Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bowen, Zenger discuss what’s next for Kansas football

Kansas Jayhawks football coach Clint Bowen, right, directs the Jayhawks in their game against the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday in Manhattan. At left is KU sophomore, Tevin Shaw, (30).

Kansas Jayhawks football coach Clint Bowen, right, directs the Jayhawks in their game against the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday in Manhattan. At left is KU sophomore, Tevin Shaw, (30).


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Clint Bowen breaks down KU's season-ending loss to K-State and the future of Kansas football

Clint Bowen breaks down KU's season-ending loss to K-State and the future of Kansas football

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger discusses Clint Bowen's 9 weeks as interim coach of KU football

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger discusses Clint Bowen's 9 weeks as interim head coach of KU football.

Download podcast


Box score

— Asked, after Saturday's 51-13 loss to Sunflower State rival Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, what came next, Kansas University interim football coach Clint Bowen sounded a lot like a man who planned to have a role in the program moving forward.

“We're gonna thank these seniors who gave their heart and soul to Kansas University,” Bowen began. “And we're gonna get our players in the weight room next week and get ’em ready for finals.... This is about Kansas football. It's about this football program and this university. Whoever (is hired), everyone that's a fan of KU needs to get behind it and let this program become what it's capable of. We have all the resources in the world. We have everything needed at Kansas University to have a successful football program and it'll happen.”

What Bowen's role from here will be, of course, is up to athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who reiterated after Saturday's loss that he was impressed by the way Bowen handled himself and the program during the past nine weeks.

“Clint did everything we asked him to do,” Zenger said. “And what you heard him say in there is who he is. He's one of the most authentic individuals I've ever met. I know people like to go day by day and week by week and get high and get low. You have to take the emotion out of it. You have to have a steady hand. As he has said, this is about Kansas football.”

Both Bowen and Zenger spoke of the need to focus on every last detail of the program in order to get KU football turned around. That their comments came in the shadows of a stadium — a cathedral, really — that stands because of one of the greatest turnarounds in history of sports only made their words ring louder.

“We did have a goal and an objective that we wanted to set an identity for what we want Kansas football to be and I believe we did make a very good start on that,” Bowen said of he and Zenger. “I believe, at this point, our kids understand the importance of playing hard, playing smart and playing tough. They're the same things that K-State demonstrated (today) and I think the kids now understand that there's a price to be paid if you're gonna have success.”

Added Zenger: “I've held my tongue on this, but in the four years I've been here, it's about doing the little things right. That's what the program that just beat us does. When we start doing all the little things right, things will get better — in recruiting, in the classroom, in the weight room, off the field but also each and every day in practice. That's what Clint has done a good job of these last nine weeks.”

If given the opportunity to continue what he started, Bowen believes KU can be a place that fields a football program of which fans can be proud.

“I don't think it's difficult at all,” Bowen said. “I think it's the way you operate every single day of your program. It starts with winter conditioning, it goes into spring practice, it goes into summer time. It's not difficult. Players have to earn everything they're gonna get, and there has to be a standard of excellence, and then your players have to meet that standard. We're headed that way.

“There's zero doubts in my mind that Kansas football can win football games and win football games every year. There's no excuses, there's no anything other than putting the work in, putting the grind in and getting it done.”

The guys he led these past nine weeks already seem sold.

“I would love to come back and finish my career playing for Clint Bowen,” junior quarterback Michael Cummings said after the loss.

Added senior captain Ben Heeney: “I think the first step is hiring the guy that we've got right now. He's got this thing moving in the right direction. I think that's the first and only step right now.”

Now that the season is over, the focus shifts to Zenger, the KU search committee and their next hire. Regardless of whether they go with Bowen as the head coach or in some other capacity, it appears there is room for him in the program.

“He's just one of the most solid people I know,” Zenger said. “He is true-blue KU. He cares deeply about this institution. He and I see a lot of things eye-to-eye. Whether it's him or someone else, he's gonna be a part of this program because he believes in the right things.”

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Kansas State


Brett McCabe 7 years, 7 months ago

I remember many years ago attending a coaching clinic where one of the speakers said that the most important thing in building a program is learning to defend your home field. In Bowen's tenure, we lost by 7, won by 21 and lost by 3. On the road, we were somewhat competitive at TTU and WVU and horrible at Baylor, Oklahoma and KSU.

