I agree with you. Coaching instability is not the problem. It is the hiring that is the problem. Arkansas State, my wife's alma mater, has a history of replacing their head football coach frequently after one season. They are replaced not because they are bad but because ASU hires well and their coaches are lured to bigger programs.

As far as no quality coach wanting the job, I believe that is defeatist thinking. A good coach believes in himself and knows he can show progress by year three. They would see KU as an opportunity in which any progress would be well received by the fan base-high upside, low downside. No good coach would believe, "I can't take that job because I will be fired after year three." Good coaches know they will show progress in year three. Ask Coach Bill Snyder. Similar thinking would have had Bill Self turning down the KU basketball job because there was no way he could match Roy Williams' success. Coach Self believed in himself, took the job, he is a great coach and he probably never doubted it.

I am not a historian, but I believe President Lincoln fired numerous successive Generals for incompetence. Thankfully, he kept it up until he found a fighter and military genius named General Grant. I doubt that General Grant thought, "Gee, I can't take that job because President Lincoln will fire me after one year." Grant was a fighter and he knew how to win. Oh, and he did exactly that.

I am sure there is a coach out there that has a proven track record of pursuing and attaining excellence and would not hesitate to take the job. Oh, and they would show progress after year three.

Kevin Robert Fest 6 days, 8 hours ago

So Dave you dont think that Beaty believed in himself and had confidence he could do the job? Now look. Bad argument.

Dave Coen 6 days, 8 hours ago

Kevin, you are making my point. There will always be coaches that believe in themselves and will take the job. Coaching instability is a bad argument for NOT making a change. KU has done a poor job of hiring quality coaches with a proven record of success. Again, reference Arkansas State University.

Kerby Rice 6 days, 8 hours ago

It sounds like nothing will happen in 2017 at this point. Progressing forward a year to 2018 if no progress is shown, I think a name to keep in mind would be Seth Littrell at North Texas. He took over following a 1-11 season in 2015, went 5-8 his first year, and is 7-3 this year with games remaining against Army and Rice (a likely for sure win). I have not heard or seen his name much on the boards. He was a GA at Kansas to start his career and although he has only been there 2 years (3 following next year) will have both Kansas ties and Texas recruiting roots.

Gunnar Hays 6 days, 7 hours ago

That is a really good suggestion. I believe after Kansas he was also a part of Mike Leach's staff at Texas Tech. Relatively new to the head coaching role, but his ties to the Big 12 and recent success of North Texas will probably have him getting some phone calls. If not from KU, he might be a prospect for Tech as well should they part ways with Kliff.

Kevin Robert Fest 6 days, 7 hours ago

But Dave if the program is no better in year 3 then in year 1 how long can you just keep letting things go on as they are because you don't want to make ANOTHER coaching change? Bad program with bad coaching with no improvement or change and hope that the next hire is better? There is no way Beaty can pull out of this nosedive. The wings have fallen off and the engines have stalled. His in game decisions alone along with 100 other things will keep any decent recruit away. He got rid if his first OC after one year, basically took over the job in the middle of the first year. Tried to be borh OC and Special teams coach at the same time along with headcoach. Shows favoritism to new players and has no loyalty to the ones already in the program putting in the work. The Bender Stanley crap in spring ball was sad. He was gushing over Bender even though he hadn't played a down for KU and basically gave him the job without any real showing of talent, but Stanley had some games under his belt in the system. Oh he said the right things but you knew no matter what come hell or high water Bender was getting the job. If Beaty had his way Bender would still be starting now Stanley isn't much better but if the JUCO QB he is currently recruiting comes to KU let me guess who starts next year.

He preaches getting high school kids to let them grow in the program but how many JUCOs has he sigBut Dave if the program is no better in year 3 then in year 1 how long can you just keep letting things go on as they are because you don't want to make ANOTHER coaching change? Bad program with bad coaching with no improvement or change and hope that the next hire is better? There is no way Beaty can pull out of this nosedive. The wings have fallen off and the engines have stalled. His in game decisions alone along with 100 other things will keep any decent recruit away. He got rid if his first OC after one year, basically took over the job in the middle of the first year. Tried to be borh OC and Special teams coach at the same time along with headcoach. Shows favoritism to new players and has no loyalty to the ones already in the program putting in the work. The Bender Stanley crap in spring ball was sad. He was gushing over Bender even though he hadn't played a down for KU and basically gave him the job without any real showing of talent, but Stanley had some games under his belt in the system. Oh he said the right things but you knew no matter what come hell or high water Bender was getting the job. If Beaty had his way Bender would still be starting now Stanley isn't much better but if the JUCO QB he is currently recruiting comes to KU let me guess who starts next year.

He preaches getting high school kids to let them grow in the program but how many JUCOs has he signed lately. He changes his mind minute to minute. ned lately. He is desperate and his decisions will only get worse.

Dave Coen 6 days, 6 hours ago

Kevin, you need to read my post again. I strongly believe KU should make a coaching change at the end of this season. My argument is against those people who maintain, KU should NOT make a change because it will cause coaching instability. I do not agree with this defeatist thinking. There are good coaches with a proven track record of pursuing and achieving excellence that KU can hire that will show progress by year three.

John Brazelton 6 days, 6 hours ago

So many experts! You all must make millions of dollars as college football hiring consultants!!!

No Yard Left Behind 4 days, 12 hours ago

John, what do you say to KC star that has the same line of thinking? What about in Topeka or Wichita where everyone else thinks the same thing? PLEASE, let us all know what kind of expert you are, because your comments are completely rooted in emotions and not facts. I'm calling you out John, let us know how we're all wrong about Beaty/Zenger and while you're at it, share what makes you an expert!

Layne Pierce 6 days, 6 hours ago

Fact is, Stanley is a leader. The team just plays better when he is there. He doesn't quit,and with him the team doesn't either. QB is a lot more than a strong arm and a fast release.

I kept hoping that Beatty was going to start using the players he has because after 3 years, he should know them. Fact is, he is still trying to put the square peg in the round hole, and it isn't working.

A new QB every year, the spread offense, ...gimmiks, gimmicks, gimmicks. Get Glen Mason in as AD, then you will get a real football hire, and you will have an AD, and a head coach, who really know what it takes to build a program, and believe me it won't be gimmicks.

An empty stadium, drop division 1 football, hell, drop football altogether, playing in the American Conference along with WSU. That is where we are heading, ladies and gentlemen. There is a giant hole in the USS KU, and we are sinking fast.

Rock Chalk

Marc Frey 5 days, 14 hours ago

As I read this article it reminds me of some Professional NBA/MLB. and NFL teams in that they go through the motions of hiring coaches, signing players, marketing the team, but really have no intention on winning or building a "franchise". For the Majors, its about the bottom line, payroll, and cheap ownership. At KU? It almost seems intentional that we made the worst choice of a hire each time. Maybe the Basketball Program does not want the competition after all?

Christopher Gartner 5 days, 13 hours ago

While a native Kansan, Jack Michell didn’t play QB at KU. He was instead an All-American QB at OU.

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