Saturday, December 3, 2011

KU coach list shuffles in six days of searching

Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora.

Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora.


As Kansas University’s search to find a replacement for former head football coach Turner Gill enters its sixth day, a few things — both in terms of additions and subtractions — are starting to become clear about KU’s list of candidates.

Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes continue to look like strong options. The biggest mover of the last couple of days seems to be former Boise State and Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter, who now serves as the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Koetter, 52, appears to have worked his way into KU’s top tier of candidates with a strong résumé that includes connections throughout the country and an offensive mind that’s capable of keeping up in the Big 12.

No one has seen the official list that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger took with him on the road Wednesday — in fact, KU officials have have remained very quiet about the search — but a few names that were on our original list of possible candidates can be removed.

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, originally believed one of KU’s top targets, was hired by Washington State earlier this week. The timing appears to be off for KU to hire South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, who had worked with Zenger in the past. Sources have said that Kevin Sumlin, of Houston, has no interest in Kansas. That’s probably not a bad thing for KU, since Sumlin appears to be the top target at Texas A&M.;

In addition to those names, former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops appears to be headed to Ohio State to join the Buckeyes as the defensive coordinator under new head coach Urban Meyer.


Of our original list of 12, eight names are still potentially in the running. During the past five days, a host of other names have also emerged as potential KU targets.

Here’s an updated list, with new categories and a quick breakdown of each candidate:

The New Favorite

Larry Fedora, 49, University of Southern Mississippi head coach

Record at school: 31-19 in 4 seasons (4 bowl appearances)

Current salary: $704,500 per year

Why it makes sense: Known as an excellent recruiter — especially in Texas, where he was a high school coach — and has Big 12 ties from his days as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. Also served as offensive coordinator at Florida from 2002-04 and has emerged in recent days as one of the hottest names available.

Why it might not happen: Appears to be in the mix at Texas A&M; and Ole Miss, which could cause problems for KU. Is his name sexy enough to please the big-time donors and a fan base that, just a few days ago, had visions of Mike Leach as their new head coach?

The Strong Contenders

Mark Stoops, 44, Florida State defensive coordinator

Record at school: N/A

Current salary: Not Available. Made $283,914 in final year as Arizona DC (2008).

Why it makes sense: Obviously has the right last name to get your attention, but also has the right connections. Zenger and Stoops worked together on Leavitt’s staff at South Florida in 1996 and again from 1997-99 at Wyoming, where Stoops coached defensive backs and Zenger served as recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach. Has served as defensive coordinator at three schools (Houston, Arizona and Florida State).

Why it might not happen: A lack of head coaching experience could hurt.

Sonny Dykes, 42, Louisiana Tech head coach

Record at school: 13-11 in 2 seasons at La. Tech (1 bowl appearances)

Current salary: $450,000 per year

Why it makes sense: A disciple of former Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme and described by some as Mike Leach Lite, Dykes uses the same style of offense as Leach and comes with far less baggage. Son of legendary former Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes. Great recruiting ties in Texas and 13-11 in two seasons at La. Tech, including 8-4 this season and a WAC championship.

Why it might not happen: There are reports of La. Tech and Dykes discussing a contract extension, and sources have said that Dykes and his family are very happy in Louisiana.

Dirk Koetter, 52, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator and former head coach at Arizona State and Boise State.

Record at school: 26-10 in 3 seasons at Boise (2 bowl appearances); 40-34 in 6 seasons at ASU (4 bowl appearances)

Current salary: Not Available.

Why it makes sense: Was the man who got Boise State rolling before handing over the keys to Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen. Has served as an offensive coordinator at five schools — including Missouri from 1989-93 — and, in 29 years, has developed ties to dozens of coaches, which could lead to him hiring an impressive staff.

Why it might not happen: Not incredibly familiar with Big 12 country and has been away from the college game for five years.

The Forget-Me-Not Guys

Dave Doeren, 39, Northern Illinois University head coach

Record at school: 10-3 in 1 season (1 bowl appearances)

Current salary: $371,000 per year

Why it makes sense: Doeren spent time at KU under Mangino and grew up in Kansas City. He knows what it takes to win at Kansas and he understands the culture. Was a huge player in recruiting a good chunk of KU’s 2007-08 Orange Bowl team and also has been praised by many as one of the bright, young defensive minds in the game based on his highly successful stint as Wisconsin’s co-defensive coordinator.

Why it might not happen: For starters, Gill beat Doeren earlier this season (45-42 in Lawrence) and that probably won’t sit well with KU fans.

