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With new AD in place, KU football players continue to back Emmett Jones

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Kansas football interim head coach Emmett Jones addresses the Jayhawks at the team's indoor practice facility on March 30, 2021, the first day of KU's spring practice schedule.

Kansas football interim head coach Emmett Jones addresses the Jayhawks at the team's indoor practice facility on March 30, 2021, the first day of KU's spring practice schedule.

The University of Kansas athletics department filled one of its two major vacancies on Monday, as Travis Goff became the new athletic director. And while Goff’s plan for the KU football job remains to be seen, several Jayhawks didn’t waste any time backing interim head coach Emmett Jones.

The Jayhawks started spring practices under Jones’ guidance last week, and the popular assistant, who is now in his third year as the receivers coach, impressed the players.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they just stay with him as the head coach,” super-senior linebacker Kyron Johnson told reporters last week, “because he’s just great like that.”

Goff will have time to observe Jones and the KU football program through much of the spring schedule if he so chooses, having missed only the earliest sessions. But some players, who don’t yet know the new AD’s intentions, made sure via social media Monday evening to let their voices be heard.

One of the first Jayhawks to endorse Jones on Twitter this week was redshirt freshman tight end Will Huggins, who wrote that Jones “is my head coach.”

And it wasn’t long before other players weighed in. Sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. posted: “I’m all the way in with (Jones) this season,” adding, “we got who we need over here.”

Sophomore receiver Luke Grimm’s message read: “Gotta keep rolling with Jones.”

Veteran leaders backed the assistant, who also serves as KU’s passing game coordinator, as well. Junior safety Kenny Logan Jr. proclaimed: “I’m rocking with (Jones) all the way,” and “we rolling right now.”

Super-senior receiver Kwamie Lassiter II, who has learned from Jones for two-plus years and emerged as a key contributor, wrote, “We trynna ride out (with) Jones.”

The support for Jones from the players was no surprise, as a nearly identical outpouring came a few weeks ago, after former AD Jeff Long stepped down.

A tweet Monday night from redshirt freshman running back Amauri Pesek-Hickson seemed to sum up the way many players feel at this uncertain time for the program.

“Coach Jones is the perfect fit for this team,” Pesek-Hickson wrote. “We want him as our head coach.”

Goff is set to have an introductory press conference on Wednesday morning.

None by Daniel Hishaw Jr.

None by Luke Grimm

None by Kennylogan1️⃣🎋

None by KJ

None by JB1🌐

None by AP23

None by Will Huggins

Comments

Dale Rogers 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It just makes sense to give Jones a chance to prove his chops this next season. Give Jones the opportunity to make or break his future as HC at Kansas.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What exactly makes sense about a passing coordinator that had the lowest passing stats in the Big XII being our HC.

Is it him being passed over for offensive coordinator just a couple of months ago?

Is it that he hasn't had any experience in play calling?

What is it that makes sense?

Armen Kurdian 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In fairness, we had no good quarterbacks, and our best receiver quit the team, as did our best running back. That doesn't help.

Brett McCabe 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Love the enthusiasm and love that the players are showing their coach. No matter what happens, Jones will remain on staff. His recruiting alone has earned him that.

Based on how KU handled the AD search, and on information in Matt and Benton’s previous articles, I think that we will see a nationwide coaching search led by the search firm used for Goff’s hiring.

No need to rush the hire because spring ball will be done on all campuses this month.

We need a coach by May 1ish to start heavy recruiting, get a staff in place and prepare for summer. We cannot step backwards in recruiting. Though Miles’ classes weren’t exceptional, they were solid. They present a foundation to build upon.

If we want to get out of this ditch, we have to stop digging deeper and taking backwards steps. At the very least we need a solid, top 40 class this year. It’s hard to imagine achieving that goal with an interim head coach.

I’m 100% in favor of giving Jones a look during the interview process. But we don’t need to hold tryouts. We need to select a guy and get going.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with giving Coach Jones the reins and seeing how it works out over the next couple of seasons. It's a safe choice for the new AD too as Jones was not selected by him but gives him the chance to succeed.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

How is making a WR coach/Passing Coordinator a "safe choice"?

About 2 or 3 months ago we were searching for an offensive coordinator and he wasn't selected then, what makes him the head coach material now?

