Saturday, October 11, 2014


Column: Bowen’s passion, intensity rubbing off on Jayhawks

Kansas interim head coach Clint Bowen talks to senior Michael Reynolds just before the Jayhawks take the field Saturday afternoon. Kansas dropped the game 27-20 to Oklahoma State.

Kansas interim head coach Clint Bowen talks to senior Michael Reynolds just before the Jayhawks take the field Saturday afternoon. Kansas dropped the game 27-20 to Oklahoma State.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bowen talks improvements, breakdowns after loss to OSU

Kansas University football interim head coach Clint Bowen talks about his team's improvement, and the breakdowns that allowed Oklahoma State to win, 27-20 — most notably, Tyreek Hill's 99-yard touchdown return on a kickoff after KU tied the game in the fourth quarter. Plus, plenty more from Bowen on the ...

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Box score

Two games, both losses, don’t supply enough evidence for Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger to call off the coaching search and remove the interim tag from Clint Bowen.

Yet, anybody who hasn’t seen a serious change in the way the team plays either isn’t watching, doesn’t want to see it, is blinded by Bowen’s lack of celebrity, or all of the above.

The passion the intense defensive coordinator has instilled in his team in just two weeks is nothing short of impressive.

Tied with the nation’s 16th-ranked college football team midway through the fourth quarter, Kansas lost to Oklahoma State, 27-20, Saturday in Memorial Stadium, but in so many ways, the gains made by the program overshadowed the loss.

The more athletes put into something, the more it stings when the effort doesn’t result in a victory.

“They’re hurting right now,” Bowen said in the post-game press conference. 

Senior defensive tackle Keon Stowers took the hurt he felt and saw in the locker room as a positive sign.

“We had guys with tears rolling down their faces after the game because we have 85 guys working their butts off in practice to go for one common goal, to win, win, win," Stowers said. "It showed out there. We were scratching and fighting to the last second and we came up short, but we can build on that.”

Two weeks into Bowen adding interim head coach to his D.C. responsibilities, his defense hasn’t allowed a second-half point.

Second halves exhaust players, but not as much as Bowen’s practices, which feature players running from spot to spot, staring into the faces of other first-stringers and hitting each other hard.

“Practice has been physical and it shows on the field,” Stowers said. “What (former All-American quarterback) David Jaynes told the team when he came in to talk to us, he said, ‘You have to practice how you’re going to play and if you don’t, it’s going to correlate to the field,’ is true. I feel like the NFL-style practices we had with coach (Charlie) Weis, we didn’t really hit, ones didn’t go against ones. Now, coach Bowen, he’s turning it up.”

Bowen’s intensity rubs off on the players, Stowers said.

“If he sees anybody jogging or doing anything besides sprinting, oh, you’re getting chewed out,” Stowers said. “You’re getting chewed out. It’s just because he cares. You could see it in his eyes when he was talking to us after the game. He was teary-eyed. He cares about us. He cares about the university. He cares about the well-being of the players and that’s what we needed this whole time and you can see that it’s showing on the field.”

Senior outside linebacker/defensive end Michael Reynolds had the wind knocked out of him on a play in which he forced a fumble. Not long after an extended stay on his back, he was back chasing the quarterback, celebrating the big plays, smacking himself on the helmet for the near misses.

“We love coach Bowen,” Reynolds said. “He brings so much enthusiasm and passion to the game and to us all week, every day, meetings, practice, everything. We love it, and it really fires us up and makes us want to play even harder for him. He makes sure we’re running everywhere and getting us tired to implement how we have to finish in the fourth quarter.”

Bowen made two major mid-game personnel changes on offense during his debut loss at West Virginia, replacing Montell Cozart with Michael Cummings at quarterback, Keyon Haughton with Joe Gibson at center.

Both moves, especially at QB, have had a Lazarus-like impact on the offense, but just as important as that was the urgency with which they were made. Football is the most intense of all team sports and it presents constant tests of an athlete's decision-making abilities, toughness and confidence. Kansas showed progress in all those areas Saturday.

"On the sideline, I don't think there was a single guy who didn't think we would win the game," said Ben Heeney, who fired up teammates at halftime with a take-charge talk.

The interim head coach expressed his confidence in the team.

"I'm not so sure our team has to take a back seat to anybody," Bowen said. "We show up any given day and compete."

One-fourth of the way through his eight-game job interview, Bowen hasn't done anything but help himself, but six very difficult challenges remain, beginning with a trip to Lubbock for a Saturday game against Texas Tech.


