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Monday, September 29, 2014

Lifetime around KU football eases Bowen’s transition to interim coach

Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who took over as interim head coach until a replacement for Charlie Weis is found, holds a press conference Monday morning.

Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who took over as interim head coach until a replacement for Charlie Weis is found, holds a press conference Monday morning.

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Mike Yoder

Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who took over as interim head coach until a replacement for Charlie Weis is found, holds a press conference Monday morning.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU introduces Clint Bowen as interim head football coach

Clint Bowen, newly named interim head football coach at Kansas University, made a few introductory remarks and fielded questions from the media on September 29, 2014 — the day after KU fired Charlie Weis and placed Bowen in charge of the program.

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Podcast episode

Spodcasters

Why Clint Bowen fits as KU's interim football coach

The Spodcasters, Tom Keegan & Matt Tait, quickly break down why Clint Bowen fits as KU's interim football coach.

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Reader poll

Who should replace Charlie Weis as KU football coach?

  • Clint Bowen: Interim KU head coach, defensive coordinator 25% 746 votes
  • John Reagan: KU offensive coordinator 0% 24 votes
  • Ed Warinner: Ohio State co-offensive coordinator, offensive line coach 12% 362 votes
  • David Beaty: Texas A&M receivers coach, recruiting coordinator 8% 254 votes
  • Tim Beck: Nebraska offensive coordinator 1% 54 votes
  • Eric Kiesau: KU receivers coach 0% 10 votes
  • Dave Doeren: N.C. State head coach 9% 277 votes
  • Jim Leavitt: San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach 8% 239 votes
  • Chad Morris: Clemson offensive coordinator 2% 69 votes
  • Butch Davis: Former NFL and college coach 3% 96 votes
  • Mark Mangino: Iowa State offensive coordinator, tight ends coach 17% 511 votes
  • Other: Suggest another name in the comments 7% 228 votes

2870 total votes.

The sign on the podium he proudly stood behind read “Kansas Jayhawk Football Head Coach Clint Bowen.”

The word “interim” was nowhere to be found. And, really, it didn’t need to be there anyway. For the next nine weeks — eight games and a bye — Bowen is the Kansas University football coach.

He looked, sounded and acted every bit of that during his introductory news conference with local media Monday morning. With emotion in his eyes, passion in his voice and pride in his posture, Lawrence’s native son shared his visions of what the program could become under his leadership.

Bowen believes in Kansas football. He’s won bowl games here as a player. He’s worked under two coaches — Glen Mason and Mark Mangino — who proved you could win at KU. And Bowen said he was honored to be able to try to follow in their footsteps.

“Anyone that would consider this a stepping-stone job is an idiot,” Bowen said with conviction. “This is a destination job.”

And now that job is his — at least for the next couple of months. If things go well and Bowen and the Jayhawks get hot, he may be able to keep it long term. But the 42-year-old Lawrence High and KU grad said angling for the job permanently was the furthest thing from his mind right now. That’s why he did not dwell on the past. Nor did he look too far into the future. Instead, he focused on today, this team and the moment he’s been dreaming about for as long as he could remember.

“I’ve never known a day of my life that I wasn’t a KU football fan,” he said. “I grew up a Lawrence guy. I grew up coming to KU football games. So to be standing here today is truly one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had in my life. I’m prepared for this job. I’m prepared to take this thing for the next nine weeks and do the best job that I possibly can.”

For now, that means preparing for Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at West Virginia (2-2). After all, Bowen is still the team’s defensive coordinator and he does still have to come up with a plan to slow down a Mountaineers offense that’s averaging 38 points and 354 yards a game and already this season has stayed within a couple of scores of Alabama and Oklahoma.

“Based on yesterday, yes (that is) a challenge,” said Bowen of a Sunday practice described by some as “insane” because of all of the energy on the field. “We’ll obviously have to work as efficiently as possible, lean on the other assistant coaches a little bit more and make sure we distribute things out. If it comes down to just spending more hours here, then that’s what we’ll do.”

One of the reasons Bowen seemed so at ease with the tumultuous transition was the comfort he drew from past triumphs and the lessons he’s learned from past failures. He’s seen it all at Kansas, stood at the top of the mountain and felt the frustration of being up to his eyes in quicksand. KU’s new leader is pumped for the opportunity, but he’s not about to try to set a new course and go it alone. Monday, he thanked the current KU staff that “jumped onboard 100 percent, with great attitudes, great energy.” He also tipped his cap to Mason and Mangino, explaining that this team, for at least the next nine weeks, would remind people a lot of the teams that played for those guys.

