Friday, April 30, 2021

KU hires Lance Leipold to take over Jayhawks’ football program

The University of Kansas hired former Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold on April 30, 2021. Leipold is pictured in this file photo during the second half of the Mid-American Conference championship NCAA college football game against Northern Illinois, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The University of Kansas hired former Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold on April 30, 2021. Leipold is pictured in this file photo during the second half of the Mid-American Conference championship NCAA college football game against Northern Illinois, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


A little more than three weeks after taking over an athletic department with no head football coach in place, new University of Kansas AD Travis Goff filled the high profile vacancy, hiring Lance Leipold to lead the Big 12’s perpetually rebuilding program.

The former head coach at Buffalo in the MAC and Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, where Leipold won six national championships, the 56-year-old heads to Lawrence with a combined 147-39 record as a college head coach, agreeing to a six-year contract with KU.

“It is an exciting and humbling opportunity, and this is a day I will never forget,” Leipold stated in a KU release, in which he also thanked KU Chancellor Doug Girod and Goff for the opportunity to become KU’s head football coach.

“We are going to build this program through developing players, discipline and determination,” Leipold said. “The philosophies engrained in our programs along the way will be key as we turn this around. This is a program that has a lot of young talent on the roster and has the infrastructure in place to succeed. The best days for this program are ahead, and my family and I are ecstatic to be a part of it. I am ready to get to work and give everything I have to the Jayhawks. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”

Goff, who called this “a tremendous day” for KU, said in his statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome Leipold and his family to Lawrence.

“He is a man of integrity, a developer of young men, a program builder and a winner,” Goff stated. “His track record of sustained excellence is exactly what we were looking for in our next leader, and is what the University of Kansas and our fans deserve. His commitment to maximizing our (players’) abilities and experience on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and in life after KU is inspiring. Those qualities will attract individuals and develop them into exceptional Jayhawks.”

Leipold spent the previous six seasons at Buffalo, going 37-33 (.529). He left for his first crack at a Power Five job after getting the program rolling. In the past three years, the Bulls went 24-10 and played in three consecutive bowl games.

KU, of course, hasn’t posted a winning record or received a bowl invite since 2008.

This past year, Buffalo entered the Associated Press’ top 25 for the first time in program history, appearing as high as No. 23 late in the season. Leipold led the program to a 6-1 record in 2020, as the Bulls cruised to wins in all but one of their MAC games, and then beat Marshall in the Camellia Bowl, improving the coach’s bowl record to 2-1. Buffalo had never won a bowl game in its first 28 seasons playing at the FBS level.

In Leipold’s last year in charge, Buffalo averaged 43.4 points (No. 5 among all FBS teams) and 478.1 yards of offense (18th nationally), while allowing 21.9 points (30th) and 360.4 yards (35th) in 2020.

In the competitive MAC — a conference that regularly turns out Power Five head coaches — Leipold reshaped Buffalo into one of the league’s best programs. Over the course of the past four seasons, the Bulls won more games (30) than any other team in the conference. A two-time MAC coach of the year, Leipold led the Bulls to a perfect record against division opponents in two of the past three seasons.

Mark Alnutt, Buffalo’s athletic director, lauded Leipold in a release announcing the coach’s resignation.

"I can't thank Lance enough for everything he has done for our football program," Alnutt said. "His vision and leadership helped elevate the UB football brand. We are grateful for what Lance has done here and we wish him and his family all the best as they embark on this new journey.”

Buffalo brought Leipold in to turn around its program after an impressive run at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he went 109-6 and won six NCAA Division III national titles from 2007-14.

Originally from Jefferson, Wisconsin, Leipold played football at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he started at quarterback. He graduated from Whitewater in 1987, shortly thereafter joining the football staff there as a quarterbacks coach. Leipold has been a college coach ever since, with stops as an assistant at Doane and Nebraska-Omaha, as well as stints as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin (1991-93) and an administrative assistant working in recruiting at Nebraska (2001-03) along the way.

According to Goff, KU conducted “an extensive national search” before he decided on Leipold. The AD said the search was “ guided by feedback from many constituents and this opportunity garnered interest from outstanding coaches across the country.”

