Wednesday, November 5, 2014

KU football coaching search takes steps forward

Kansas University director of athletics Sheahon Zenger, left, watches from the sideline next to deputy athletics director Sean Lester during the final minutes on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University director of athletics Sheahon Zenger, left, watches from the sideline next to deputy athletics director Sean Lester during the final minutes on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.


With four games remaining in the 2014 Kansas University football season and still a world of uncertainty surrounding who will lead the program in the future, KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has taken some significant steps forward in the search to find a full-time football coach.

Zenger confirmed to the Journal-World Wednesday morning that former Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas had been hired by the university as an advisor in the search for a replacement for Charlie Weis, who was fired on Sept. 28.

Zenger credited Neinas' handling of the tumultuous conference realignment era and said his knowledge and understanding of both Kansas and the Big 12 landscape would be crucial in helping the Jayhawks find the right coach.

"Chuck is a guy I've known in this business since I was young," Zenger told the Journal-World. "We all respect and admire him as a current and former leader in our business, and what he did recently with the Big 12 was historic. Having him walk beside us in this is a great comfort.”

This is not the first time that Neinas has assisted KU in a high-profile hire. Back in 2003, when the university was looking for a replacement for athletic director Al Bohl, Neinas helped the Jayhawks locate and land Lew Perkins, who served as KU's AD from 2003-10. As was the case then, Zenger said Neinas would play a key role.

"He'll be actively involved,” Zenger said. “He'll be on the phone as much as I am. He will help us vet every candidate through references and also will be another voice on the advisory committee as well."

In addition to involving Neinas, Zenger confirmed that a search committee of roughly a dozen people had been formed to aid in the search. The committee includes colleagues, former KU football players and stakeholders, all of whom, Zenger said, have a vested interest in KU football and leading the program back to better days.

"Everyone will have a different role,” Zenger said. “And the members of the committee are nation-wide. Based upon their location, they'll be able to do different things within that advisory role."

As Zenger has said from the beginning, interim head coach Clint Bowen remains a strong candidate for the job, but he hired Neinas and formed the committee to make sure the search was as thorough and well-rounded as possible, both of which would increase the odds of KU finding the right guy.

Because many teams and potential candidates are still in the heart of their football seasons, most of the work done on the search thus far has been of the preparatory variety, with Zenger and others doing research, lining up parameters and making preparations for the search to heat up once the college football season winds down.

"As I said five weeks ago, we will simultaneously be supporting our team and current staff and conducting a search," Zenger said. "And I think people can see we've been doing that."


Doug Merrill 7 years, 8 months ago

It would be hard for anyone to suggest that this search is being poorly done. We always hear what a bad job the AD did if the football W-L outcome is poor. This story should eliminate that response in future ( although a winning team will be the most effective way to push back on that!!).

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

Clint Bowen deserves every scrap of attention and support he's gotten. But to those who wish him to be hired as head coach, this is an important process and a seach needs to be fairly conducted. It's the athletic department's due diligence...

Bryce Landon 7 years, 8 months ago

If Bowen is still a candidate after the debacle at Baylor last Saturday, Zenger should have his head examined and might even want to consider surrendering his doctorate.

Glen Miller 7 years, 8 months ago

Baylor can make anyone look foolish, I'd prefer to look at the other games he's been head coach for, not just one against a juggernaght. If you don't see marked improvement over what we've seen the last 5 years, then you're not watching close enough.

Dillon Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

Looks like Harbaugh leaving the 49ers is becoming more and more likely. Just saying...

Len Shaffer 7 years, 8 months ago

Hope springs eternal, but I still don't see it happening. I never took it seriously last time, and it's still hard to believe that someone with his credentials would seriously look at KU, regardless of where his wife is from.

Andy Hess 7 years, 8 months ago

Harbaugh is getting like $6M a year from the Niners. I'm not sure he'll get that from anyone in the NCAA, but schools like Michigan will probably get him closer to that than we will.

Chris Oestreich 7 years, 8 months ago

Harbaugh will not be coming to Kansas! Keep digging to find the young up and commers, Bowen included. What Joe said is very true. I hope Clint gets it but only after we have looked at all options!

Chuck Woodling 7 years, 8 months ago

Former Chancellor Hemenway eschewed a search committee and used Neinas in his quest to find a replacement for AD Al Bohl. Hemenway hired Lew Perkins.

