Survey says: KU football fans prefer Les Miles, identify him as most likely hire
When Jeff Long spoke publicly for the first time about his decision to find a new head football coach for the University of Kansas, the athletic director could only provide some general goals he had in mind for the hire.
“We are going to find a proven leader, a tenacious recruiter and a developer of young men on and off the field,” Long assured a downtrodden fan base. “As I have routinely said, we will break the cycle. My expectation is that the football program should be a bowl-bound program on a regular basis. I believe with the players currently in our program and the recruits who will commit in the coming months, we will be close to annual bowl berths and longterm competitiveness in the Big 12.”
Just whom Long ultimately will hire and whether that coach achieves all of the aforementioned criteria for success remains to be seen.
As his search continues, though, we now have a better sense of what type of expectations KU football followers have for the program’s 39th head coach.
This past week, more than 1,500 readers who visited KUsports.com and self-identified as KU football fans were selected at random to answer survey questions about the coaching search.
Here are the six inquiries posed, and the answers provided.
No. 1: KU is seeking a new football coach. Following is a list of coaches frequently mentioned as candidates for the job. Which coach do you most prefer?
A week into KU’s coaching search, 51.1% of fans would be more partial to Long hiring former LSU and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles, the man most often tied with the opening thus far.
North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, a former KU assistant (2002-05) who grew up outside of Kansas City, was the only other potential candidate with significant fan backing, at 25.1%.
No. 2: Setting aside your personal preferences, which of the following coaches do you think has the highest probability of becoming the next KU coach?
An even greater percentage of fans (59.1%) thought Miles will end up being the coach Long actually hires.
And the runner up wasn’t even close. North Texas head coach Seth Littrell garnered 11.4% of the votes.
No. 3: Some of the coaches listed as candidates for the KU job run the triple-option offense. What's your reaction to the possibility of KU running the triple option offense?
If KU were to take the zig while everyone else is zagging approach and bring in a head coach, such as Army’s Jeff Monken or Tulane’s Willie Fritz, with a background in the run-heavy triple option attack, it seems most fans would be all right with that — as long as it proved effective.
Although only 13% of those surveyed specifically wanted that drastic stylistic switch, almost half of the respondents (48.8%) said a triple-option scheme wouldn’t bother them if it worked for the Jayhawks and produced victories.
However, 17.1% of fans think the triple option won’t work in the Big 12.
No. 4: Given the KU football program's recent struggles, what is a realistic record to expect of a new coaching staff in 2019?
Unless this year’s Jayhawks find a way to upset either Oklahoma or Texas in the next two weeks, the program will finish the season with three or fewer wins for the ninth consecutive season.
However, with a regime change imminent, most KU football fans anticipate 2019 being the first year with four or more wins since Mark Mangino left.
A 4-8 season was the most popular projected record choice, receiving 43% of the votes. Some fans are looking for even better — 13% expect a 5-7 campaign and 4.8% think at least 6 wins and bowl eligibility is a realistic goal.
No. 5: KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said he expects KU football to be bowl-bound on a regular basis. When should the new coach be expected to return KU to a bowl game?
Even so, it looks like most of the KU football fan base isn’t about to demand instant success for the Jayhawks’ next head coach.
Only 3.9% of fans surveyed expect the new coach to lead Kansas to the postseason in his first year on the job.
In fact, the 2021 season received the most votes (43%) for the year the yet-to-be-hired coach should deliver a bowl bid. Another 39.1% of fans would like to see the Jayhawks in the postseason by 2020.
No. 6: Kansas has the lowest paid head coach in the Big 12 at $1.7 million per year. What annual salary range do you expect KU to pay its next football coach?
Whomever Long lands, KU fans expect the first-year AD will have enough financial support from donors in place to pay the football coach significantly more than the $1.7 million base salary David Beaty’s contract called for this year.
Among the respondents, 42.6% think KU should pay the football coach in a range that could be double Beaty’s salary, somewhere between $3 million and $3.9 million annually.
Another 30.9% called for a less expensive number, between $2 million and $2.9 million.
— Now’s your chance. Pick KU football’s next head coach at our bracket: 2018 KU Football Coaching Search Bracket