“We have an obligation to providing a world-class experience for our (players) and that remained at the forefront throughout the search. Additionally, we owe our fans, donors and alumni a football program that will be built for sustained success,” Goff stated. “I am confident that is what we will provide under the leadership of Coach Leipold.”

With the objective of finding a head coach who can actually help KU finish a season with a winning record again, Goff made the hire in his fourth week on the job at KU, after he was chosen to replace former AD Jeff Long, who stepped down in March.

Long came under fire for his vetting process when he hired Les Miles to lead the KU football program in November of 2018. The scrutiny arose once sexual harassment allegations from years past in Miles’ time as LSU’s football coach came to light.

Miles left KU two days before Long, in what was described as a “mutual” parting of ways, setting up another coaching change for the long struggling program, just more than two years after Miles, a national championship winning coach at LSU, was brought in to rebuild KU football.

In what proved to be Miles’ final season at KU, the Jayhawks went 0-9 during a pandemic shortened 2020 season, a year after going 3-9 in Miles’ first year in charge.

Leipold becomes the fifth KU football head coach (not counting interims Emmett Jones and Clint Bowen) since Mark Mangino was forced out following the 2009 season. The Jayhawks have won three or fewer games in each of the 11 seasons since Mangino’s departure, under the guidance of Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty and Miles.

Led by Jones, KU’s receivers coach and passing game coordinator, throughout spring football the past several weeks, the Jayhawks are set to complete their slate on Saturday with their spring game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (6 p.m., on ESPN+).

More reaction to KU football's hiring of Lance Leipold

• KU Sports Hour Podcast: Initial reactions to the Lance Leipold hire

• Substance-over-style approach makes Lance Leipold a great fit for Kansas football

• Lance Leipold's versatility on offense was likely selling point for Kansas football

• No reason to expect KU's roster to fall apart with hiring of Leipold


Waylon Cook 1 year, 5 months ago

This is a way different Buffalo coach than our last experience! KU may have finally gotten this right? I know seems nuts!

Keith Gellar 1 year, 5 months ago

If i had a dollar for everytime i heard this..i would be...lets see - Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen, David Beaty, Les Miles....$6 richer.

Until i don't see wins and a strong move in the positive direction, have 0 expectations #nomoremoralvictories

Waylon Cook 1 year, 5 months ago

Here are how I went through the last 5 coaching hires:

Turner Gill-Beat undefeated Ball State and the media had him played up. Lew screwed the pooch with Harbaugh and tried to find a "darling". Most people with knowledge knew he was not a huge X's and O's football guy, and there were rumours that at GB he was in over his head in front office.

Charlie Weis-He rode around on a golf cart and flashed his 3 Superbowl rings(clearly the reason Tom Brady won ANY Superbowls, has done nothing since CW went to ND!) to recruits at Notre Dame. As we all know Zenger set off to hire the best football coach and comes back with Charlie?????? If people saw him as a savior, they were blind.

Clint Bowen-We all know the KU faithful that will scream from Mount Oread "HE IS A JAYHAWK, HE LOVES KU", when his name is mentioned. He actually did well as the interim Coach, may have been a better HC than coordinator. We don't have to find out anytime soon at least.

David Beaty-I never understood the obsession with KU faithful wanting this guy. "Texas ties" seemed to be a main factor, maybe because he was such a Twitter guru, who knows. Billy Napier was WR coach at Alabama in 2014. Beaty with WR coach at A&M. Bama won 59-0. One turned out to be a great head coach, sadly for KU it was the wrong guy.

Les Miles-Man this is one I was sure was going to get us to bowls and retire with dignity(doubts still lingered in my mind, as his offense was stale). Then............the presser happened. Wow. Still recruited well for being so bad. Maybe we could turn that corner....surely he doesn't have skeletons in his closet.......and well.

Lance Leipold-Totally different from what he had experienced through all these hires or even most of the possible candidates we have had. A true football coach, it seems surreal.

Knock on wood. Maybe I will end up with a $1!

