Survey says: KU football fans prefer Les Miles, identify him as most likely hire


Kansas athletic director Jeff Long watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan. by Nick Krug

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 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


Dane Pratt 10 months, 1 week ago

If I’m Seth Littrell I’m steering clear of KU. It’s way too risky for your next stepping stone. I would donate one of my kidneys for Dave Doeren.

Doug Wallace 10 months, 1 week ago

I want someone who can win and get things done!

I wouldn't mind Les Miles, but here is another name is not mentioned but could be out there Lane Kiffin!Where is he in the survey?

Len Shaffer 10 months, 1 week ago

Anyone who thinks ANY new coach can win four or more games next year is crazy.

Remember that Beaty got a lot of juco transfers both this year and last year and that the new coach would be starting with only ONE recruit having verbally committed for next year.

In addition, a lot of our best players were seniors, so the cupboard will be awfully bare for a new coach to start with.

I think three wins next year would be a good season. This is going to take some time.

Jim Stauffer 10 months, 1 week ago

Any new coach who cannot win 4 games next year with the roster he will have is not worthy of the job. He will be another DB. This roster is in the best shape it has been since '09. Now the following year he will likely take one step back due to the roster losing a high number of seniors, but next year is the best prospect until 2021.

Jack Hoff 10 months, 1 week ago

Spot on Jim! Roster is in good shape for next year! A good hire might be able to bring in some impact freshman recruits as well. Pretty much all of the jucos Beaty recruited had 4 years to play 3 seasons so that's a big difference from what Weis did. We still have 2 more years with most of the juco recruits.

Dane Pratt 10 months ago

The condition of our roster is the million dollar question. At present there are 112 players on the roster, 25 are seniors and 22 are juniors. Have no idea what this will look like at the start of next season since a coaching change will likely affect those numbers. We have only one commit but signing day is not until February so there is time to change that. If the roster is as you say the best it’s been since 2009 then Beaty has made progress.

Craig Carson 10 months, 1 week ago

I might be alone in this, but I dont think Miles is the his age, he might only wanna coach for another 5 years or so...I feel KU is going after him because of his name..similar to Weiss..KU needs a younger coach...they need to have what KSU has had these last 25+ years with Snyder..they need a long term coach who can change the culture and expectation of the not so sure that an aging coach is going to be up for such a massive challenge

Dane Pratt 10 months ago

You're not alone. I don't think he is another Charlie Weis but there is something Weis-like about him. His age for one. And I question his motivation. Charlie thought he was doing KU a favor by coming here and then proceeded to collect paychecks for his perceived superior football IQ. If Miles wants the job it needs to be for the right reason. That said, if he is the next coach I will be behind him 100 percent from the start.

Matt Gauntt 10 months, 1 week ago

All interesting stats on the votes, but if we have an Athletic Director that hires a coach based on the vote totals from an on-line survey, we have the wrong AD.

Robert Brock 10 months, 1 week ago

There is not much talent on the current roster. Don’t expect much next season.

Jack Hoff 10 months, 1 week ago

Still wonder how Bowen would have done had he been given the job 4 years ago as opposed to Beaty. Think we would have had much better luck with Kansas kids and he seemed to be a decent game day coach as well. I know everyone talks about Hull being groomed to be the next head coach in waiting but I still believe Bowen would be a better fit to lead of the program once it's back to a competitive level. His defense has been pretty good this year as well.

Chris Bailey 10 months ago

No. We gotta stop this home town hero stuff. Bowen isn't the guy to lead us to success.

Brian Wilson 10 months, 1 week ago

First, I felt, Miles has nothing to prove. That this would be a final paycheck and he just like Weis. But now, I don't think Miles would do that to Long.

Second, we may have a hard time getting a good young coach to come to KU. Why would anybody ruin their career at KU unless the jump in pay is enough. A lot of successful coached never get a shot at a Power 5 school. So, this is one reason I think TIM REBOWE of NICHOLS should be considered. REBOWE"S contract is low, he is a a level where he might not get many opportunities to move up, and a contract with KU would set him up for life. So taking a shot like that makes sense.

But, MILES make more sense for KU. Hire an older successful coach that is willing to put in the work and commitment to rebuild the program. If Miles were to retire from KU, the program re-established, KU will have the pick of who KU wants for a coach.

Curtis Hedrick 10 months, 1 week ago

Yes. Miles would be brought in to be the table setter. Get the program back on track, win a few games, and re-establish quality high school recruiting.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

It is also good to remember/realize that Beaty's low salary is still twice as much as when he started. I think the rest of the program budget is in the same realm. There was an article a while ago about one of the changes Saban brought from the NFL - the number of support staff. It allows the coaches to coach and not administrate. It is the part of the program most will never see or maybe even realize.

Jack Hoff 10 months ago

I haven't seen the name Todd Graham mentioned at all and boy looking at his resume I certainly think there is a case to be made that he would be a good fit for Kansas. Outside the box thinker on offense. Has won at multiple places and consistently makes bowl games. Good recruiting ties as well. Wouldn't at all be opposed to that hire.

Jack Hoff 10 months ago

He would need a good defensive coordinator though, cuz boy his defenses are typically bad. Perfect role for Bowen to stick around

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