Dave Christensen, 50, Wyoming head coach

Record at school: 17-18 in 3 seasons. (2 bowl appearances)

Current salary: $843,376 per year

Why it makes sense: Record-setting former Missouri offensive coordinator knows the area well and has recruiting ties throughout the Big 12 from his 12 seasons at Mizzou. Took over at Wyoming in 2009 and has led the Cowboys to bowls in two of his three seasons.

Why it might not happen: Could be a reach, and his losing record in the Mountain West Conference might hit too close to home for people still feeling burned by KU’s hire of Gill, who arrived at KU in 2009 with a 20-30 record in four seasons in the MAC.

Skip Holtz, 47, South Florida head coach

Record at school: 13-12 in 2 seasons. (1 bowl appearance)

Current salary: $1.7 million per year.

Why it makes sense: Son of legendary Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz was a candidate for KU’s job in 2009 and, until then, had enjoyed a steady rise from UConn to East Carolina. With instability plaguing the future of the Big East, Holtz could be looking for more stable ground.

Why it might not happen: Hasn’t fared well in the Big East and will be sitting at home this postseason as the Bulls finished 5-7 and did not qualify for a bowl game.

Phillip Fulmer, 61, former University of Tennessee head coach

Record at school: 152-52 in 17 seasons at Tennessee (15 bowl appearances)

Current salary: Not Available.

Why it makes sense: Fulmer was forced out at Tennessee after an uncharacteristic 5-7 record in 2008. All he did before that was win 10 games in ’07, nine games in ’06 and 10 in 2002 and 2003, as well. Oh, he also guided the Vols to the 1998 national championship. Although the Tennessee native has spent all but four years of his coaching life in his home state, the four years away were in Kansas at Wichita State. Fulmer expressed interest in and interviewed for vacancies at Louisville and UConn in late 2009.

Why it might not happen: Fulmer’s been out of the game for three seasons now and could have trouble adapting to the spread offenses — both offensively and defensively — currently in favor in the Big 12.

Troy Calhoun, 45, Air Force Academy head coach

Record at school: 39-23 in 5 seasons (4 bowl appearances)

Current salary: $889,095 per year

Why it makes sense: Experience all over the board from Ohio and Air Force to Wake Forest and the NFL. Offensive-minded coach who knows how to utilize multiple running backs, a position that should be a strength at Kansas for at least the next few years. Named the Mountain West coach of the year in 2007 and known for creative offensive gameplans.

Why it might not happen: His is not the biggest name of the bunch and he seems to be pretty happy at Air Force, where he starred as a quarterback during his playing days and began his coaching career under the legendary Fisher DeBerry.

Brent Venables, 40, Oklahoma defensive coordinator

Record at school: N/A

Current salary: Not Available.

Why it makes sense: Long considered one of the top assistant coaches in the college game, the Salina native, who played at Kansas State and later coached under Bill Snyder at his alma mater, has deep roots in the Midwest. His intelligent, energetic and charismatic qualities make him a master recruiter and the kind of coach players go the extra mile for. Venables has a great eye for talent and has been instrumental in Bob Stoops’ success at OU since 1999. Before that, the two worked together at K-State, as well.

Why it might not happen: Talking him into a rebuilding project at KU could be tough, considering some think he’s waiting to take over at either Oklahoma or Kansas State one day.

Glen Mason, 61, former Kansas and Minnesota head coach

Record at school: 47-54-1 in 9 seasons at KU (2 bowl appearances);

Current salary: Not Available.

Why it makes sense: Known for his ability to turn around programs and his identity as a strict disciplinarian. Mason knows the area, knows the culture of the conference and has expressed interest in the Kansas job. In addition, his step-daughter currently is enrolled as a student at KU.

Why it might not happen: Been there, done that. Had Mason never coached at Kansas, he might be among the favorites for this job. But he already left KU once — nearly twice — and seems to be enjoying life as a broadcaster for the Big Ten Network.

The Deep Reaches

Justin Fuente - 35 - Co-offensive coordinator at TCU, now in his fifth season with the Horned Frogs. Before TCU, Fuente spent six seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Illinois State, the final two years while Zenger was the school’s athletic director.

Jeff Monken - 44 - Georgia Southern head coach who is 19-7 during his two seasons. Key player in helping Paul Johnson develop that wacky offense at Georgia Tech. Once interviewed with Zenger for the Illinois State job.

Todd Monken - 45 - First-year Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, who has experience in the Midwest, the NFL (Jacksonville) and at LSU, has drawn some interest from a few schools recently.

