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KU football coaching search appears to be nearing an end, but waiting until after Saturday's spring game to announce the hire is the right move

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Saturday's Spring Game crowd at Memorial Stadium.

Saturday's Spring Game crowd at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

If you’re the type that furiously scrolls through Twitter or regularly frequents message boards to find out the latest bit of potential news — good or bad, real or speculative — on the Kansas football coaching search, you probably know that it’s already been a hot week.

No less than half a dozen reports exist out there that say KU is closing in on hiring its next coach and that the search is nearing its end.

Heck, one rogue tweet even went as far as to say someone had been hired — with the serious CYA hedge language included, of course.

Regardless of where things stand today or how quickly things are finalized, I keep feeling like the official announcement will not come until early next week.

The reason? It seems only right, from KU’s perspective, to let interim head coach Emmett Jones see things through to the end of spring football before announcing the new boss.

Jones has done a terrific job of holding the program together and keeping the players engaged and willing to work hard this spring. And none of those things was even close to a given in early March, when both Les Miles and Jeff Long left town amid controversy.

For that, Jones deserves his moment to shine.

No, the spring game will not be on national television or count on any kind of official record. But it is what Jones and the KU staff have been working toward for more than a month and it would be a nice gesture by KU to let them have the spotlight one last time before everything changes.

That’s not to say there won’t be leaks or unconfirmed reports about the hire before Saturday's 6 p.m. spring game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Those are almost unavoidable in this day and age.

But it would be an incredibly classy move by KU to wait to announce anything on its end until Sunday at the earliest, with an introductory press conference early next week.

Most reports, along with my sources, say this will come down to Buffalo’s Lance Leipold or Army’s Jeff Monken. Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz is the other name that has continued to surface during the past few days.

All three are proven head coaches. Both Leipold and Monken have been first-tier candidates from Day 1. Both are terrific football coaches with winning track records who would bring several new and needed elements to this struggling football program. And either would be a popular choice among the KU fan base.

To be frank, the mere fact that Kansas is in the running to land either coach after the dismal decade it just finished should be viewed as an incredibly good sign for the future of the program.

No matter who is hired, the job won’t be easy. Patience and perseverance will be critical traits for the new coach and his staff, first-year AD Travis Goff and KU fans.

But there’s a real sense among several people associated with KU that hiring either Leipold or Monken would be the first rock solid step in a successful rebuilding process that’s long overdue.

KU and its fans have waited this long to get to this point. What’s the harm in waiting a few more days, when that wait will provide the opportunity to say thanks to a good man and potentially important part of the future of the program in Jones?

Comments

Joey Meyer 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said.

How did you know I've been refreshing twitter every 4 seconds for the last hour?

...haven't done that in years....

Brett McCabe 4 months, 3 weeks ago

My experience in life is this: things happen. I spent most of my career in sales and there is an old and brutally true adage: Hot Leads Grow Cold.

Donors swoop in with new contract money. Coaches change their minds. Remember Glen Mason, head coach of Georgia? Or Larry Brown? Family priorities surface. Etc., etc.

Pick your coach, get him on a plane and have the press conference immediately. Everything else is secondary.

Coach Jones deserves respect but I don’t think that it is disrespectful to announce the new coach. It’s just business. If the new coach is retaining Jones, you can even include that aspect as part of the announcement.

Finish the job. Nothing else is a consideration.

Matt Tait 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I won't argue with that. Totally fair.

Just saying you can have everything signed, sealed and delivered by Friday and still wait to make the official announcement. Once the documents are signed, the risk/worry becomes much smaller.

Won't roast them if they don't do it this way. But with a new AD in place and an opportunity to combine all of this — new AD, the football hire, how it came about, who that coach is — into some kind of solid first impression of the new direction of KU football seems awfully appealing to me.

Dale Rogers 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think the announcement should wait until after the game. Let the kids play the game without having this on their minds.

As for not on national tv, that is technically true. But, last I looked, it will be broadcast live on espn+. Being way too far away to attend the live game, I will reactivate my espn+ account so I can watch the game live on tv.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dale is right. There is something else to consider and it is the players. As much as it’s a nice gesture towards the coaches and Coach Jones in particular, what’s really far more important is for the players to have what little semblance of normalcy they have been able to cobble together. It is about the players.

In this case we’re dealing with people and not a commodity. If a couple days is going to change the coach’s mind then we’re better off with the change vs some halfazz wishy-washy commitment.

Randy Bombardier 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Both sides of the argument make sense. But I think Dirk's comment is the most relevant. What little semblance of normalcy pretty much nailed it. Let's not distract the players.

Matt Tait 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Good call, gentlemen. I'll admit it; I overlooked the players aspect of this thing a little, too. Shouldn't have. Those guys, as much as the coaches, deserve for Saturday to be their time. And I suppose it still can be even if the announcement comes before then.

But I really think KU has a golden opportunity here to sort of reboot the perception of the program a little and that kind of first impression could go a long way.

Don't know a thing yet and haven't been around Goff enough to know how he'll view it. But my gut tells me he may see it that same way.

Time will tell...

Dale Rogers 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe do it after the game and have ESPN+ stick around plus clue other media to stick around after the game. But do it quietly so the players are not thinking aobut this while trying to play the game.

Marc Frey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I'll catch the game on a lake up in N. Wisconsin. Fresh water season opens, and I want Walleye for dinner. I'm tired of getting excited for the new football coach. Seems either ones listed are going to be ok. Just how many players current or future will leave concerns me. That's why I hate the KU Football coaching carousel...errr ejection seat. But I'm a fan, good, bad, or ugly. Rock Chalk.

Edward Daub 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Escape to Wisconsin! Enjoy!

Maybe you can help us "reel in" Leipold.

Andy Godwin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Matt, Please clarify the transfer portal. As you know the entire football program could be decimated overnight if the players, who clearly support coach Jones are unhappy with the announcement. Is there a date in football when a player needs to declare his intentions on entering the portal? The portal might be a valuable tool for Self and basketball, but a curse for the already beleaguered football program.

Matt Tait 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This year it's July 1 for all sports... Moving forward, it will be May 1 for fall and winter sports and July 1 for spring sports.

Having said that, there will certainly be some players who look/elect to move on, but I don't think the number will be nearly as high as people are anticipating.

For one, they could actually like the new coach. For two, if Jones (and others) are retained on the new staff, that would help a lot, too.

Time will tell how all of it shakes out, but I'm not anticipating that many moving on at all.

Jonathan Allison 4 months, 3 weeks ago

If I want the players to have a clear mind Saturday then I don't want them waiting on a big head coaching announcement coming Saturday after the Spring game

Perhaps the most logical thing to do is to announce it to the players immediately so that they know, and then tell them that there will be a big public announcement coming Saturday after the Spring game. Keep the hire concealed from the public till after the game, but make sure that those within the program know as much as possible as soon as possible so that they aren't out there spreading rumors and creating confusion for themselves and others.

Edward Daub 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The Horse Just Left the Barn!

Lance Leipold. Travis Goff missed the memo.

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