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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Tait

Matt Tait: It’s time for Kansas football to lock up Lance Leipold

Kansas football coach Lance Leipold makes a point to an official during KU's home game against Duke on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas football coach Lance Leipold makes a point to an official during KU's home game against Duke on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Thanks to Saturday’s 35-27 win over unbeaten Duke that moved the Kansas football team to 4-0 on the season, KU Athletic Director Travis Goff now should have just one thing on his to-do list.

Find the nearest paper shredder, toss Lance Leipold’s contract into it and get to work on drafting another one.

Put another way: Pay the man and make it sing. More money and more years makes a whole lot of sense.

What Leipold has done in his first 16 games in charge of the long-suffering program goes way beyond leading the team to its first four-win season since 2009.

Yes. That really happened, by the way. And he needed just four games to do it. Mind-blowing.

But this stretch of unexpected success is much bigger than the impressive wins and the suddenly-sunny postseason potential.

It’s bigger than the sellout crowd full of fans buying T-Shirts with Leipold’s name on them and those fans staying to the end of games and getting louder at the most important moments.

It’s bigger than Kansas becoming one of the most-talked about stories of the college football season thus far.

And it’s bigger than quarterback Jalon Daniels looking like, playing like and legitimately being a Big 12 Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy candidate.

Downright unbelievable is what it is, and there’s no reason for anyone inside the KU athletic department to wait any longer to see, nor need any further proof of, Leipold’s coaching chops or ability to turn around this program.

Talk to donors, grab Leipold, dial up his agent, Bryan Harlan, and turn what’s already a pretty nice contract into one that is guaranteed to keep Leipold in Lawrence for years to come.

Don’t worry about the what-ifs or the regression or the down days that are sure to come. He knows how to manage those.

And Kansas now knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is the man they want doing that.

Truth be told, Goff knew that the moment he hired Leipold.

After a thorough coaching search during which Kansas explored all possibilities, Goff and company zeroed in on Leipold early for all of the reasons we’re seeing today.

Yeah, he had a history of being able to turnaround and build programs. And his track record illustrated that he can coach.

But it’s the part about never being satisfied while still finding a way to be genuinely happy and proud of the effort, the results and the progress that made — no, makes — Leipold the perfect fit for this program at the absolutely perfect time.

Kansas, the university, entered the football season with a lot at stake. And in the most resounding way possible, Leipold, his coaching staff and the Jayhawks themselves have shown that KU can have a football program that people respect.

Talk to the players about why that is and they’ll point to the hard work they put in all offseason and how the reputation of Kansas football as a national laughingstock fueled them.

That’s not all that different from how players from the past felt, but the leadership and guidance they’re getting on how to manage that is different than before.

It’s simple, really. Work hard, do your job, execute what you’re asked to execute and then do it all over again the next play or the next series or the next week.

That approach is fine for the coaches and players inside the program. But those of us on the outside can and should say more.

This improbable run is bordering on historic. It’s not that KU hasn’t started 4-0 before. It’s just that it hasn’t happened all that often.

In the 133-year history of Kansas football, KU now has started 4-0 or better 25 times. But 17 of those came before 1931 and just three of them, including this year, have taken place this century.

What that kind of start means for Kansas is obvious. The roster is loaded with confidence, two wins away from bowl eligibility and having fun again. I mean, this team's going to be ranked on Sunday.

What it means for everything around the program is even bigger, though. Bigger financially, bigger emotionally, bigger nationally. Just bigger.

Although he’s only been a Jayhawk for a year-and-a-half, Leipold already seems to get that loud and clear. He talked Saturday of last year, when he thought to himself during KU’s 2-10 season, “We’ll get this thing filled someday.”

Someday arrived on Saturday, and Leipold got to soak that up ever so briefly.

“Is there a moment before the ball’s kicked off or even during warm-ups (when) you see such a huge difference?” he said after the win over Duke. “Yeah. It’s good for our university and community and all those different things. You say it a lot, but then you’ve got to recognize it when it happens.”