Source for salary information: USA Today


treed14ku 10 years, 10 months ago

Matt, where is this line that Fedora is an excellent Texas recruiter coming from? In the 2010, 2011 and 2012 USM classes, he signed a total of ZERO kids from Texas. And the 2009 class had three kids from Texas. I know he is a former Texas high school coach so I get that he has connections, but statements like he recruits Texas well, actually have no backing currently. For the record, I want KU to hire Fedora, I just don't understand why people like yourself keep making this Texas recruiting claim.

JHawk74 10 years, 10 months ago


He probably doesn't need to sign kids from Texas at Southern Miss. His roster is filled with Mississippi, Alabama and Florida kids. Also some from Memphis, Tenn, Georgia and Louisiana. He does have a couple of kids from Texas, California and North Carolina.

Here is the list for the Top 11 states for College Football Recruiting (Bleacher Report article). August 1, 2011.

Tied for 1st: Florida, California and Texas 4. Louisiana 5. Georgia 6. Alabama 7. Mississippi 8. North and South Carolina 9. Ohio 10. Virginia/D.C. Area 11. Pennsylvania

He is recruiting from 8 of the top 11 states. I say he has good connections across the country. As a Kansas coach you wouldn't need to spend much time in Kansas since we don't have very many 3 star Athletes or above. He probably spends lots of hours recruiting Mississippi since they are the 7th best state for High School college recruits. Southern Miss recruiting budget is probably fairly small since they are a Conference USA team (not a BCS school). Just because he doesn't have Texas kids on his roster doesn't mean he can't recruit Texas. He probably doesn't spend much time there since he is already in a hot spot for college football athletes right at home. He coached at Baylor for 5 years so he probably has good Texas connections to recruit from.

blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Excellent info. Thanks. When Mason was hired, he mined Ohio and the upper Midwest for a good number of strong players.

Stubblefield, Brown, Maumalanga (sp)....none were from Texas. Fedora could probably do the very same thing using his current ties in the southeast.

If you're a solid 3-star, why wouldn't you come to KU to play for Fedora? Gary Pinkel had zero experience recruiting Texas when he started drinking at Mizzou.

dylans 10 years, 10 months ago

Yeah! Who needs Kansas kids? The only coaches who could win with those kids are Snyder (every year) and Mangino. On second thought maybe KU should recruit Kansas kids too. (My sarcasm font is still broken)

JHawk74 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree we should recruit Kansas kids. But with the lack of top talent it wouldn't take much recruiting time. Any Kansas football stars should be signed by KU (or KSU). But if a top talent is recruited by Oklahoma or Texas or LSU, etc I don't blame them for thinking they could compete for a National Championship at these schools.

yates33333 10 years, 10 months ago

If they are going to get Fedora better do so today. USM plays Houston today and if USM wins Fedora will be the odds on favorite to replace Sumlin who will probably go to Texas A&M. Also, his price will go up.

JJHAWK 10 years, 10 months ago

Fedora's Team crushed a good Houston team. Certainly makes him a good pick in my book. Stoops and Dykes also seem like winners. If our AD is interviewing or choosing with these three in the mix, seems like we have a chance of getting a good coach..

shimjhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Calhoun can be crossed off the list. He turned down the Broncos a few years ago to stay at Air Force.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 10 months ago

We can only hope that he really isn't on our target list.

dylans 10 years, 10 months ago

Looks like a better pick in light of that info.

jhawkjunkie 10 years, 10 months ago

I still and firmly believe KU Zenger needs to hire Venables. People want to say he is waiting for the Oklahoma or Kansas State job to open up. Well Stoops isn't going anywhere for a long time, and as for taking over the Kansas State job, well, they passed on him the first time Snyder retired, and some stories that there is a rift between him and Kansas State. It has been stated on this site he wants the job, and like we could offer Leach, a chance once a year to stick it to his old school. Zenger, please bring Venables back home to Kansas.

Sayers44 10 years, 10 months ago

Agree----bring in a young guy on his way up.

Do not want some recycled coach that might have had one decent season and now people think he is a hot commodity (Fedora).

Mark Lindrud 10 years, 10 months ago

Guy on the way up? Stoops. Defense has been great every where he has gone.

JayhawkMafiaFamily 10 years, 10 months ago

100% Agreed. Zenger needs to put on the full court press and focus on Venables NOW. If OU beats OSU today in Bedlam and especially if OU's defense squashes OSU's high powered offense, Venables stock will only go up making it even harder to land him. Maybe the best thing for KU is for OU to get crushed by OSU today. That way other teams that may be interested will reconsider and we can steal him away. It would be a bit of a gamble but I think it would be worth it.

viewaskew 10 years, 10 months ago

Zenger better not be serious about Koetter.

Unlike Evans, Koetter has had extremely serious problems with his players off the field. Two players have faced sexual-assault allegations and two other players were kicked off the team for secretly filming a coed disrobing. Another player was dismissed after pulling a knife, and another for firing a gun.