Edward Daub 1 year, 5 months ago

Waylon Jennings "Luckenbach Texas"! LOL!

Joe Black 1 year, 5 months ago

Hope he does better than the last Buffalo coach we hired, then again it would be hard to do worse.

David Robinett 1 year, 5 months ago

I like it. If you want six national championships in anything you know what you’re doing. I hope it will translate at this level. And I hope he keeps Emmet on staff.

Andy Godwin 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope the transfer portal “outbound” remains quiet with this announcement. Likely much shakeup in coaching staff to come - likely not this year but next.

Sam Meyer 1 year, 5 months ago

WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! We upgraded at HC this offseason. Didn’t think it was possible.

Doug Roberts 1 year, 5 months ago

Since Mangino, we went with a feel-good hire (Gill) to a failed celebrity hire (Weis), a position coach with hopeful upside (Beaty), back to a failed celebrity hire (Miles), and FINALLY to a head coach who has proven the ability to build multiple successful programs.

I think we finally got the right one. Fingers crossed.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope the six year contract is enough to turn the team around and into a competitive Big 12 program. I would have bet money Monken would have been the choice but I'm very excited with this hire. Well done Mr. Goff.

Charlie Gaughn 1 year, 5 months ago

This has to be viewed as a continuation of the rebuild, not starting over. There is enough young talent to build a competitive one deep roster immediately. With two more solid recruiting classes (freshmen), proper player development, and a big 12 caliber strength and conditioning program, we should expect winning football by his third season.

Ted Hume 1 year, 5 months ago

I think we can all agree that this is a solid A hire, and the best-case result. Congrats. Now, please find a place for Jones on the coaching staff and let's get on with reset version 5.0 for Jayhawk football.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm gettting cynical. I was rooting to just run with Jones for a year. But Leipold was my first choice from the list of choices being mentioned. I liked Monken as well but just guessing it would have cost more than KU wanted. Leipold is a really good coach and a really good hire and a winner. If we start winning in his first year.....Yeah well, let's see how long we keep him. Probably OAD!

Bville Hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

“We are going to build this program through developing players, discipline and determination."

How long til the pc crowd at KU becomes upset with something he says or does. Too much discipline will infuriate them...

Waylon Cook 1 year, 5 months ago

Can he hashtag? Truly my main concern!

Edward Daub 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow! A 6 Year Contract! But, No Financial $'s Released?

Let's Go Buffalo! I mean Bills, not Bulls.

Pass the Cheese, Bratwurst (Yoder's), and Bock Beer (Huber)!

Lance will Stay and be a Success, until a BIG10 Job comes open.

Joey Meyer 1 year, 5 months ago

When that happens can we then hire Jeff Monken?

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 5 months ago

Kansas has become a stepping stone program . Liepold was hired to turn the program around If he is able to do so and the program is respectable .dont think for a moment other programs wont notice and we will be looking for a new coach .......Liepold records is pretty impressive and hes a proven winner .........Kansas is a program used to losing Liepold is a coach used to winning .................I'll put my money on Liepold ......

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Seems like a home run to me. I’ve been a huge proponent of Monken but I actually started to lean towards Leipold over the last two days simply because he has twice done the job that we need done here.

I’m very excited for KU football! Good job by Goff.

Adam Bengtson 1 year, 5 months ago

Re-run. Same re-run of comments too by fans.

Money has to pour into the stadium to get recruits. Memorial has to be closed and look like a big time football stadium. Not a high school walk across the end zone feel.

I have never seen a rating, but Kansas has to be in bottom 25 of stadiums and atmosphere.

Ill reserve judgement on any coach as I learned with the past 18 coaches in 10 years.

Robert Brock 1 year, 5 months ago

One thing that Les Miles did will help KU and Coach Leipold a lot: he phased out nearly all the juco players that added nothing to the roster. They were fillers and not good Big 12-level football players. Unless a bunch of players jump into the out-bound transfer portal, Coach Leipold will have a decent roster to make his start. Good luck, Coach!

Dale Rogers 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe we could call him "Chuckles" since his initials are "LOL."

