More on KU football strength coach Je'Ney Jackson and where KU's coaching staff stands
By now, having read about, followed, experienced or agonized over three coaching searches since 2009, fans of Kansas University football certainly are no strangers to the hierarchy of what's important before, during and after a coaching change is made.
The before and during are behind us. KU named former Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty the 38th head coach in school history on Dec. 5, and, since then, Beaty has been running every which way trying to get things lined up for signing day in February and the start of spring football a month later.
Although the identity of a few of his staff members remains a mystery, sources have indicated that Beaty has nailed down most of the positions during the past couple of weeks.
Here's a quick recap of what we know:
• Clint Bowen – Holdover from former staff will be the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
• Reggie Mitchell – Another holdover from Weis' staff, it would make sense if Mitchell continued in his role as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
• Louie Matsakis – Another holdover from previous staff who finished 2014 by coaching KU's special teams will have a yet-to-be-determined role on new staff. Likely an administrative type of job.
• Kevin Kane – Former KU player who has worked at Wisconsin and Northern Illinois will coach linebackers.
• Gene Wier – Former Olathe North and Texas high school football coach will come on board in an off-the-field staff position.
• Klint Kubiak – 27-year-old son of NFL coach Gary Kubiak is the likely WRs coach.
• Calvin Thibodeaux – Former Oklahoma defensive end and Tulsa D-Line coach likely to coach KU's D-Line, as well.
• Je'Ney Jackson – Former KU assistant and Indiana basketball strength coach, will run KU football's strength and conditioning department.
• Justin Springer - Former KU linebacker, and another holdover from the previous strength staff, will stay on as a member of Jackson's crew.
As far as we know, KU essentially is still looking for four more names of full-time assistants and the following duties:
• Offensive coordinator
• Quarterbacks coach, which could very well be the OC
• Offensive line coach
• Tight ends coach
• Defensive backs coach, which could be Bowen
• Possibly a second defensive backs coach, if they split duties to safeties & corners
• Special teams coach, which could be lumped with another role, i.e. TEs/ST coach
Of the bunch that's already on board, Jackson may be the most important name we've heard thus far. Because Bowen and Mitchell were announced to be staying as soon as the Beaty hire was official, those guys are not included. Both are big additions to Beaty's staff, but neither figures to have the immediate impact that Jackson will.
I talked to former KU cornerback Chris Harris about Jackson the other day. Jackson was KU's defensive backs coach when Harris played at KU and the current Denver Bronco absolutely loves him.
Harris told me that Jackson is going to have KU's players ready for battle and added that they probably won't like him much at first because he can be a hard ass. That's a good thing, if you're a fan of the program anyway.
One other interesting thing Harris stressed about Jackson was how good of a teacher of technique he was. In Harris' experience, that obviously had to do with playing DB, but, generally speaking, most coaches who are known for the way they teach technique are pretty buttoned-up dudes and detail oriented. I'd expect that to be exactly what KU's getting from Jackson.
For those who might want to see and hear a little more about what Jackson's all about, here are a couple of YouTube videos I found from his time at Indiana. Yeah, training basketball players and football players is a little different, but Jackson inherits an incredible training facility in Lawrence and you can bet he'll bring several of the same training principles to town with him when he takes over.