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

...who, among the vast amount of good he did, single-handedly tanked the football program by jettisoning a proven coach. It was Lew, after all, who gave us Turner Gill.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

Not the best example to site. Perkins, IMO, was an institutional thief.

Bill Jacobson 7 years, 8 months ago

One big concern needs to be the contract. Hopefully we have learned our lessons from the past two coaching contracts. We need to put something together that is more representative of the coaches experience and success. Let's not overpay with long-term deals for someone with little head coaching experience. Especially when you know they would take the job at 1/2 that salary. My guess is that if you took all the coaching salaries and buyouts over the past 5 years KU has about the highest coaching payroll in the big 12. Just my gut, I am sure someone could do the math and see.

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

Well Im not "solidly" in the Clint Bowen camp, but I agree that this is a great exposition of talented, young coaches. Good find!

Glen Miller 7 years, 8 months ago

Since the start to his first season, Kingsbury hasn't impressed me much...... I'd rather keep Bowen if I have a choice between someone like him and Clint.

Steve Williams 7 years, 8 months ago

there's only one way to know


Lloyd Kinnison 7 years, 8 months ago

Let us hope that as the search continues, our AD does not give a 5 year contract without some requirements for winning. Only in coaching is the contract in favor of the person and not the organization. If wins do not happen, then the contract calls for replacement earlier than 5 years. Lloyd Kinnison

John Randall 7 years, 8 months ago

Have we learned nothing about staying the course? NO ONE can do a five year job in two years!

Jack Jones 7 years, 8 months ago

You've got it exactly right, John. Unfortunately, the sports fan, and those charged with the responsibility of making decisions about hiring coaches ~ are not capable of grasping that concept, nor are they strong enough to resist the alumni financial pressure to do what needs to be done to DEVELOP a long-term, successful program.

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

There is nothing magical that says just because someone is in a job for five years, that the program will get better. There must be indications within a season or two that progress is being made. Answer this: is it important to determine the difference between someone who is going to bring about improvement in five years versus someone whos going to waste that time not making progress? Its a fallacy to think that simply because someone has been given a long-term contract, that success is assured. It isnt. They must show improvement...

Mike Barnhart 7 years, 8 months ago

Great closing argument! The defense rests!

Micky Baker 7 years, 7 months ago

Joe, that depends on what you consider progress to be. For example,if someone is going to measure by wins and losses, they will say no progress is made even if the team goes from losing by an average of 20 points one season to an average of 3 the next season.

This is why the fans need to state what they expect as soon as the next coach is hired. Go on record, and don't just do it once. You would notice that the expectations would be widely diverse and that by the way some state their expectations, you can pretty much tell rather they're going to be patient or not.

It is going to take a good five years. People are going to have to recognize even the smallest improvements right away. The way the players compete. Are they improved discipline wise, meaning, do we have 4 or 5 false starts a game or just one a game? Are we scoring 30 points a game instead of 19,even if we don't win the majority of the games?

Wins aren't going to come until about the 3rd season after the new coach has a chance to recruit for at least a couple of years the type of players that fit his system. That is due to the time it take for the OL to develop. If by year 3 there isn't any improvement in wins, then there is going to be some controversy on whether or not the next guy should be allowed to stay past that.

It is possible that we can see a quicker turnaround, but with this roster and so may players playing their last year, it's going to have to start from scratch. There will be players who leave and some of them might be good players. We have to replace those that leave with those with heart.

Rick McGowwan 7 years, 7 months ago

Right Micky, so who should we have kept for 5 years, Gill or Weiss? Either is a frightening thought. KU will have patience for progress.

Joe Ross 7 years, 7 months ago

Ive seen better posts of yours. You simply repeated that its going to take five years to turn the program around. Even if thats true it doesnt answer the question I posed in my last comment. The fact is that not only was there no progress under Gill and Weis (no matter which aspect of the program you consider and by whatever measuring stick you use to consider it), but both of them actually took steps backward with the program.

Andy Tweedy 7 years, 8 months ago

I updated to the new OS on my Mac, and now this site is harder to read than that stupid app!!! That fact aside, I'm excited about finding out who are new coach is but I'm equally dismayed that coaching searches are about the only exciting thing going on around KU football going on 5 years now! This better work...cuz I can't take much more of this. Thank you lord for Cliff Alexander and the boys for taking my mind of the sad state of affairs with KU football...