Same goes for finding a coach like Leipold, who can restore respectability to your down-in-the-dumps program and lead you to new heights.

The powers that be at KU can say how great he’s been and is and what a terrific fit he is for the program or they can recognize it when it happens.

Locking him up for the long haul with a new contract takes care of both.

Comments

Dale Rogers 2 months, 1 week ago

Absolutely, lock him up with one of those rolling contracts like Bill Self has. And lock up those assistant coaches, too. And, by all means, that includes Matt Gildersleeve as well as all the other assistants.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

If, and that's a big IF he stays, it will be because of his players and what they have achieved sooner than expected. He is a talented coach, greener and better fields are in his future.

He has said it was the challenge, not for the stadium, nor the program, nor the fans, nor a ton of money on why he came here.

His career path points that he will move on to the a B10 or SEC school. NE would be a perfect fit.

I for one wish him well on wherever he wants to be.

Len Shaffer 2 months, 1 week ago

Remind me, who was the idiot who said that the reason the game was sold out was because of all the Duke fans buying tickets?

Yeah, I could hear that huge contingent of Duke fans when they made a big play.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Len you, like Dirk, do not understand the word "or" in a sentence. Reread my post. I saw empty sections of stands and not just at the end of the game.

It was nice to see a full crowd, its been awhile, but there were a lot of fair weather fans there too.

I know the big words give you trouble, but when the little words do, well I can only hope and pray that you get the reading help it appears you so desperately need.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 2 months, 1 week ago

An additional point is that during this time of conference realignment KU has always been talked about as being on the outside looking in. Basketball program is great, but college sports' lifeline is based on TV contracts and having no valid Power 5 football program KU was at risk of falling to a second tier conference. Hopefully restoring KU football to competitiveness will keep KU relevant during conference realignment discussions.

Pamela Shanks 2 months, 1 week ago

Someone has to step up as a football power in the BIG 12 with OU and TX leaving. Now, we can hope that is KU! It is so much fun to type THAT! Rock Chalk!

Bryce Landon 2 months, 1 week ago

The football gods have defecated on Jayhawk football long enough the past thirteen years. It's time KU gets a good break and keeps Lance Leipold and doesn't let Nebraska lure him away.

John Myers 2 months, 1 week ago

Give him Self’s money. Posted recently - at this point in time, I’d rather lose Self than Leipold. We need to lock up Kotelnicki too. Hell, the whole staff. Give them anything they want.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Let's mark this post as a little over the top.

Brad Watson 2 months, 1 week ago

THE BEST FOOTBALL COACH IN AMERICA.... PERIOD!!!! even if he did accept the holding penalty...LOL!!!... If he likes it here ...he will stay...if he wants to go to Nebraska...he will...I want Coach to be happy..I want what's best for him...not us......let him focus on coaching..talk after the regular season.

Brad Watson 2 months, 1 week ago

The Touchdown Club need to be relocated....we need those seats....not to mention it is a very bad visual seeing those unused seats...Headscratcher deluxoid!!!! and get rid of that RAP CRAP music...marching band only!

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

For once I agree with you Brad. It looks like a Junior College programs weak effort.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Bryce - You’re not a god, football or otherwise.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Dirk, try to be a little more compassionate.

We are so alike.

Brianna Zaleski 2 months, 1 week ago

Matt, Great article. Thoughtful and to the point. We can only hope that the KU brass, and/or LL reads this and takes heed.

Alex Berger 2 months, 1 week ago

It's exciting to think of all the ways KU football will benefit if the wins keeping coming, Leipold stays, and maybe even end the year will a bowl win. The media will continue to jump all over this story and amplify what's possible.

Recruiting, football facilities, gameday environment, stadium enhancements could all be jolt started like this football program hasn't seen since 2008. If Leipold stays, the possibilities seem endless, so make it happen administration and make him an offer he can't refuse!

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Looking forward to seeing if we can replicate our success versus the 3 currently ranked schools we play after ISU.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

Don't really agree with the strategy of locking him up right now - the equivalent of buying high. Remember Tony Hull?

