Nutty opinions abound that Kansas football job does not attract quality applicants


Charlie Weis, 55, waves to media members at the Lawrence Airport on Thursday night around 8:30 p.m. after arriving in town with Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, at right. Weis has agreed to become the 37th head football coach in KU history.

Charlie Weis, 55, waves to media members at the Lawrence Airport on Thursday night around 8:30 p.m. after arriving in town with Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, at right. Weis has agreed to become the 37th head football coach in KU history. by Mike Yoder

Far too often, athletic directors seeking head football coaches put “hot name” on the list of qualifications.

They do so because they place winning the press conference above building a winning football program on their list of priorities.

So if the hot name of the moment is the coordinator from a national powerhouse program, they like that. If Art Briles before his fall from grace happens to be the coach drawing the most praise at the moment and he used to be a high school football coach in Texas, then having high school football coach in Texas on your resume heats up your name.

Typically, “hot name” takes precedence over the three-word combination that should trump all else: good football coach.

Every time I write about good football coaches who wanted the Kansas job when the last three vacancies surfaced, I remember another, or someone reminds me of another.

Consider the blind resume of, we’ll call him John Doe before revealing his name later in the blog.

In his first assignment as a head coach, at the FCS level, his team’s went 4-7, 5-6, 11-1, 11-2. He stayed for one year at his next job, an FBS school, and then earned a promotion to an SEC program.

Coach Doe inherited an SEC program that made it to two bowl games in the previous eight seasons. He took that same school to bowl games in each of his first six seasons. His team played in three New Years’ Day bowls in a five-year period.

He coached two different schools to victories over LSU in Baton Rouge, once when LSU was ranked No. 1, the next time when the Tigers were No. 8. He moved to another SEC program, had two good seasons, two bad ones and was fired.

Houston Nutt, who played quarterback for Lou Holtz at Arkansas and was head coach for Murray State, Boise State, Arkansas and Ole Miss, wanted the Kansas job when it went to Charlie Weis and again when it went to David Beaty.

He’s working as a broadcaster now and turned 60 last month and last coached in 2011.

Nutt most recently made national news when he gained a settlement in his favor in court. He wasn’t suing Ole Miss for money. He was suing for an apology to restore his good reputation. Nutt alleged a smear campaign designed to pin the Rebels’ NCAA violations on him instead of successor Hugh Freeze.

Nutt won, receiving the following apology last month: “Certain statements made by university employees in January, 2016, appear to have contributed to misleading reports about Coach Nutt. To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt’s reputation, the university apologizes, as this was not the intent.”

Good football coach.

Why do I continue to write about coaches who wanted the KU job in the past? Because I don’t believe the contention of many that the Kansas job is not an appealing one. Don’t buy that for a second. It's a very difficult one, but many good football coaches, Nutt included, would embrace the challenge.


Drew Matthews 5 years ago

Exactly! It is the hiring we are getting wrong, not the firing.

John Fitzgerald 5 years ago

I agree 100% Tom and it baffles me that others don't think so. Here are the guys I'd look at first that have showed interest in the past or I think could show interest:

Dave Doeren, Troy Calhoun, Chad Morris, Bill Clark, Jason Candle, Neal Brown, Craig Bohl

I've heard these names too:

Willie Fritz, Houston Nutt, Jeff Monken

The key to all of these guys is they all have D-1 FBS HC experience and they've all had success. Something our last two..I"m sorry last THREE hires have not had in common.

Steve Hillyer 5 years ago

You forgot Jim Harbuagh and Tommy Tubberville. I also thought I heard Gus Malzahn was interested in the job when it went to Weiss. When Gill was hired and again with Weiss they were the least qualified for the job in my opinion compared to the others that were interested and/or interviewed. We can also go back to the Terry Allen hire, we hired him instead of Dennis Franchione who wanted the job, what P5 program hires a guy whose only coaching experience is on the division 2 level, only KU.

John Fitzgerald 5 years ago

Yea I'm thinking more along the lines of guys that would still consider the job. I don't think Harbaugh, Malzahn, or Tubberville would be interested any longer. But good point that we've had some big names interested at least.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

I can just about guarantee you Dave Doeren would not be interested in KU at this point as well.

I think I would also pass on Nutt at this point as well. 60 years old and will have been out of coaching for 7 years at the start of next year as well.

John Fitzgerald 5 years ago

I disagree 100%. Dave's from KS and was pretty aggressive about wanting the job when he was a candidate a few years back. If we had the right AD and right offer, I think he'd be interested or at least listen.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

3 and 5 years ago. Now he has NC State in the top 20. He's not leaving NC State for Kansas at this point regardless of AD.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Considering Franchione's habit of leaving programs with NCAA violations, probably not a bad thing KU didn't hire him

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

Yeah, we're in much better shape now.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Since the reference to Franchione was 20 years ago when Terry Allen was hired, KU could actually be in worse shape because Franchione would likely mean KU never hired Mangino and they go through the usual deal of firing coaches every 3 years, but you have some kind of major NCAA discipline thrown in somewhere in the early to mid 2000's which means KU is where they're at now for the past 15 years instead of the past 8.