Doug Roberts 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Jones seems kike a great guy and well-liked by everyone, but it would be CRAZY to give him the job. He has no college head coaching experience. Remember the last time KU hired a well-liked position coach? KU is in no position to take a chance on a feel good story that they HOPE works out. We can't miss on another head coach.

In my opinion Lance Leipold looks like the best fit. He led a very successful div. II program, and is doing the same with Buffalo. He has proven he can build a program. THAT is what KU needs. Someone who has done it before.

If not Leipold, then KU needs to hire a coach who is a proven builder of programs.

Keep Jones on as "associate head coach" or something to keep the recruiting lines going and appease the current players who like Jones.

We can't take chances on who MIGHT be a good head coach anymore.

Glen Miller 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Jones is a valuable asset to our program. If they don't keep him as HC, someone else will snatch him up. Mark my words. Also, if they don't keep him as coach and ignore their players, we will have more players in the transfer portal than on our roster. Not saying that means to just give him the job, but you need to listen wo what the players who are still here have to say. They deserve that much.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Who is going after him? He had the lowest two years of passing in the Big XII. He was passed over when we were looking for a new offensive coordinator. Don't make it seem like this is a clear cut choice, this is a passive choice with little vision of the future. I haven't seen anyone seeking him out until they needed an interim head coach.

This is a very big project and a first year head coach with no offensive or defensive coordinator experience is going to have a difficult time taking this on.

Glen Miller 6 months, 2 weeks ago

All you have to do is go read now and again to understand that we gave him a promotion and bump in salary just last year to not lose him. Teams have been knocking on his door since he got here. I'm not saying to be head coach, but to be a recruiter and assistant. If you don't think this guy can recruit, just look at the kids he's brought in. Also, hard to blame the passing game problems all on Jones when we had a line that couldn't block and QB's who couldn't get receivers the ball. You don't have to agree, but to me... losing Jones would cost us dearly.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We added a passing coordinator title to his responsibility and we regressed in the passing game when we did that.

Our number one receiver regressed and transferred after two years under his helm.

Glen Miller 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Still doesn't mean it's all on his shoulders. Sorry, but to be so literal is to be very narrow minded. There are many factors that led to our offense being awful. I could argue that the year before last, our passing game was pretty damn good and it had a lot to do with the receivers, which is the position group he was in charge of that season.

John Strayer 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If the players want Jones...then they need to figure out how to get some W's if the interim tag last through the 2021 season.

Brett McCabe 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Leipold is certainly a strong candidate. There are no sure things in Kansas football, but a guy who has rebuilt a program must be near the top of the list.

In terms of player loyalty, I doubt that many, if any players would transfer. If you keep Jones on staff, zero players would transfer. And he makes a ton of sense as part of the next staff from a continuity standpoint. And I doubt that the next head coach has a WR coach-in-mind that he absolutely must have in order to take the KU job.

We will all know the answer tomorrow at about 10:30 am. The AD interview process would have went deep into the plans for football, so I don’t expect him to shy away from what his plans are in terms of a coaching search.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting that a hopeful suggestion here is for a D2 coach and Buffalo coach because the last WR Coach failed to be a HC. It’s a shame the logic isn’t applied consistently, because I believe we have a history of a D2 coach (Allen) and a Buffalo coach (Gill) both failing. If Jones will fail because Beaty did, then we also need to look past all the other failed coaches including Leipold.

The good news is Travis has a history of overseeing football and a rebuilt program. I would expect him to meet all the major players and players inside and out of the program. We are so late in the coaching cycle, it would seem more harm than good to make a change now. The team is building towards the season now. Making a change now is just undoing the off-season of development and hamstringing the new coaches.

The other fly in the ointment of change is the state of the program and interest of other coaches. There seems to be this assumption that all the other coaches are out there just waiting to be our savior. It shouldn’t be a news flash that others have seen our mess and aren’t interested. The current crew is fully invested. This is Travis’ mulligan year.

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 2 weeks ago

your argument for sticking with Emmett through this season is the best I've heard.

Frankly I can't really picture the new AD not trying to hire a football coach ASAP. That said, maybe it would be wise to ride the interim coach into the fall and see how things are shaping up by the time the pool of available head coach candidates starts to grow again.

Like you said, he gets a free pass for football results this year.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If Goff had come in and said, I'm going to punt the decision to make a head coaching choice until next year because I have a free year in football, do you really think he would be the AD today?