Incredibly, Koetter reinstated Wade after learning that he had threatened to kill a female gymnast, after receiving a report from the women's soccer coach that players were terrified because Wade had a gun, and after knowing Wade's girlfriend had called police fearing Wade was going to destroy her apartment after he had threatened her life.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 10 months ago

There are a lot of bad names out there, but "Koetter" I think is the worst. He comes with baggage that you can't just ignore, he comes with the baggage that can take down a program.

He clearly should be off any type of a list.

As a side note, his resume sucks as well.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

In summary, Tait has no idea who we are goi g to hire. Neither does sheahoRn

Eric Williams 10 years, 10 months ago

sheahoRn is ahperse's clever creation. Instead of spelling his name correctly, he implies Zenger is a puppet of Texas. It's funny and clever to exactly ONE ahperson. See what i did there?

sheahoRn 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey guys it's me. Did you get my email yesterday? It took me 5 days to write it so I hope you enjoyed it. Anyway, I will be announcing our new leader as soon as a coach will actually take my phone call. Most see the (785) area code and don't answer because they know it's me. I hope all is well and remember KU football tickets make a great white elephant gift.

EMAW (darn it, I keep doing that) I mean RCJH, sheahoRn

treed14ku 10 years, 10 months ago

ahperse....creating a fake Shay Z account is pretty lame, even for your standards. I guarantee you will be on this site trolling whoever KU hires. Get a life.

sheahoRn 10 years, 10 months ago

Faux sheahoRn is necessary when the real one only talks to us in "open letters", spam emails, and western Kansas highway billboards. Oh, and it's not "trolling" when everything you post is correct.

treed14ku 10 years, 10 months ago

Those plane crash comments the other week were real classy too btw, ahperse. Please don't reproduce.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

Let me jump in here. All I'm saying is I choose to fly my mother-in-law on Air Okie State because they have great service at a reasonable price. If you took it to mean something else then I am sorry.

Saguaro_Jayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Probably best to stop using "sexy" as a description for any candidate. Well, unless you are a woman.

troutsee 10 years, 10 months ago

Phillip Fullmer Mark Stoops Larry Fedora Brent Venables Dave Christiansen

These pass my sniff test with Phillip Fullmer's standout record speaking for itself.

I'd say no to the rest except for Mason who is in my gray area. I respect the hell out of his toughness and how he took two moriband programs and made them very competitive in two very good conferences. Many write Mason off. I would not.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 10 months ago

Dave Christiansen has Missouri ties...let's knock him off the list for being associated with those traitors.

JHawk06 10 years, 10 months ago

Why is June Jones not on this new list? He knows how to take mediocre talent and win....Has been recruiting in Texas for a few years now... I don't know much, but I know he would be better than half that list you posted.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

What really stinks is that I wanted the kind of offense Gill wanted to run. Unfortunate he stunk as a coach. Please get a coach that wants to run the football and play defense. I don't care if we run the spread, but please run the football. With the backs that we have, we need to utilize them with a two back set like we did most of the year during 2008. I know it's stupid to suggest it, but an Opurum / Miller & Bourbon / Pierson combo would just be lethal with a decent line and good play calling.

Please hire the right guy. I would like to see Fulmer or Mason get this job. Let someone with a steady hand turn this ship around and then once we become a hotter commodity as a football program maybe one of the hot commodity coaches will be interested in coaching for us about the time either of these two guys would be ready to retire.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 10 months ago

I can't believe someone actually liked the offense that Gill was trying to run. I felt like I was in the 80s, maybe earlier.

Mason is a has been with mediocracy.

Fulmer, I would take in a heart beat. I wanted him last time, and this time he would bring instant SEC recruiting ties and KU has some people that have TX recruiting ties.

Mark Lindrud 10 years, 10 months ago

I think he meant the fact we use our running backs because they can be a great weapon if used right. Sort of like how Marshall Faulk was used.

vd 10 years, 10 months ago

Many of us "like" that offense, because our best players fit that type of O. If we run a spread, we will lose our best players, or they will sit on the bench watching. Many of want to see a dual threat QB, not more of Jordan Webb.

WilburNether 10 years, 10 months ago

People have to be kidding about Glen Mason. How short some people's memories are about how he jerked KU around at the end of his coaching tenure.

Chayse Patrick 10 years, 10 months ago

And AGREE!!!!!! if KU hires Mason I'll never watch another KU football game period. HE IS A TOTAL ASS!!!!!!

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 10 months ago

Venables and Fulmer were the two from the list above that I think are solid choices.