Michael Maris 5 years ago

Bill Clark resume (albeit short) is very impressive (considering that he's only been a Collegiate HC for 3 total seasons). What's impressive is, UAB terminated their football program after the 2014 season. Three years later, the football program is re-instated. In the 2017 season, UAB is currently 7-4 (overall and 5-2 in the C-USA Western Division) with one more regular season left to play. Currently, his 3 year HC record is 24-14 (between 1 year at Jacksonville State (11-4) and 2 full season's at UAB in 2014 (6-6) and 2017). Evidently, Bill Clark knows how to run a Collegiate Football program.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Turner Gill was far from the worst option KU could've made. His W-L record wasn't impressive on the surface, but Buffalo was where Kansas is now when he took over Buffalo. Buffalo was legitimately the worst D1 program at the time and Gill won a conference title there in his 4th year. Gill had also been a finalist for Auburn and Nebraska so KU was clearly not the only school who was high on him at the time.

Gill may not have been the best option if the Harbaugh rumor is true, but KU also could've done a lot worse on paper than Gill.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

He wasn't the worst option......damning by feint praise. No, he wasn't the worst option. Ironically, Lew made a better hire than Zenger has on either of his. And when you count Turner Gill as the best of your last three head coaches, then you have all the information necessary to evaluate the current status of your program.

Gill was a reach. Lew had a man-crush on Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. The anti-mangino. Woodling even wrote a post on it as a pendulum hire.

Zenger did the same on Weis and Beaty. What executive on earth hires a fired, worn-out old pro and then follows it with an unproven, unpromoted position coach? Running an entirely different offense?

It's stupidity, or insanity or pride on an amazing display or arrogance. Or all of the above.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Obviously we know what Gill ended up as here, but at the time, Gill was one of the hottest up and comers in coaching as evidenced by the other schools that expressed serious interest in Gill at the time.

Whitney Tangeman 5 years ago

Do we know who the consulting firm/group was that Zenger used in the search that landed Beaty? I’d be curious whether their final report to Zenger emphasized recruiting over rebuilding experience like Nutt’s, or whether Zenger went off-script to assign it more value due to roster numbers. Beaty may be a nice man and may have coaching success in his future elsewhere, but he’s not equipped to coach a program in KU’s rock bottom position. One more year won’t change that.

Chris DeWeese 5 years ago

I've wondered that myself. KU went to the trouble of hiring a consulting firm to find the best candidate for the job. I've worked for organizations who hired consulting firms and then never took one suggestion they paid good money for. I wonder if Zenger did the same.

Jeff Coffman 5 years ago

Please Keegan an article on the search firm would be great, if there is a freedom of information act on that one, I think it would make for an interesting article (or 2).

Steve Hilker 5 years ago

Phillip Fulmer wanted the job when Gill was hired.

Jack Hoff 5 years ago

It’s a darn shame what KU fans have had to put up with over the last decade. Zenger is ultimately the guy in charge and the lack of competition should squarely fall on him. I still think his efforts elsewhere in the department have enabled him to keep his job and I still believe Beaty should at least get a chance to see what his seniors can do next year.

Jack Hoff 5 years ago

I personally think teams need seniors to win. Ku would have a more upperclassman heavy team next year. I think about Gill and how he’s doing fairly well right now. We’d probably have been in a much better spot now had we just let him coach through his senior class. That’s when you can assess the talent a coach brings in. Maybe I’m wrong but it’s just my opinion. If we suck with seniors next year then yeah I’d be mad like the rest of y’all. I’m just not there yet

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

Well, Baylor won with largely a freshman and sophomore team.

Beaty hasn't earned any consideration. He needs to go. He should have been fired last year, the second the words "walk-around guy" were uttered.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

No they didn't, Baylor didn't have a winning record until Briles 3rd year when his players were becoming upperclassmen.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

I'm talking about this year's game, in our stadium, a few weeks ago. Maybe you slept through it.

Jack Hoff 5 years ago

That’s a fair point Brett. The eye test says Baylor is flat out better than KU based on competitiveness in other games. But they still only have one win like we do. I think the reward for one more year is greater than the risk.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

What risk? Any new hire can put together the worst recruiting class in the conference. Any new hire can lose 11 games in a season. What's your upside with Beaty? 3 wins. And that's a win?

This thing is over. My goodness. Why are you all fighting it?