“Honestly, I don’t feel any pressure,” Bowen said. “I really don’t. I feel like we have a way of operating that’s proven successful at the University of Kansas. I’ve seen the blueprint before here. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a turnaround in the Glen Mason era, in the Mark Mangino era. I feel like we have the stamp of how it works at Kansas. We’re going to implement that plan, and I don’t feel any pressure because I believe that it works. I know it works.”

Last Saturday night, Bowen was stewing over a 23-0 loss to Texas in which his defense was solid throughout but simply could not make up for the struggles of the KU offense. He went to bed that night prepared for another 7 a.m. Sunday trip to the office to grade film and try to come up with yet another way to inspire his guys to move forward. He never thought that 7 a.m. trip would feature a phone call from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, and he never thought moving forward would be like this. On Monday, he remembered a time when such a scenario first crossed his mind.

“About 20 years ago, one of the first dates with my wife at what used to be the ice cream shop on 23rd Street,” recalled Bowen, setting the scene for a trip down Memory Lane. “I was a (graduate assistant) at the time and was trying to impress her a little bit and she said, ‘What are you going to be in life?’ or whatever that question is, and I said, ‘Well, I’m going to be the head football coach at Kansas.’”

He is exactly that today. And what happens in the next 61 days could determine how long it stays that way.

Comments

John Myers 8 years, 2 months ago

I have no idea how Clint is gonna fare as interim coach, but if you don't LOVE the fact that he's getting this chance, then you're not a Jayhawk.

Ian Ballinger 8 years, 2 months ago

We're all pulling for you Clint. Rock Chalk Jayhawk ALWAYS!

Richard Duran 8 years, 2 months ago

Good luck man. I was at KU the same time he played and he was intense as a player. Give the ball to Mann and Avery 200 times a game!

Josh White 8 years, 2 months ago

Run the ball more. I think Cozart would have been a better runner than a passer and use Avery more. I do think it is time to try out a different QB too

Adam McEwen 8 years, 2 months ago

Never really heard Clint talk before, but I like this guy's no BS attitude. I remember watching him as a player, and if I had to describe him in one word it'd be "scrappy" Maybe just what we need to fix this mess, we've got some athletes, we need some swagger.

David Kelley-Wood 8 years, 2 months ago

Clint: “Anyone that would consider this a stepping-stone job is an idiot,” Bowen said with conviction. “This is a destination job.”

YES!!! This feels sooo right!

Lonnie Ross Dillon 8 years, 2 months ago

Reminds of Don Fambrough in terms of the fire. The fact that he grew up in Lawrence means even more.

Mike Barnhart 8 years, 2 months ago

I'd give Zenger an "F" for hiring Charlie and a "B+" for canning him this early. This 8 game tryout might suggest Clint Bowen is in over his head or it might suggest he's the next Mike Gundy. I think we'd all be thrilled with the latter!

Brandon Snook 8 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to think that even the harshest/most pessimistic critics of Coach Bowen still wish him the best in the next 9 weeks. This man bleeds Crimson & Blue.

Chandler Accipiter 8 years, 2 months ago

Nice to see a head coach who can stand up to address a room!

Jim Stauffer 8 years, 2 months ago

It would the fairy tale of all fairy tales if Clint was successful. I fear that won't happen unless he opens up the QB job and gives everyone a shot.

Brian Skelly 8 years, 2 months ago

More than anything you just hope Clint Bowen keeps these guys focused and grinding away.    My guess is that's something he'll get accomplished.    I dont know what the magic number of wins he'd need to pull off to be considered for the job is,  but my guess is that number is achievable.     We'll see.    It's hard to envision any of the candidates wanting more out of KU football than the guy we've got in there now.    Good luck to you Clint!

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm really disappointed. There are going to be some people who call themselves "KU Fans" who will root for Clint to fail just so they can say, "See I told you so". Sad state of affairs for KU fans. Grow up a little.

Curtis Hedrick 8 years, 2 months ago

Just take this group and be competitive. I think there's enough talent to see that happens.

Robert Brown 8 years, 2 months ago

All most people asked of Gill or Weis was that they field a competitive team. If KU lost to Duke 35-24 and to Texas 17-13, Weis would still be here. We really haven't been competitive for five years.

While there is some revisionist history about Mangino, one thing that cannot be denied is that his teams played hard and were competitive. I remember blowing a lot of 4th quarter leads during his tenure which also means we were in the game in the 4th quarter with a chance to win. At least, every Saturday under Mangino, I always thought there was a chance to win bad in some cases, I expected to win. Under Gill and Weis, I pretty knew what was coming but was always hopeful.

To me, even if we lose every game, but play competitively, Bowen will have exceeded expectations.

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