If you look at our schedule, Charlie got the easy portion and Bowen got the hard part with away games at the No. 6 ranked team in the country, the No. 11 ranked team in the country and the No. 20 ranked team in the country. Each one on the road. Bowen also had only 3 of his 8 games at home and all of them were against Big 12 competition.

Now, this may sound like excuse-making but it is also reality. This team played tough at home and was reasonably competitive against middle-of-the-road teams. We were terrible against the elite teams in the league - with the exception of the 5th ranked Horned Frogs.

The results tell me that Bowen is already making progress on job one: competing at home.

Unless there is a surprise candidate out there somewhere, Bowen should be the guy. He's made progress, was handed a mess and may have had the most difficult schedule in America. He can make more progress next year if we give him the chance that he has earned.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 7 months ago

Excellent points. I don't think we are that far from a 5-6 win season but we have a ways to go before we can compete with the elite teams. Mangino had a lot of close games early on but eventually turned those winnable games into Ws.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 7 months ago

From the snippets of info I read, it seems that the decision is made to hire Bowen. I don't have a problem with that if they clean shop and get new OC, DC, and rest of the crew. They need to get folks who can recruit, and recruit at a higher level than what we have been doing. Regardless of our status in Big12, we are still in Big12, and that should garner some respect...

Looking forward to next year!

Robert Brock 7 years, 7 months ago

Bowen deserves respect. Zenger, on the other hand...

Doug Cramer 7 years, 7 months ago

Bowen may deserve respect, but does not deserve a head coaching title at a Power 5 school.

Zenger on the other hand................yeah I agree with you.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 7 months ago

Bowen's resume for anyone that may suffer from amnesia:

  1. 2008 KU Defense Ranked 87
  2. 2009 KU Defense Ranked 85
  3. 2010 WKU Defense Ranked 99
  4. 2011 NTU Defense Ranked 88
  5. 2012 KU Special Teams " NOT GOOD "
  6. 2013 KU Defense Ranked 94
  7. 2014 KU Defense Ranked 97
  8. 2014 KU Head Coach 1-7

(These are points per game allowed rankings)

This massive campaign for Bowen to become head coach might be one of the most irrational experiences I've ever witnessed in my life.

This all boils down to one question and one question only:

Do you want KU football to win or not ?

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 7 months ago

But he is from Lawrence High & KU, and he bleeds crimson and blue! ;)

Robert Brown 7 years, 7 months ago

The rankings do not mean a lot since it does not factor in personnel and schedule. No one's defense is rated that high in the Big 12. I know that KU's defense in 2007 was Top 10, but they did not play OU, Texh and UT that year so the statistics are going to look better.

You realize that the hot coordinators are from the best teams that are loaded with 4-star and 5-star players. Since KU does not have these toe of players, there is no guarantee that a hot coordinator will be able to turn around KU's program.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 7 years, 7 months ago

So who do you think KU can hire (seriously, not a pipe dream) that can do a better job?

Ethan Berger 7 years, 7 months ago

Once again you post empty stats. First is was there improvement? In 2008 you obviously can say no but in 2008 we played OU,UT,TTU. All top 10 teams in the nation. 20132014 looks bad but made huge strides, why? The defense under gill was one of the worse we have ever seen. Why still so low, how was our offense? A fact of football is if your offense can't stay on the field, you defense gets worn out. Countless times our defense did their job in the first 2 quarters only to eventually give up a lot of points. Last night Auburn gave up 55 to Alabama. Alabama gave 44. Texas A&M put up huge points first two years in SEC. Why? Elite offense. Alabama cant stop a team with a accurate qb. In Bowens time he has faced Harrell,McCoy,Bradford,RG3,Petty,Boykin and many others. If Alabama can't stop with elite athletes, why should Kansas? We actually played Trickett better then Bama at WVU. Eye test tells me defense outside a couple games did all they could.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Doug, how would you feel about hiring a guy who's background as a defensive coordinator included a national championship, 2 major conference championships, and multiple top 10 defenses, and throw in some NFL experience as a coordinator as well. Is that the kind of resume you want a coordinator to have? Looks good on paper, Florida thought that was a good enough resume to hire Will Muschamp and he last all of 4 years and only had 1 winning regular season.

The stats you're posting for Bowen don't mean a damn thing in regards to how he would do as a head coach because if they did, Muschamp would've been a good head coach instead of in the unemployment line right now.