Bill Kackley 8 years, 1 month ago

DAMN STRAIGHT, only ones I'm upset with are the lackluster fans who didn't show up for the game. Hire Bowen, he's a real Jayhawk.

Ian Ballinger 8 years, 1 month ago

Being on the other side of the state stinks. I got to go to the CMU game... most fun i've had in a long time.

HUGE step forward for the program today. I seriously thought we were going to pull the upset. Very proud of the team. I like what I've seen from Coach Bowen so far. I hope it works out and he gets the job, because you can tell how much he cares about the university, the team and the state. Rock Chalk.... can't wait to see how they do versus Texas Tech.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month ago

What happened in WV that should have changed any fans expectations and weekend plans BEFORE the OSU game; that should have led to a bigger crowd?

You are bound to be very upset if you expect the collective thinking of an entire fan base to change significantly in less than a season after 5 seasons of what has appeared on the field. Historically speaking, it will take a year or two for things to change significantly in the stands after they change on the field, or at least that is what I have witnessed at several schools that have had program turn arounds. The players usually expect instant change in fan support, but it takes more than a good effort in a loss to get the missing fans to change their weekend plans - especially after 5 years of what we've seen.

Steve Hillyer 8 years, 1 month ago

Calm down, it's been two games and I haven't seen anything to suggest he is head coaching material for a BCS program, don't even think about stopping the coaching search. Too many penalties, too many players out of position, poor fundamentals.

Ian Ballinger 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm not saying the team is where it should be, but it's just what you said.... it's been two games. In those two games we've held talented offenses scoreless in the second half, played the #16 team in the nation to the last second and we've seen an obvious change in player morale.... the team looks a lot more fired up. I want the best coach we can get for this team...... i just really hope that guy is Bowen.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm with you Steve and not yet ready to jump on the Bowen for Coach bandwagon.

I'm very happy a local kid has been given a good shot. I watched him closely during yesterdays game and love his enthusiasm and visible leadership. He kind of reminded me of George Washington on the front lines engaged and giving orders. Washington was always the underdog, outmanned in everyway but managed to escape, keep the team together and maintain a fighting spirit. He defiantly does not lead from behind.

If he can continue the good show, I'm all in favor of removing the "interim" tag to give him a shot, depending on the type of contract he's offered. Since it's unknown if he can maintain his high intensity and he does not have a proven record, a large guaranteed contract does not seem to be in order. A 3-year, $500k annual base, laden with all kinds of incentives, (i.e. $100 k per win + bonus for bowl win, depending on the bowl), should provide enough to see if he has what it takes to succeed with a BCS team. If Bowen works out, his second contract would have a more competitive base with guarantees.

However, if Harbaugh becomes an option, we really need to pursue him, even if it cost $5MM p.a. Harbaugh has a proven record, in college and the pros, and has earned it.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 1 month ago

I say $500,000 base salary, $100,000 per win up to 6 wins, $200,000 per win above 6 wins including bowl game. $200,000 extra for conference title. $200,000 extra for National COY award. $250,000 extra per win in College Football Playoff.

The max payout would be $500,000 + $600,000 (1st 6 wins) + $1.2MM (second 6 wins + $200,000 (Conference Champs) + $200,000 (COY award) + $500,000 (two wins in CFP) = $3.2MM for the perfect season.

A 6 win regular season and a bowl win would earn a total of $500,000 + $600,000 (first 6 wins) + $200,000 (7th win, bowl game) = $1.3MM

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

That's a good starter contract for an unproven HC. Let him earn his way to a second, more lucrative (hopefully) contract.

I'd put more bonus on a conference championship or college playoff win... like $1MM, atleast. If we get a coach that can lead us to a Conference Championship, that would me Memorial Stadium sellouts and tons of money flowing in. I'd like for him to receive the appropriate compensation.

COY is too subjective, such as last year's bball coy going to Barnes. Barnes is a really good guy. I can't help but think some of his votes came from sympatric coaches wanting him to keep his job.

Jerry Walker 8 years, 1 month ago

This team is starting to resemble some of the "Fighting Mangino" squads of the past. Out-manned but not out-hustled. Credit goes to coach Bowen for sweeping out the laissez faire coaching style of Weis. Saturday was a good day to be a Jayhawk...with a hearty thanks to the "Brawling Bowens".

I'm hoping that coach Reagan is spotted this week in practice sprinting between he revamps his offensive scheme. If he can make as much improvement as the players we may really be on to something.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 1 month ago

Keegan is right...this is defense is playing much better.

Keegan is also correct that it's not enough to call off a coaching search.