The price to keep Leipold isn't going up, unless this magical run gets crazy, almost fictionally good. There are really just three levels of pay: good (where Leipold is), insanely good (Sabanesque) and somewhere in-between. To get the crazy money, Leipold would have to be insanely great this year. If in-between money is the right level, then waiting a few games won't make a difference.

Onto homecoming.....ISU will be a real test - they gave the conference favorites a tough run in Waco. As far as the empty seats in the bowl go, they should do what they used to do at the Coliseum for the Raiders - cover them up. Seriously, Get some huge Jayhawk tarps and cover those unsold seats - they look terrible on television.

Brad Watson 2 months, 1 week ago

Looking at the overall college schedule...Gameday will be coming to I-State game...IMO and the AD said so in a tweet last Sunday. Set it up in front of Watson Library or Strong Hall would be great...they might set up in front of Allen Field House...but it is happening!

Brad Watson 2 months, 1 week ago

With Wisconsin losing....Wisconsin might approach Coach...he would have a very hard time saying no to them...and good for him...I hope he gets whatever his dream job is one day... just as I hope all of you get the things you want out of life including dream jobs......maybe we are it...only he knows...but just let Coach...coach...and everything will fall into place naturally.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Wisconsin almost always loses to OSU. That will not get Chryst fired.

Lee Sears 2 months, 1 week ago

There is no reason why being the KU football coach can't be Liepold's dream job. Liepold's salary his last year before coming to KU was $474,300. First year at KU was 2.2 million. I would like to think Lance Liepold would want to see KU continue to develop into a regular top 25 team. It is also possible that the Liepold family like Lawrence and appreciate the fan base. There is no reason KU can't continue to pay a competitive salary that would equal other offers.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

First year at a B10 school, could be $5m. He has no ties to KU, why would KU mean more than Buffalo? Or UWW?

KU is a can he win at a Power 5 conference question. He can so far, next stop B10 or SEC maybe.

Andy Godwin 2 months, 1 week ago

I am not quite ready to throw Leipold a parade after a record of 6-10, but the team is clearly moving in the right direction and excitement is growing in Memorial Stadium. I know expectations have been low for the past 12 years and Leipold has been a significant upgrade and a steady hand as compared to Gill, Weis, Beaty, and the no personality Miles, but restructuring his contract after week 4 is a bit premature and promotes a sense of insecurity. An equally big concern is potentially losing “coach K” (Andy Kotelnicki) to a bigger name program or even the NFL after the season if his offense continues to impress. Leipold, like Bill Synder has a chance to transform one of the worse Power 5 football programs into something fans can be proud of. The question is whether Leipold is looking for more than KU can offer. Rock Chalk.

Brad Watson 2 months, 1 week ago

Gameday is going to the NCState -Clemson game...it is a bigger game for sure over in football country as they like to refer to themselves...OU_TX is the following week ...it might not happen this year...unless we win all of our games...then maybe Okla St....or Texas

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

One day Brad, one day it just might happen.

Brian Skelly 2 months, 1 week ago

I'd like to wait until we're bowl eligible to start the whole "lock him up now" conversation.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Rodney - First ranked team after ISU and TCU? Unless of course ou continues to lose after their cupcake non-con.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Sorry Dirk, you seem confused.

I would like to wait till he beats someone ranked, before we back up the Brinks Truck is all, I am sorry I used big words again.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Rodney - Thanks for the shout out even when I have no part of the conversation.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

Nice try Dirk, as we all know on here, like me, are all over the comment sections. Whether anyone asks for it or not. Like you said its one big discussion.

I cannot help you to learn about sports unless we keep working on how it works.

I will always try to help you. I do wish we quote poetry to each other. It's ok.

Micky Baker 2 months, 1 week ago

I'm kind of mixed on this. I don't know about restructuring the contract right now. That could backfire, but he is a great fit at Kansas and doing a great job. The students and the rest of the fan base would lose as well if he leaves.