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 8 months ago

I say we make Bill Self the first multi-sport coach in KU history.

Robert Brock 7 years, 8 months ago

You mean since 1920. That was the year when Phog Allen coached both football and basketball.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 8 months ago

Didn't know that ... Thanks for the education.

Mick Allen 7 years, 8 months ago

You are correct. Phog coached one year and his record was 6-2-1. The tie was against mighty Nebraska and was the motivation for the construction of Memorial Stadium. Having HCBS also coach football is not that big of a stretch as the contact at his practices is probably as physical as the football practices.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

I was wondering if you would jump over to this page to make a comment. I have high confidence that Self would have done a superior job than the last two football coaches.

Jason Musick 7 years, 8 months ago

I want the Colorado State head Coach. He turned around a horrible football team in 2 years. He is 8 and 1 this year. Losing only to Boise State.

Kerby Rice 7 years, 8 months ago

thank you, finally someone agrees with me!!! Was OC for 2 Bama championship teams, has NFL experience (although the raiders), has head coaching experience, has turned around a football program and that will likely lead them to a final top 25 ranking. This guy will get a gig at a power 5 somewhere soon and I think he is the guy we will be talking about in a couple years that we missed on or didnt look at seriously like we are Malzahn and Hugh Freeze right now. Will cost to get him here with his buyout and this may be another stepping stone job for him but I am totally ok with that as that means we have won 7-8+ games in a season, a heck of a better spot than we are right now. I love Clint Bowen, I love the attitude he has brought to the program, I love his intensity during pressers, I love the story of the hometown guy at his dream job. But if you look at his resume and what he has done production wise on the field I don't think there is one football program in the power 5 conference that would jump to or even consider hiring this guy as a D-Coordinator let alone a head coach. Granted the stats and production is skewed due to atrocious offensive play, I just am not sold on him as our head coach at this time. But like all of you, I am just a fan so my opinion doesn't mean crap. If McElwain isn't brought in for at least an interview I will be extremely extremely disappointed.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 8 months ago

Prepare to be extremely extremely disappointed. McElwain's buyout means he's only leaving for an elite job, not Kansas.

Eric Mitchell 7 years, 8 months ago

If I'm the AD these I'm calling Ed Warinner, Jim Harbaugh, Willie Fritz, Jim McElwain,Ruffin McNeil, Phillip Montgomery, and Mark Hudspeth

Jake Spavital would be awfully young at 29 and unproven but I would consider trying to bring him in as the OC. He's from Oklahoma, is the A&M OC, and coached under Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia. Wouldn't have much of a chance to get him away from Texas A&M unless he got the HC position.

Kyle Sybesma 7 years, 8 months ago

Big Bold Optimistic Theory/Projection: Since Kenny Hill at A&M is on a 2 game suspension and not playing well we'll see David Beaty hired as HC and Kenny Hill will transfer from A&M to Kansas.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, and we thought Charlie Weis bringing Dayne Crist from Notre Dame to Kansas was great for the program, and that worked out quite nicely - oh wait...

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 8 months ago

Kenny Hill was suspended because he was out getting drunk the night before a game at Northgate and then played like crap the next day. He has similar issues that Manziel had, but not the talent to get away with it.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 8 months ago

Jim MeElwain currently makes $1.5 million per year as a base salary and has a $7.5 million dollar buy out. It would cost KU about $20 million to get McElwain out of Ft. Collins and that's just not worth it at this point. There's also nothing in his coaching background that suggests he would take over such a train wreck like the KU job will be. I think we can cross him off the list pretty definitively for being the next KU coach. He's staying in Ft. Collins until the right Power 5 job opens up for him.

A name that hasn't been mentioned at all that would be worth a look is Doc Holliday at Marshall. He's currently making only 600k per season and only has a 600k buyout. At 57, he's right on the verge of being too old for the type of rebuilding job KU is, but not too old yet to rule him out as a possible candidate.

Jim Jackson 7 years, 8 months ago

David Beaty is my choice. Dallas Morning News recruiter of the year who has coached 3 star guys into All-Americans (Briscoe, Dillard, Evans)

Also turned Rice into a 50 something ranked offense from the 100's in one year as their OC.

We desperately need to close the talent gap, he can do it the fastest.