Too many penalties and Undisciplined play to be considering Bowen as our next coach. I do give him credit for the change of attitude and energy we seem to have absorbed.

Micky Baker 8 years, 1 month ago

275 yards total offense by OSU. You don't even think Bowen should be DC.

You predicted at least 45 given up at West Virginia and predicted OSU would score 50. When will you admit that my reasoning was right, it was the head coach and yours wasn't?

Mangino isn't coming back.

Doug Cramer 8 years, 1 month ago

Micky - I will admit...I was wrong about the scores of both West Virginia and now Ok State.

Regarding who was right about our head coach...ugh...I'd be glad to point u toward a long paper trail of comments from me...that requested a change in head coach that goes back to mid season 2013.

The jury is still out on Bowen. Don't count your Jayhawks before they hatch. We still got a long season ahead.

But I do give him credit for the improvement in attitude and energy.

Micky Baker 8 years, 1 month ago

I understand that. You said everyone should be dismissed except for a couple of guys including Campo. You want Bowen GONE from KANSAS. You went out of your way to state that. His defense is the one that held OSU to 275 total yards, and under 70 in the second half. Two weeks in a row, they have shut out the opposing offense in the second half.

Any way, the reasoning was with decisions being made by the QB, and not his inability as a football player. Cummings makes decisions must faster and as a result of that, more plays were called that hadn't been called before. That is because we sustained drives longer and the series had more plays.

You weren't just a little wrong about the scores, and your reasoning was that Bowen is the DC. It's time for you to grow up and start acting like you graduated finally.

Jim Jackson 8 years, 1 month ago

Whatever happens, Bowen and Mitchell will be a part of the staff next year.

Rock Chalk, those guys fought hard yesterday.

Sean Kelly 8 years, 1 month ago

Bowen seems to be well regarded within the coaching community and though it's a bit early indeed to call off the coaching search, I do believe he's working his way toward the top three options for Zenger.

This defense is playing fairly well and that's a direct result of his coaching and influence. I believe we're already seeing the results of his emphasis on attention to detail particularly on offense where things have tightened up quite a bit. I'd say we all need to be realistic about what this program is and isn't when we're automatically discounting him as HC material.

The Kansas job is not particularly attractive at this time and I think some of the posters here have been slow to accept that fact. Mangino isn't coming back nor do I think he should, it's likely he took the program as far as he could and for that I think we all should be grateful. His unwillingness to lower himself to recruit properly was a huge factor in sealing his fate. That was the key to KU taking the next step toward sustained success.

Many of us seem to be searching high and low for sexier candidates, but we might need to consider that the best man for the job is already here.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 1 month ago

When hiring a coach, we need to look for 3 things.

First is, is he a teacher? Can he easily communicate schemes and have it executed.

Second is, is he a motivater? Are players willing to run through a brick wall for him.

Third is, is he a builder? Does he hire the right staff, recruit the right players and does he see the big picture. A great coach has all 3, a good coach has 2, if he has 1, he isn't head coach material. Mangino was a teacher and builder but I'm not convinced he players would run through a brick wall for him. Charlie was a builder but not good with the players. He hired some good staff and brought some talent. Bowen clearly is a motivator and seems to be a teacher. But can he build and maintain success. Campo might be the teacher behind everything so I don't know if its Bowen or not. Our D has made some huge strides since the Gill era. Switching out the center,qb, and hanging the ball off to Pierson was smart. I like our staff. Our RT and LG is a huge weakness right now. 78 got beat to many times and didn't handle the stunt well. Dispite that our O looked at its best since the Gill era. Saturday will show if this is growth or a fluke. Tech has improved a bunch since the first 3 weeks. Big 12 is as tough as it has been in a long time. I like Bowen, hopefully he keeps it up.

Jim Stauffer 8 years, 1 month ago

I think anyone wanting Kelly Donahoo (sp) to show any real interest in KU is dreaming. We can't even get a sniff of his good players to come to KU.

AJ Cleland 8 years, 1 month ago

For those of you pining for a "big name" coach, don't forget: Bill Snyder, prior to being hired at KState, was the OC at Iowa for 9 years. Prior to that he was a relatively unknown. Bowen has been an assistant/DC for the past 14 years. I am sure some of you history buffs can also weigh in with coaches that have become successful after being basically unknown. Give Bowen his shot!

John Randall 8 years, 1 month ago

My comment on Clint Bowen for head coach: Lots of options could be worse, only a few would likely be both better and available.

At the very least, CB keeps us out of the position of complete desperation. I'd hate to see Dr Zenger swing for the fence again and come up as short as last time.

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