This is why I've said your use of stats is flawed because they don't predict anything. A much bigger factor in how Bowen would be as a head coach is who he would retain on staff and who he would bring in to replace those coaches who he fires because that impacts recruiting and offensive and defensive philosophies.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 7 months ago

Aaron - cmon man. You have to base a head coaching decision off of something.

He's got to show SOMETHING on a resume that shows the selecting official that he is the best choice at generating wins.

The stats DO mean something. Anyone that has followed this program closely knows that his units havn't performed well. Including the 2012 special teams units. This is a fact...not an opinion.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm good either way. Glad to see that coach Bowen will be involved somehow. I still think it's a free pass for Zenger if he hires Bowen and it doesn't work out, but if he hires anyone else who fails he might need to pack his bags. Brett you made very good sense. Progress over a sustained period is the only thing to get KU football out of this slump.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 7 months ago

I think that Zenger saying Bowen will be involved is telling us it won't Bowen at the helm. I've been told that we've made our selection but have to wait until the season is over next week to name our man. To me that points more toward it not being Bowen and that may be a good thing for him. Groom he a bit more and eventually he gets the reins. We'll see but my source is usually pretty in the know. Although, I'm speculating that it won't be Bowen. They simply said after the season ends next week we'll have our answer. That just tells me it's someone that still has one game left to coach.

Bill Kackley 7 years, 7 months ago

"Ashwin Rao, down the road in Manhatten they don't get the big name recruits either, they just get kids who have some talent, a lot of heart and are willing to learn and turn them into very good football players. Most years when I see the rankings of the recruiting classes, we are right with KSU or ahead of them. They just win games

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 7 months ago

And good coaches that use their talents to produce.

I agree, less emphasis on talent, more on making use of them to win games (like K-State)

David Atchley 7 years, 7 months ago

Reports are Chad Morris has agreed in-principle with SMU for a reported $3M a year. Another name worth mentioning is Rhett Lashlee the OC at Auburn. Much like Charlie Strong last year, and Morris this year, Lashlee will be an HC at a major school very soon.

Kansas has squandered the luxury of taking a chance on an unproven coordinator who record this year is moral victories and apparently getting the players to play as if they were on a scholarship.

They must hire an experienced Major Program Head Coach or Assistant. The program is at least 5-6 years behind and someone hired needs to be able to have an established pipeline into high schools in Texas, and to bring in an established staff for player development.

Otherwise, the AD from some obscure Missouri Valley Conference, will hire a coach that is of Missouri Valley Conference caliber, and not worth of a Power 5 Conference team.

David Atchley 7 years, 7 months ago

SMU is far from being an easier job as the "death penalty" after all these years still casts a large shadow over the program. Morris takes the job as he waits his turn at his alma mater Texas A&M. However, he will immediately effect change with the equity and pelts on the wall he's collected with 3 State High School Championships in Texas. SMU's athletic department doesn't pay the HC salary, and its paid by the boosters passing the collection plate.

You're correct Lashlee hasn't recruited in Texas. However the bigger point is an HC with an established pipeline into the riches found in the South and Texas. His pipeline of top offensive athletes from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi has Auburn enjoying the fruits of his labor.

The bigger point is that is the type of HC Kansas has to target. There are many choices, and picking the proverbial lowest hanging fruit business model of the "Hiring Committee" must change with this next hire.

By the time A&M, OU, Texas, TCU, Baylor, LSU, Arkansas, Oklahoma State have selected their recruits, what is left are the Michael Cummings type athletes. He received offers from Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and Kansas. In order to get a seat at the table for 1st and 2nd tier athletes in Texas High School sports, you need to find a HC that either has an established pipeline in Texas, or in the deep south.

The Missouri Valley Conference mentality at Kansas needs an intervention. Its way past time to act "Power 5 Conference-like" in the decision making process. The interim HC at Kansas wouldn't be on any Power 5 Conference list for an HC position, and is more suited for the Missouri State vacancy.

The argument for hiring him because "he wants the job" is the same mentality that hired the current AD from some obscure Missouri Valley School. Its the same mentality that hired Charlie Weis. None of those examples are Power 5 Conference worthy.

Bowen deserves an "atta-boy" for his role in the interim. However, moral victories and getting players to want to play like they're on scholarship, would never get him considered at any other Power 5 Conference school.