Like someone else said, above, i was hoping Jones would get the opportunity. Leipold was my next choice, so I'm pleased with the hire since we didn't stay with Jones.

I hope KU puts Jones in position to learn from Leipold about being a head coach. I don't want to lose Jones. Maybe Assistant Head Coach or Associate Head Coach. I also hope we keep all the key assistants through next season so we're not changing things up between now and the start of the season.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 5 months ago

Adam, I agree. Although I love the stadium being on campus, access is a real problem. Parking non existent. And we wonder why its hard to fill the stadium? It seems only logical to upgrade in order to look the part of a Big 12 player. Will win more recruits and bolster attendance. If we keep it on campus there needs to be a complete rebuild and transportation, parking enhancements. We could use Arrowhead most likely until its complete.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

No place to park at NU in Lincoln, NE. In Lawrence utilizing shuttle buses from the stadium to the ample parking on West Campus and the large lot across from Allen is a workable solution to parking issues.

Robert Robinson 1 year, 5 months ago

Sounds like a good hire. I just hope 3 years from now, when we're still losing a ton of games, which we will be, he doesn't get canned. Every hire is the same story. "It will take a few years but he'll turn it around!" Then 2 years later it's, "fire this scrub, he'll never have a winning season". We've been horrible for over 20 years while constantly changing coaches. Give the guy a MINIMUM 6 years before you start complaining. Hell, give him a 10 year contract. At some point, we've got to stop blaming/firing coaches and start evaluating other areas.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

"We have met the enemy and he is us", Pogo (among others)

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope Leipold is our guy. I don't put a lot of stock in his Whitewater Division III success. Huge difference between Division III non-scholarship athletes and coaching Power 5 elite athletes.

Mike Barnhart 1 year, 5 months ago

6 D3 national championships proves he can coach! We are starting to get decent talent. Put that together (a good coach and good players) and some wins will follow.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 5 months ago

The bar is extremely low. Just stay out of "any" trouble, win more than a game a season, and have an exit strategy (trust us on this). If you can get self's autograph on a basketball you can take something positive with you from your stay at KU. Welcome to our nightmare.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

A thought/question that just occurred to me today is, didn’t he have an nfl QB for the past few years? Maybe confusing bulls and bills. Does sound like Jim Zebrowksi might have been part of the success. Are we missing any assistants? Wonder if he’ll bring any staff with him, even if in a non-coaching position.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Hopefully he'll bring all the staff with him that he wants to keep around.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

The first job of a good coach is to build a good staff, right? Most successful coaches have good to very assistants.

And KU has the perfect stadium and maybe the best location on campus. The renovations will be a challenge, bit it should never move. When we are good, it is filled. When we are not, it is not.

And in regards to coaching D3 vs P5 athletes, he just coached a team that was ranked and would have absolutely destroyed us in a game.

We have hired a real coach. A proven winner. A proven rebuilder. The first actual solid hire since Mangino.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 5 months ago

Humph, another new coach for KU football. Why should this be any different from the last four asswipes the Kansas Lolcows have hired? Did the university learn nothing about hiring coaches from Buffalo?

Let me know when this joker wins four games or more, and maybe I'll start caring about Kansas football again. Until then, I'm sticking with my Hawkeyes, a stable program with a proven winner for a head coach.


J.L. Forge 1 year, 5 months ago

I am sure everyone will be in a rush to let you know....better yet, just stick with Iowa and totally forget about KU and this message board. I am sure the Hawkeye faithful are thrilled to have you on their team! RCJH!

Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

Brett - I certainly hope you meant perfect stadium location. The second clause talks about location, but we have far from the perfect stadium.

I’ve been a proponent of doing a 3 phase rebuild: first the East stands, then the north end zone, and lastly the west side. Each could be done in a spring/summer without impacting the season.

Bryan Mohr 1 year, 5 months ago

KU football will return to being competitive and eventually winning under Leipold. Great hire by Goff. Finally a good coach and an AD who understands football.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 5 months ago

Dejavu again...and again...and again....

Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

As a D1 coach, he’s 4 games over .500. Questions, assuming no miracles, when does he go below .500 and when back above?

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