We don't know all of the details of the contract. At least I don't. But I would certainly want him to stay. It appears that he is enjoying what he is doing and you showed some emotion at the end of the game yesterday. I remember when we were guessing how many games we're going to win this year, and some said 3, 4, or maybe a few more. Now some games that didn't look winnable before the season don't just look winnable but might be games we expect to win now.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Now is the time to let Coach coach.

Love what he’s doing, want to keep him around, and don’t think he’s as take, take, take as some others think. I have no idea what is involved with an ADs job, so maybe he is talking with Lance’s agent. Guessing he sees Lance occasionally and is supportive, but Lance does not need or want to be distracted by contract talks.

Kinda like the Husker question before Houston, a reporter has a job to do, and keeping this staff is important. There’s just a lot of things that are more important than the contract. The stadium being filled and fully enthusiastic for the second home game after being half empty last year is important. Ongoing development of the stadium rebuild is important. Supporting the coaches in continuing to develop the team is important.

There are at least eight important games remaining and one next week against ISU. Hopefully another strong showing by the fans (important) though this one will undoubtedly have more clones.

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 1 week ago

And don't forget our young AD. A nice little bonus is in order somewhere along the way.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

For what? Would we fire him if we were losing????

Joey Meyer 2 months, 1 week ago

I feel like half the comments on here are delusional. Sorry, but so far off here.

Buying high? This isn’t just us and Coach Leipold, this is us against every other school that wants him. And there are other schools.

So what, he hasn’t proven something to us yet? His record isn’t good enough? What?

It’s good enough to be getting serious interest from “more lucrative” jobs, therefore his value has gone way up.

Wait till the end of the season? What? Why? To wait until he gets a $5M offer from someone else??

He’s actually worth a lot to KU. Look at the delta in revenue between bad KU football and good KU football…. There’s a major financial difference between bad and good football.

Pay up for Lance, we want to keep him!!

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

If it only worked that way Joey. If only.

Either your company (program) pays you or the competition will set the price on what you are worth. That price might be beyond our means. Self makes what he makes cause he has won at the highest level at multiple programs. He is also a HOF coach.

You want, wish, hope he will stay because he has progressed from last years 2 wins. This is great right! I agree! We are thirsty for this kind of success. We will have to wait.

A coach is way too busy mid-season to restructure his contract.

I will give you a little hope. The best thing we can hope for is that Goff has a handshake agreement with Coach L. That if he gets offered a job we could at least have a chance to match it.

A little more hope, that Goff was clever enough to put some escalators in his contract. Extra bonus payments if he hits 5 wins, 7 wins, a bowl game, road vs. home wins, things like that.

I don't think Coach L. will make a move till the season is over. But if he keeps winning, and I believe he will, there will be offers.

It is not delusional that this could happen, It does every year. We just happen to be Buffalo right now (will he stay?), and that is uncomfortable.

Joey Meyer 2 months, 1 week ago

Right - my point is that it would be bonkers to sit on our hands and say 'well he hasn't proven it enough yet' or 'let's wait till his stock lowers a bit' while other schools are foaming at the mouth.

The one advantage we might have here is that he's already the head coach at KU - like it's our exclusive negotiating window - so take advantage of that and set him up with a fantastic deal that at least factors into a decision to stay.

Sure - his value may be beyond what we could pay (I still somewhat doubt that given our donors and fanbase being as passionate as they are) - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give him and his family and his assistants our absolute best shot at making this his chosen spot to be.

Brian Skelly 2 months, 1 week ago

I'd point as well that he's 58.   He's not 28, or even in his early to mid 30s.

Im sure the Huskers could throw twice the salary at him.    I don't think he's as high up that list as folks would think though.   But who knows.

My personal feeling is if we increase his salary so he's not last in the Big 12, he'd end up staying.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

That is a good point. It can cut both ways though. He might feel if he does not jump now to a better program, better situation, then when will he get another chance at his age?

Regardless in a weird way it is nice to be in this position. We have a football coach that is being talked about like this.

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