Charlie Weis was fired at 2-2 and Clint Bowen took over, juggling the duties of a head coach and defensive coordinator for the remaining eight games of the 2014 season.
The team played hard for him, had a late lead against TCU and defeated Iowa State. A groundswell of support for Bowen to be given the job on a permanent basis percolated in Lawrence, but then athletic director Sheahon Zenger didn’t want to go in that direction.
Kansas was blown out in the final two weeks of the season and Zenger included Bowen as one of the candidates he interviewed. But the selection committee did only phone interviews with every candidate except David Beaty.
Bowen’s first three defenses under Beaty were ranked among the nation’s worst statistically, begging the question of whether Bowen’s fiery personality might lend itself better to serving as a head coach than to coordinating.
His experience coaching eight games in 2014 would make the transition to interim head coach smoother than anyone else on the staff, but it also would make a harsh reality painfully obvious to everyone who hasn’t already figured it out: The program has gone backward, not forward, not stuck in neutral, under Beaty.
Since Bowen won one game and nearly won another in 2014, he would have to do the same to convince anyone that the program is in neutral, not reverse.