Though its difficult for the Kansas nation to contemplate, in addition to the basketball program, their football program is in a Power 5 Conference as well.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 7 months ago

How about a former head coach. Say Will Muschamp? He's out at Florida and definitely has ties to Texas. We could very well land him.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Will Muschamp couldn't win with the unlimited resources available to him at Florida, how is he going to win at KU with much more inferior resources available to him? Will Muschamp is proof that being an elite coordinator at multiple elite programs (Texas, Auburn, LSU) does not guarantee success as a head coach.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 7 months ago

I isn't out of the relm of possibilities but I think he'll end up at Texas A&M as the DC.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Why is Will Muschamp as head coach a good idea? KU made that hire with Weis. A great coordinator who had a good record by KU standards as HC, but not by the standard of the school he was at.

I don't know if he's going to A&M, but I know ally Aggie friends want him as DC, and it is a logical move for him.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 7 months ago

Unless you have a crystal ball my statement that it isn't out of the relm of possibilities is a true statement. Do I want him? I'd slightly more excited than I was about Weis and I was pretty pissed then. You and I don't get to make the hire and if we did I'm guessing we'd do the same thing Zinger is doing and trying to make this pick carefully. If he screws this up he'll be on the hunt for a job. I don't know if Bowen is a slam dunk and I'm well aware his a good dude and bleeds crimson and blue. I think given a chance he could make the right moves to make the improvements. And guys have pointed to his special teams coaching and other position and DC stents. Sometimes I think there is a big difference between the two and he may very well be a better HC than a coordinator. I don't think we'll have to wait long. I think we'll know who the coach is in the next 10 days and then we can talk about what they need to do to make things better. We can hope they can get some recruits for next year and keep the ones we have.

Chris Gilbertson 7 years, 7 months ago

Bo Pelini is now available how about him? He's constantly won at least 9 games year in and year out at Nebraska, and his players love him.

Troy Abel 7 years, 7 months ago

Allow me to add my "irrational" two cents while I clear the "colseslaw" from my head. While the stats that Mr. Cramer have shown are irrefutable I sincerely hope we do not hire someone base solely on statistics again. Look at where that has gotten us. Clint has been involved in two successful eras at KU One as a player under Mason, and one as an assistant under Mangino. He know what that looks and more importantly feels like. He has these kids believing they belong on the same field with the rest of this conference. The reason he does is because he is genuine. Being the best position coach or coordiantor does not make you a good head coach. I would trade all of those statisitical categories for good leadership. I believe that is what this team needs, and I don't believe we are going to find anyone as capable or dedicated to providing it at this point in time than Clint Bowen.

David Atchley 7 years, 7 months ago

Glen Mason was 47-54 overall (aka easy non-con schools) and in Conference play was only 25-38 overall.

Mark Mangino was 50-48 overall (again aka easy non-con schedule) and in Conference play was 23-41 overall.

Both were horrible in Conference play and neither will sniff a Power 5 Conference HC position again. Since both of those Coaches were at Kansas, there has been a paradigm shift in strength of schedule for consideration in bowl games and national rankings.

He hasn't been on any notable and successful "coaching tree." Bowen isn't Power 5 Conference ready. He needs more seasoning under a recognized and successful program. Texas A&M needs a DC, and there will be many more opportunities in the next couple of weeks.

Otherwise, a Missouri Valley opening such as Missouri State is where he should go to learn the business of being an HC. Kansas has to stop choosing HC that don't have the ability to be hired elsewhere. They simply don't have that luxury.

David Atchley 7 years, 7 months ago

I believe the point was claiming they were "two successful eras" under those coaches. There records by "Kansas Football" standards my be stoic and the Kansas Football program is forever in "rebuilding mode." That is bigger point to all of this conversation.

Mason did more to unravel his work by announcing he was going to Georgia...than reneging and spent a lame-duck year at Kansas while recruiting went elsewhere. I am a big fan of Mark Mangino, and believe had he not been terminated, this program would be on solid footing.

I happen to know and I am very familiar with the recruiting efforts and pipeline in Texas. Mangino still enjoys and has another Lake Travis commit, "Alex Delira" that is from the same alma mater as another Mangino recruit, Todd Reesing.

Mike Barnhart 7 years, 7 months ago

Who on earth would want this lousy job??? ...I'm sick of this sentiment!

