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.
With the future of the Kansas football program in limbo, some Jayhawks on Wednesday night began publicly drumming up support for Emmett Jones to become the team’s next head coach.
The endorsements for Jones, KU’s third-year receivers coach, began hitting the Twittersphere hours after Jeff Long stepped down as athletic director and two days removed from KU parting ways with Les Miles.
Having those two mammoth vacancies coincide made what will come next for the head coaching position all the more unpredictable, perhaps prompting players to voice their preference for Jones.
The social media movement began with freshman cornerback Jacobee Bryant tweeting, “(Jones) for head coach.” That simple recommendation picked up backing in the form of quote tweets from KU safety Kenny Logan Jr., as well as cornerback Valerian Agbajw Jr.
One of Jones’ position players, sixth-year senior Kwamie Lassiter II, also made his thoughts on the matter clear, posting, “Put Jones in that spot and (let’s) get to it!” Lassiter’s tweet was soon after retweeted by running back Velton Gardner, receiver Takulve “T.K.” Williams, defensive end Marcus Harris and other Jayhawks.
More calls for Jones, who also serves as KU's passing game coordinator, to take over would follow, too. Receiver Lawrence Arnold wrote, “As a player at KU we need a coach in office right now that (knows) the players and (has) a relationship with the players.” Jones followed that opinion with a hashtag in support of Jones.
De’Kedrick Sterns, a freshman offensive tackle who just enrolled at KU this semester, shared a similar tweet to Arnold’s.
Yet another receiver, Luke Grimm, posted a game photo of him and Jones, with the caption, “Y’all know what to do.”
On Tuesday, before he left KU, Long stated he planned on naming an interim head coach within the next couple of days. While the specifics of the new plan and timetable for naming an interim haven’t yet been made public, it’s likely KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and Kurt Watson, a KU alumnus and prominent donor whom Girod named interim A.D., will decide with current KU assistant will be the interim head coach.
It might be as soon as a few weeks, per Girod, that KU has a new athletic director in place. But it won’t be until then that the next steps for finding the permanent KU football coach will be solidified.