Mark Stoops would be okay.

Fedora and Dykes are non-starters. Fedora reminds me of Gill and Dykes isn't even a hot seems like we missed out on Leach, so who else has TTU ties.

Kuetter is a sham...he has way too much baggage and a poor resume.

The rest don't even make sense.

blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't know why, but I have 100% confidence in Zenger on this. That's not meant as a jab either. I just think that we hired the right AD (thank goodness we didn't get Bubba or Billy Jo or Johnny Ray or whatever his name is from Tulsa) and I feel like we have a guy who really understands football.

While we are all making stabs in the dark, I've got a feeling that Zenger created a list based on facts, tons of research and feedback gained from reaching out in the football community.

I actually hope that he hires a guy without a big name. Preferably someone that didn't go under .500 in their current job, though.

sheahoRn 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't know why either...I mean thanks for the support.

JayhawkMafiaFamily 10 years, 10 months ago

My vote goes to Brent Venables. He has BCS conference coaching experience, albeit not head coaching experience. We obviously need a defensive minded coach as terrible as our defense was this season. His ties to the area and reputation as a good recruiter will boost the profile of the football program overnight. Add a solid OC and you have the foundation for a quality football program. We saw what the Leach hire at WSU did for season ticket sales and donations there, I think hiring Venables will have the same effect at KU. Even if he uses KU as a steeping stone to another head coaching job in a few years hopefully he will have done enough to put the program on solid footing for future success. It will be a challenge turning around the program but I think he has what it takes to get the job done. Like a lot of other fans I was also disappointed we didn't land Leach; if we pass on Venables too I will definitely have to reconsider whether or not I want to get season tickets again next year which I've had since graduating in 2001.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

All I'm saying is, if you look at the default avatar sideways it looks like a body part that needs to be shook.

bad_dog 10 years, 10 months ago

All I'm saying is some of your posts create the perception you were "shook" as a baby...

TwistedFish31 10 years, 10 months ago

LOL! I think this little aphercoachahole kstate kid doesn't have anything else to do out on the farm other than live to post on our boards. What a life.

smartjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

We must make sure to hire a coach that does not cuss or yell at the players. He must be black as well; preferably a little darker this time. I don't want an "Obama looking" coach.

squawky 10 years, 10 months ago

So Mike stoops is going to go to OSU and be Fickell's assistant d coordinator? because Fickell is staying on at OSU as the DC. Not that Ku wants Mike Stoops as HC but he's not going to OSU. Matt do a little research before writing such crud. ay caramba!!!

ack 10 years, 10 months ago

Why talk about possible coaches who already have committed to other schools. A waste of time and energy..Go after a guy who can recruit good talent.

minneahawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm not advocating for Doeren, but Paul Johnson also lost to Turner Gill and he's a damn good coach. I would bet the loss will be a factor but not as much as everyone thinks.

tanntann01 10 years, 10 months ago

Fedora is looking pretty good right now against Summlin in CUSA championship. But why not June Jones with Randy Shannon as D coordinator, any possibility ?

I would be okay with Fulmer or Mark Stoops...but anyone else doesn't make too much sense.

Mark Lindrud 10 years, 10 months ago

Fedora rocked today and is team was very aggressive. We should talk to him ASAP because his stock just went up big time.

danmoore 10 years, 10 months ago

Coaching in the Big 12 is a lot different than the MAC or Conference USA because the level of competition increases dramatically. Mason was a successful coach in the MAC but he had limited success when he got to the Big 8. None of the above are proven commodities.

Norm Jennings 10 years, 10 months ago

for those who think only Venables are Fulmer are worth hiring...

Venables' lauded defense gave up 44 to the 'pokes today, with waaay better defensive talent than can be found on the KU sideline.

Fulmer...well the once great but rusty candidate is working out great for TT isn't it? 1/2 the fan base would ditch Tuberville and take Leach back tomorrow.

Gill couldn't hold Fedora's jock$trap. First, lost head-to-head last year, and I'm not at all sure that the MAC of Gill's time would be comparable to the C-USA this season.

DrGraydog 10 years, 10 months ago

Fulmer would be completely would Fedora....I just think Fulmer should be the #1 guy....

okiedave 10 years, 10 months ago

OSU is so glad they did not can Gundy after his first four miserable years at the OSU helm, when the fans were calling for his head.

squawkhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

It will continue to suffle until all the good coaches are picked up by othe schools and we are left with the left-overs.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

I am still waiting for my answer to my original question the day Gill was fired....

Can someone explain to me why anyone would take the Kansas position????

Bruce Rist 10 years, 9 months ago

I can give you TWO million dollar reasons

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