Now that the NFL regular season is over, it’s time for all of those coaches who are or soon will become available to find new jobs.
More importantly, it’s time for Kansas University to fill out its football coaching staff.
The search for KU’s next defensive coordinator very much has resembled the search to land Charlie Weis as the school’s new head coach. Quiet, deliberate and full of speculation are just a few of the similarities. The other has been incredible interest from a suddenly football-crazed fan base.
I understand the excitement and the desire to know what’s happening. In many ways, I love it and think it’s exactly what KU football needs. But know this: Nobody knows definitively what’s going on with these hires right now. Maybe not even Weis.
This much we do know: Reggie Mitchell (RBs), Ron Powlus (QBs) and Tim Grunhard (OL) are in. Buddy Wyatt (DL) also seems safe. Beyond that, it looks like Bernie Parmalee (TEs) and Rob Ianello (WRs) will be joining Weis’ staff at some point in the near future. Both would be good hires because of their experience and familiarity with Weis and both figure to be solid on the recruiting trail.
There also has been some increased talk lately about the strength and conditioning job, with Florida assistant Scott Holsopple and former Notre Dame assistant Ruben Mendoza’s names popping up most often. The only hint I’ve been given here is that it’s not likely to be Mendoza.
As for the defensive coordinator position, it remains a mystery. An announcement could come as early as this week or still could be a couple of weeks away.
The only rock solid information I’ve been given about the job in the past few days is that Weis has been waiting for some dominoes to fall before he can actually move on this. I’m sure he’s been putting together lists and talking to whomever he can, but, in a lot of ways, his hands have been tied for the past couple of weeks.
So what dominoes could we be talking about here? Just about everything is on the table.
• Could have been waiting on a coach and/or coaches to get fired
• Could have been waiting for college team to play its bowl game
• Could have been waiting on NFL regular season to end
• Could still be waiting on NFL playoffs to end
The names that have come up most often here have been: Greg Manusky (San Diego DC), Mike Nolan (Miami DC), Al Groh (Georgia Tech DC), Romeo Crennel (interim coach at KC) and Jim Leavitt (San Francisco linebackers coach). As I’ve told you before, I’ve heard that Manusky, Nolan and Groh each were offered the job at some point. I’m not sure I believe that entirely, but that’s what I’m hearing. If that’s true, I don’t know the order of when each was offered.
I think Nolan will search for and find an NFL DC job, perhaps even with the new staff in Miami. I think staying in the NFL is his preference.
I think Manusky could still be in play here. Even if Norv Turner is retained by the Chargers, it looks like Manusky’s out in San Diego.
I also think that Jim Leavitt could still be in the mix. Early on, I was told he would not be a candidate. But that’s been three weeks ago now. Things change.
From where I sit, Leavitt would be by far the best hire Weis could make. He has a solid mix of NFL and college experience, knows Kansas, knows the Big 12 and could be the perfect guy to take over one day if this staff gets things rolling again.
The 49ers are slated to play their first game of the postseason on Saturday, Jan. 14, so if we’re waiting on Leavitt, we could be waiting a while. In fact, if this thing isn’t nailed down this week, I would think that the odds of it being Leavitt increase substantially.
If I had to rank that list in terms of who would be best, I'd go: 1. Leavitt, 2. Crennel, 3. Nolan, 4. Groh, 5. Manusky.
One more thing to mention before moving on, let’s make sure we take a lesson from the coaching search. All that speculation, all those lists, all wrong. Weis’ name was not being mentioned anywhere and he would up being the guy.
If that were to happen here, it would not surprise me at all. That’s just the nature of these types of hires. Charlie Weis is the only guy who knows completely what’s going on right now and he’s not talking.
So we wait. But don’t sweat it. I’ve been told by a couple of people who know how this works — guys who have been a part of it — that Weis could wait until March to hire his DC and it wouldn’t have a negative impact on the program.
Happy New Year, everyone. Is this going to be a fun year or what?
Oh, two more things:
First, don't forget that tomorrow (Jan. 3) is the day that South Bend, Ind., wide receiver Gehrig Dieter is supposed to announce his college decision.
And, second, although we still don't know which KU players won't be back next year, I'm hearing that it's more and more likely by the day that running back Darrian Miller will return.