He came in and said a perspective about football. I'm guessing he believes he can get a coach in the door at KU and will have a staff ready to go.

He didn't take the job to be passive, he took the job to move it forward.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

When Les Miles had an opening for offensive coordinator, he went straight to Jones to fill that role...Oh wait no he didn't. The truth of the matter is Jones would be over his head as an offensive coordinator, let alone as a head coach. He hasn't called plays (at least Beaty had that on his resume), other than that Jones and Beaty have the same resume (except that Beaty had 2 top 7 rated recruiting classes, when he was the recruiting coordinator at TAM).

My point is we need a coach, and Jones isn't even coordinator material, let alone head coach (right now).

Like Les Miles had Dearmon as a "Head Coach in Waiting", there are options for Jones in the future, but this job is way too difficult for a first time coach that hasn't been an offensive or defensive coordinator.

I'd like Leipold from what I've seen, but Buffalo makes me nervous because of the last coach we hired from there. Fritz is a good fit as well. Monken I don't like the offensive scheme for the Big 12. Randy Shannon would be a good and surprising choice.

Not sure, but we do need a coach, and unfortunately, I don't think Jones is quite ready for that transition (yet).

Brett McCabe 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Dirk, your logic is all over the place. How is Leipold a failed coach? Gill was from Buffalo so a coach can never be hired from there again? You remember he had a very average, short career there, right?

What do you think of Matt Campbell? How about Gary Pinkel?

And there is a big difference between Jones and Beaty: one guy has already been here for two years. Not that I am lobbying for him, but at least pretend to be balanced in your statements.

Bottom line is this: two guys have succeeded here in 40 years. There aren’t any guarantees. But you can help yourself with this hire by playing some odds.

As to Monken, Paul Johnson went to a lot of bowl games at Georgia Tech with that offense. It works. No matter the league, if you have the right coach.

Robert Brock 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Jones is no more qualified than Beaty was - and that turned out to be a disaster. Jones would be a solid assistant head coach to somebody that has had HC D1 experience.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry for the confusion Brett. “Failed coaches” should have been in quotes as the logic would indicate. We should pass on Jones because Beaty was a WR coach and failed as our HC. We should pass on Leipold because Allen was a successful D2 coach and failed as our HC. We should pass on Leipold because Gill was from Buffalo and failed as our HC.

It’s not that I think the logic is good, but that applying it consistently shows how flawed it is. Jones is not destined to fail because Beaty did.

The good news is that Travis wouldn’t be punting the decision til next year if he keeps Jones. It is already next year. Halfway through it even. The next 6 months are about meeting everyone and evaluating while working his existing network and maybe even discretely using the same search firm to find possible candidates (vs. public wish lists).

People will commonly talk about the first recruiting class being a mulligan for a new coach because they get a late start - in November! Somehow though, it will work out in this scenario with only half a year?

It’s also not a given that Jones stays around if a new coach is hired. It shouldn’t take any memory cells at all to realize that.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Jeff - How many HC do you think call the plays? I’m not sure but I’m guessing it is very few on O or D. That’s why they have coordinators and a bevy of assistants. Their role is big picture. One of Beaty’s failures was the year of letting his OC wander around while he tried unsuccessfully to do both. There was a time when that was a criticism at OSU and elsewhere. Jones currently has an experienced OC hopefully capable of calling plays though recent experience says that is not a given.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Most have called plays in their career to give them experience on that aspect of the game, if they came from the offensive side of the game.

For instance, individual player coaches, most have done, so they know how one is taught at the position. Then they have recruiting experience, because that is key to gaining insight on the process. Then they have usually a cross experience between multiple positions. Then they become coordinators usually on defense or offense, so they learn how to game plan and to call the game. Ultimately, this gives them perspective on the big picture of coaching when they become a head coach.

I don't follow all head coaches, but Lincoln Riley, Charlie Weis, Herm Edwards, Andy Reid, Sean McVay, Kalani Sitake, Steve Sarkisian, Kliff Kingsbury, Mike Leach. I'm sure there are others, call their own game as head coaches.

Randy Bombardier 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We can keep Jones AND take advantage of the opportunity to be the only one hiring. This us huge. If you refuse to see that you haven't been watching the coaching searches very closely. We have had and will continue to have low interest because of our penchant for hiring and firing every two years.

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