4 things to know about KU football's upcoming coaching search
The echo of applause from the Kansas University football players celebrating Sunday's announcement of Clint Bowen as their new interim head coach has barely silenced and the past 36 hours have been more about getting their feet under them than moving into the future.
So, no, KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has not spent a ton of time in the past two days worrying about the coaching search for which he'll have plenty of time during the coming months.
After pulling the trigger to dismiss the man he had hired for the job just under three years ago, Zenger took time out to breathe on Monday and thoroughly seemed to enjoy the reaction to Bowen's promotion, some of which was emotional and some a surprise.
There is still work to do for both Bowen and Zenger, but both deserved the chance to smile and celebrate on Monday.
Today, Bowen and the Jayhawks will dive full-speed into game prep for West Virginia — 3 p.m. Saturday in Morgantown — and Zenger will go back to his normal routine as well.
With that in mind, here are four things you should know about the KU coaching search, whenever it begins....
1. It has not started yet nor does Zenger already have “his guy” lined up and an agreement in place. Reports to the contrary are simply premature and a reach. It's far too early for that and, many of the most legitimate candidates on his wish list are busy coaching for other programs. Last time, when he hired Charlie Weis, Zenger hit the road right after the season ended and did not return home for almost three weeks. He had to hurry then. Recruiting hung in the balance and he needed a coach and staff to lead the Jayhawks into the offseason. The urgency is not as strong this time and so Zenger will take his time. He's got a clear idea of what he wants — and maybe more importantly what he doesn't — and will gladly talk to coaches who may be interested should they want to chat. But the heavy lifting in the search has yet to begin and may not start for some time.
2.Clint Bowen is absolutely, 100 percent a real candidate for the job. He would have been even without the interim tag and Monday's incredible reception. And that's because he's put in his time with this program, he has won at Kansas as a player and a coach and he, probably more than anyone on the planet, wants to make KU a winner again in a very bad way. You just don't overlook a guy like that, especially when it's one who is qualified, has proven himself to be a solid assistant coach and coordinator and is already sitting there under your nose.
3.Mark Mangino is not on our coaching search list and, barring the miracle of all miracles, he's not coming back. I understand the appeal. I get why people would love to have the big guy back. But it's not worth holding your breath over. Mangino may have been let go unfairly, but what's done is done and, fair or not, there was an investigation into his treatment of his players, there was a settlement reached between KU and Mangino, and attempting to bring him back could come with some significant risk for KU. In a perfect world, he might be the perfect candidate. But there are too many imperfect factors that make that very hard to see.
4.There's no doubt that making the move to fire Weis four games into the season gives Zenger some time to find his next head coach, but this move was not made for Zenger to have more time. It was not made for Bowen to get a hero's welcome. It was not even made just to move on without Weis in the head coach's office. It was made for the players. 100 percent, no questions asked. Zenger truly believes that this roster has talent and that the staff in place can lead them to better days. Now they get their chance on their terms. John Reagan can call whatever offense he wants and use whatever players he sees fit. Bowen can do things the Jayhawk way and the way he's always known to work. And the rest of the coaches will get a ton of freedom and support from Bowen to coach the way they coach as long as they're willing to work hard and within the framework of the blueprint Bowen talked about Monday. It's a tough deal to completely shift gears like this at this point in the season and Bowen knows that. That's why he's going to lean on his talented staff as much as possible to help make the transition as smooth as it can be.