Fred Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

Well...... Let's be honest. Hindsight being crystal clear, and it always is, Lew Perkins is the real culprit behind why this football program is in the ugly shape that its in. It's been well understood that he helped organize the takedown of Mark Mangino behind the scenes after the Orange Bowl season.

Rather than support a head coach who had brought unprecedented success to an otherwise moribund program, Perkins decided to sabotage that success so he could force Mangino out and bring in his own guy, and that guy was Turner Gill. To suggest that KU would have suffered through the same malaise that Gill and Weis brought on had Mangino stayed on is laughable.

So, I bring up Perkins because Neinas is alleged to have help bring him in. And according to this article - - hiring Neinas to help you with a search doesn't always end well and wreaks more of a good old boy hire than anything else.

Point being, when you try to read the tea leaves, bringing in Neinas says one of two things to me:

1 - It doesn't bode well for Bowen because Neinas is going to bring in/suggest someone connected in his circle.

2 - The Zeng plans on hiring Bowen as his guy and hired Neinas to appease Boosters who want a nation-wide search with a name behind it.....

And for the love of all things Jayhawk Kansas fans - please stop with Harbaugh.

Glen Miller 7 years, 8 months ago

  1. Why do any of you want Harbaugh... he will be more headache than I care to deal with for one. For two he will leave within 3 years. No thank you.

  2. We are seriously bringing in a guy who advised we hire the scum bag that was Perkins? Seriously, do we just enjoy looking like we don't know what we are doing when it comes to football?

  3. I think we are missing the bigger picture here in our haste to bring in a big name or someone that looks "sexy"..... what we NEED is someone who BELIEVES in this program and WANTS to be here, not use us as a stepping stone and mention the crap product that we put on the field.

Clint Bowen has shown he can get the players to play well for him. He has shown he can develop players. He has a passion for this school and and excitement oozing out of him about our school that the recruits can see, I promise you that. Part of our problem is recruiting and I think when this guy walks into a house and starts pitching our school, he gets their attention and the positive vibe he gives doesn't hurt I am sure. I'm not sure what everyone expected this guy to do with a roster that is depleted and lacking in talent. He's done way more than Weis and Gill in much less time. He loves this school and I think the guy can get it done. We will not be worse off in 3 years if he is our coach, mark my words on that. I believe in this guy and I absolutely love that he loves this school. That's hard to find. I don't care about some guy who will be here to turn us around and then leave to a better football school. We hire some young up and comer and that's exactly what will happen.... it never fails.

Robert Brock 7 years, 8 months ago

The next HC should consider hiring Bowen as his Assistant Head Coach. Bowen has proven that he is worth retaining at KU.

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

Im not being fecetious when I ask, but do you have evidence that that's the plan or are you just going with a gut feeling?

Rick McGowwan 7 years, 7 months ago

Joe: Zenger made a comment that CB will be on staff if he wants to be, it'll be his choice. They didn't mention the position/title he would have, just that he'd be able to stay.

To Glenn, an important distinction: CB has shown the players will play "hard" for him, not play "well" for him.

Steve Corder 7 years, 8 months ago

Is there anyone out there who thinks this Iowa State game may be what makes or breaks the decision on Clint Bowen as the next head coach? Lose and Bowen becomes, at best, a default choice if others reject an offer, while a win might make it difficult to not to select him as HC?

Another sloppy performance like at Baylor might end the issue altogether, less a real upset of any of the remaining games.

Joe Ross 7 years, 8 months ago

A win against Iowa State does not make it difficult not to select Clint Bowen. A win merely keeps Bowen in consideration. It is, after all, Iowa State. Having said that, I dont see any path whereby Bowen can lose this game and emerge as the next coach at Kansas. To do that Bowen will have to take care of business against ISU and any one of the opponents--OU, TCU, or KSU--remaining on the schedule, and if he does this he will have positioned himself very well to be at the helm next season.

Jay Beakum 7 years, 8 months ago

Excellent comments here. I learned a lot today.

That said, and any curve balls notwithstanding, I'm leaning heavily toward getting Beatty back into the program. The guy's record is unblemished, in fact sparkling, in all facets. I think at least he could handle the OC duties while Reagan takes the OLinemen and Kies keeps the wrs.

Maybe a lot to ask retaining all those guys but with them in place and Bowen making the minimum, it could be doable.

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