Jeff Coffman 5 years ago

Fair only concern is that we would see improvement with Juniors by your logic, maybe not wins, we have not seen that. Also, I think David Beaty used a lot more JUCOs then most people realize, so a four year plan actually wouldn't get many seniors.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

On back-to-back hires, Zenger forgot the fundamentals and went with style over substance.

I think that you could easily name 15-20 proven coaches that would have taken the KU job at the time of either the Weis or Beaty hires. All of those coaches would have done the hard, grinding work that creates progress.

Zenger's whiffs came from either bad instincts or a lack of discipline. Forgetting about Weis and focusing on the current, second attempt at hiring a leader for the program, Zenger gave into temptation by going with a second guy who talked a big game, but just couldn't walk it. Both Weis and Beaty talk it up. Unfortunately, neither one of them can coach it up.

AD's are hired to get these things right. They aren't hired to get it so bad the first time, that they have to make excuses for three years the second time.

It's amazing to me that we are even still talking about anything other than a candidate search. Only KU Football could waste its time and the goodwill of its fan base supporting such brain-dead decisions.

Jeff Coffman 5 years ago

Thanks Keegan, I needed a football article to keep my addiction of this saga going.

Kevin Robert Fest 5 years ago

Every time I read these articles about who was interested in the job or who was considered for the job and who was actually hired I get more and more depressed. Because it's obvious that there were bigger name coaches more qualified coaches more experienced coaches more coaches with winning track records than the ones that were hired by the KU Administration.

It seems they might have gone with Weis because of his success at Notre Dame for a while then after the huge buyout with him they went with Beatty because he was cheap, talked a Big Game and said he can recruit Texas.

Seems that the administration might have been scared off after Weis to hire a big-name coach with a proven track record somewhere else then had to leave because the team wasnt as successful. Another big-name with another big contract and I believe KU felt they couldn't afford to pay that if the coach wasn't successful over a certain period of time as Weis was or wasnt.

Harold Wayne 5 years ago

Keegan still trying to stir things up. This is getting pathetic.

John Fitzgerald 5 years ago

Would you like a box of Kleenex, Boo-Hoo Radley?

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

Was Nutt interested in the position for $800k? Or even the $1.6 that we're now paying? I definitely don't know all that went into the decisions that were made but it does seem pretentious to postulate as if I did.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

So, KU football is worth only what we can hire for $800K? While we spend $26 million on an unneeded indoor practice facility?

My goodness, you guys are the most creative excuse-makers I've ever one would take the would would take the pay....

Zenger could not have done a worse job hiring our last two coaches, even if he tried. The old game is this: would anyone else hire your coach? Here's a variation, would Zenger's alma mater hire him?...Would any other FBS program in America? Do you trust Zenger to hire Self's replacement, when the time comes? The answer is no in all accounts, otherwise you are just being disingenuous.

I seriously don't understand the torment in this. Zenger has done a horrible, horrible job managing the KU football program. As a bonus, the women's bball program is also in rough shape.

Fire him. Pay him his millions and let him get on with his life doing something that he's good at. Because it ain't this.

David Meredith 5 years ago

So for argument's sake, if Beaty is fired at season's end... who are possible replacements?

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

Well, the article suggest Houston Nutt. Others would be.......about 50 other coaches in America.

David Meredith 5 years ago

Not sure a 60 year old has the energy to turn this thing around... but every 60 year old is different.

David Meredith 5 years ago

I think the KU job attractiveness is in the fact that if a Coach can turn this mess around, he could pick his next job with that reputation.

John Brazelton 5 years ago

In my opinion, both Tom Keegan and Brett McCabe need to take their hate and bitterness of Girod, Zenger and Beaty somewhere else. In addition to criticizing those individuals who have the authority to do their jobs, you're also criticizing the 100+ football student athletes as well. KU football will get better when we have more Jimmy's and Joe's. Right now, we have decent #1's, but no real depth. Next season, we will have 20+ seniors and 15+ juniors (add a few JUCOs). It will be up to the athletes to decide if they want to have a winning season or not. Coaches can coach, but it takes players to produce on the field. In addition, we will have 85 recruited scholarship players (minus a few walk-ons who got scholarships). Finally, due to injuries, we will have a bunch of experienced #2's and in some cases #3's, who received on-the-field reps this year. The decision to have Beaty as the HC next season has already been made. Wishful thinking about who might have been the KU HC is a wasted exercise at this point.

Brett McCabe 5 years ago

Actually, John, I've very careful to not criticize the kids. At least they are Jayhawks. Rarely do I make any specific comments about the players. The millionaires? They deserve the scrutiny. They need to do their jobs. They need to control their team. They are flailing.

Gary Wirsig 5 years ago

On a lighter note, about halfway through the comments I finally understood what I thought was Keegan's odd use of the word "Nutty" in the article's title.

Robert Brock 5 years ago

I don’t want Zenger hiring anybody. Zenger will never make a good hire.

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