There are only 64 power conference jobs. Charlie and Turner were not top 64 coaches. I'm saying there's more than one top 30 coach out there (assistant, pro, recently fired) who see's KU as a perennial bowl team. Great setting, very good facilities, passionate boosters and a fan base that sold out the stadium just 6 years ago.

If Zenger finds one of those guys, we'll see immediate improvement and a bowl game within 3 years.

Al Martin 7 years, 7 months ago

We all may be sick of this sentiment (I know I am), but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Mike Stoops was cautioned away from the KU job after the Gill firing. We are simply not very attractive right now, given our recent records and our recent behavior.

Greg Ledom 7 years, 7 months ago

TA - your comment of "I would trade all of those statistical categories for good leadership.", may be the best comment I've seen on this topic in recent weeks. I totally agree. Show me a good leader, and I'll show you a successful progam, no matter what it is. Clint is that leader. Go through the process and due dilligence and then hire Bowen to lead this program.

David Kemp 7 years, 7 months ago

Bo Pellini just fired . Bet he gets some consideration as possible candidate for job.

David Kemp 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry this guy is not going to take an asst with his record he is a HC

David Kemp 7 years, 7 months ago

We need a guy with Bo's personality. Our guys are soft and undisciplined

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 7 months ago

Two words. Rich Rodriguez Two more words: Charlie Weis

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Depends on how much he wants to be at a major program. DC at A&M is somewhere he could realistically go although all Aggies I know want Muschamp as DC.

I personally wouldn't mind Pelini at KU as HC if he's interested.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

If Pelini wants to remain a HC, it's not going to be an upper tier P5 program because only 3 of them are going to be open this year and he was fired from one of them. His options to remain as a HC are go to a lower level P5 school (like Kansas), or a top level non P5 school. If he wants to remain at a top level P5 school, it's going to be as a DC. Pelini doesn't have the personality to sit out and wait around. Nebraska was a train wreck when he took over for Callahan and got them back to where Solich had them winning 9-10 games a season. He may not be interested in the KU job, but that's a phone call that has to be made to gauge interest and go from there.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 7 months ago

A friend of mine went out in KC and ran into Harbaughs brother in law. He said Harbaughs wife wants him to stay in San Fran or coach KU. Obviously not a credible source because it's just a friend of mine but it's an interesting story at least.

Kevin Randell 7 years, 7 months ago

Though Harbaugh would be a HUGE reach, I really think he is going to go to Oakland if he is let go by the 49'ers.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 7 months ago

Yea I'm sure you're right. But hell we can at least dream right? Lol Not much else to look forward to with KU football.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 7 months ago

With the issues with UAB, obviously their coach Bill Clark will be available... he seems to be young, and seems to have turned around a couple of bad programs... do you think he is worth giving chance? We can get him cheaper than most, and have him prove that he is good...

Logan Johnson 7 years, 7 months ago

How have all of you forgotten about Ed Warinner? He is by far and over the perfect combination of what every Bowen lover wants and what "hire elsewhere" want. Look right under your noses.

Robert Brown 7 years, 7 months ago

There was an article on the blog Rock Chalk Talk where one of the writers interviewed someone froma comparable blog for Ohio State asking about Warinner. It was not the most flattering portrait. According to the article, Warinner does not call the plays, he is not the best recruiter and is not that dynamic of a speaker. They did say he has done wonders with the offensive line and that he wants to be a head coach.

Logan Johnson 7 years, 7 months ago

Robert, please find Warinner listed as a "Top 25 Recruiter of 2014" here:

Secondly, Warinner is the type of coach that takes mediocre players and turns them into great players; to see this, look at his accomplishments with his players at Kansas, Notre Dame, & Ohio State. Look deeply at Ohio State, both his lines from the past two years were AWFUL until Warinner got his hands on them. He molded them into two of the best lines in the country. This is what Kansas especially needs because we will not land top recruits regardless of who we hire.

Third, as a play caller at our very own KU, Warinner set many of the offensive records. Also, calling Warinner not a dynamic speaker is unusual considering his many invitations to speak to both college and professional football coaches at clinics in Vegas and other hubs.

Brett: He is not proven as a head coach, I agree, but Bowen is definitely proven; proven that as a head coach he gives up an all time FBS rushing record to a freshman AND 95 points in his last two games. Wait... isn't Bowen a defensive minded coach???? Hang on though, he beat a 2-9 Iowa State.. impressive...

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