Originally published December 19, 2019 at 2:09 p.m., updated December 19, 2019 at 3:10 p.m.
Although he has spent most of his professional life on the sidelines with the Kansas football program for which he played, longtime Jayhawks assistant Clint Bowen has left KU.
As first reported Thursday afternoon by the Journal-World, Bowen, KU’s safeties coach during Les Miles’ first season with the Jayhawks, was announced as the new defensive coordinator at North Texas.
"It had to be the perfect situation for me to leave KU,” Bowen stated in a release from UNT, “and that is exactly what UNT offers. Coach (Seth) Littrell is so well respected in the coaching profession and has established a foundation and culture at UNT that puts the program in position for tremendous success. I am excited to be a part of the future of Mean Green football."
Bowen just completed his 21st overall season on the KU football staff. He worked for former head coaches David Beaty and Charlie Weis, too, during his most recent stint, from 2012 to 2019. He spent the 2014-18 seasons as KU’s defensive coordinator.
Littrell described Bowen as a “huge addition” to the Mean Green coaching staff, noting Bowen’s experience on the defensive side of the ball.
"He has been successful throughout his career, and is someone I respect greatly,” Littrell stated. “I can't wait to bring him into our family and culture and give him the opportunity to leave a great mark on our program."
A defensive back for the Jayhawks back in the early 1990s, Bowen even served as the interim head coach at KU in 2014, following Weis’ firing. The Jayhawks went 1-7 during their final eight games, with Bowen in charge, picking up a late-season home win over Iowa State.
With the move to North Texas and head coach Seth Littrell’s staff, Bowen returns to a Mean Green program where he spent one year as a defensive coordinator in 2011, for then UNT head coach Dan McCarney. Bowen also worked at Western Kentucky, in 2010, during that brief hiatus from KU.
His coaching career began at KU in 1998, and outside of one year as a graduate assistant elsewhere, he was a mainstay on the coaching staff in one role or another through 2009, working for former head coach Mark Mangino during the height of the program’s success.
The UNT release announcing Bowen’s hiring included a comment from Mangino.
"Clint will do an outstanding job as UNT's new defensive coordinator,” the former KU head coach predicted. “He is an exceptional teacher of fundamentals and schemes and does it with with a tireless work ethic. He played a key role in our success at Kansas and is also an intense recruiter that knows how to build relationships. Clint and his wonderful family will be a positive addition to the Mean Green family.”
Mark Mangino’s son, Tommy, is an offensive quality control coach at UNT.
When Bowen was just getting started, he broke into the profession as a defensive graduate assistant at KU in 1996 on head coach Glen Mason’s staff. After one year at Minnesota as a grad assistant, he came back to KU in 1998 as a grad assistant for Terry Allen. Bowen became assistant director of football operations in 2000.
In 2001, he got his first shot as a full-time assistant as KU’s special teams coordinator, a position he would keep when Mangino took over the program ahead of the 2002 season.
Bowen also coached tight ends, running backs and safeties while serving as the special teams coordinator. In 2006, Mangino promoted Bowen to co-defensive coordinator, and he also coached safeties. Bowen became the lone defensive coordinator before the 2008 season, and the Jayhawks won the Insight Bowl that year.
A Lawrence native, Bowen starred at Lawrence High before playing at KU, where he led the team in tackles in 1993 with 114. He played one season at Butler Community College and three at KU: 1990, 1992 and 1993.