4 things to know about KU football's upcoming coaching search


The echo of applause from the Kansas University football players celebrating Sunday's announcement of Clint Bowen as their new interim head coach has barely silenced and the past 36 hours have been more about getting their feet under them than moving into the future.

So, no, KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has not spent a ton of time in the past two days worrying about the coaching search for which he'll have plenty of time during the coming months.

After pulling the trigger to dismiss the man he had hired for the job just under three years ago, Zenger took time out to breathe on Monday and thoroughly seemed to enjoy the reaction to Bowen's promotion, some of which was emotional and some a surprise.

There is still work to do for both Bowen and Zenger, but both deserved the chance to smile and celebrate on Monday.

Today, Bowen and the Jayhawks will dive full-speed into game prep for West Virginia — 3 p.m. Saturday in Morgantown — and Zenger will go back to his normal routine as well.

With that in mind, here are four things you should know about the KU coaching search, whenever it begins....

1. It has not started yet nor does Zenger already have “his guy” lined up and an agreement in place. Reports to the contrary are simply premature and a reach. It's far too early for that and, many of the most legitimate candidates on his wish list are busy coaching for other programs. Last time, when he hired Charlie Weis, Zenger hit the road right after the season ended and did not return home for almost three weeks. He had to hurry then. Recruiting hung in the balance and he needed a coach and staff to lead the Jayhawks into the offseason. The urgency is not as strong this time and so Zenger will take his time. He's got a clear idea of what he wants — and maybe more importantly what he doesn't — and will gladly talk to coaches who may be interested should they want to chat. But the heavy lifting in the search has yet to begin and may not start for some time.

2.Clint Bowen is absolutely, 100 percent a real candidate for the job. He would have been even without the interim tag and Monday's incredible reception. And that's because he's put in his time with this program, he has won at Kansas as a player and a coach and he, probably more than anyone on the planet, wants to make KU a winner again in a very bad way. You just don't overlook a guy like that, especially when it's one who is qualified, has proven himself to be a solid assistant coach and coordinator and is already sitting there under your nose.

3.Mark Mangino is not on our coaching search list and, barring the miracle of all miracles, he's not coming back. I understand the appeal. I get why people would love to have the big guy back. But it's not worth holding your breath over. Mangino may have been let go unfairly, but what's done is done and, fair or not, there was an investigation into his treatment of his players, there was a settlement reached between KU and Mangino, and attempting to bring him back could come with some significant risk for KU. In a perfect world, he might be the perfect candidate. But there are too many imperfect factors that make that very hard to see.

4.There's no doubt that making the move to fire Weis four games into the season gives Zenger some time to find his next head coach, but this move was not made for Zenger to have more time. It was not made for Bowen to get a hero's welcome. It was not even made just to move on without Weis in the head coach's office. It was made for the players. 100 percent, no questions asked. Zenger truly believes that this roster has talent and that the staff in place can lead them to better days. Now they get their chance on their terms. John Reagan can call whatever offense he wants and use whatever players he sees fit. Bowen can do things the Jayhawk way and the way he's always known to work. And the rest of the coaches will get a ton of freedom and support from Bowen to coach the way they coach as long as they're willing to work hard and within the framework of the blueprint Bowen talked about Monday. It's a tough deal to completely shift gears like this at this point in the season and Bowen knows that. That's why he's going to lean on his talented staff as much as possible to help make the transition as smooth as it can be.


Kevin Kelly 8 years, 2 months ago

Ask Zenger what he's going to do when the next coach is looking 2.33 seasons into his career with a bunch of losses? What is going to stop him from coaching like his life depends on it and making bad decisions? How are you going to make any coach believe they have any support whatsoever?

Lance Cheney 8 years, 2 months ago

This BS about "coaches only getting 2 years to win at KU" is played-out and sheer hyperbole. It's not just because they're not winning games; it's the fact that there is zero progress being made on the field, and 2-plus years in we're still not competitive with mediocre teams. When you barely beat SEMO and Central Michigan, get drubbed by 38 points by Duke (which, by the way, had fewer people in the stands than a KU game), fail to score on a mediocre (maybe even worse than mediocre) Texas team, show zero energy/enthusiasm on the sideline, and players have given up on you, then yeah, you deserve to be shown the door. Had we kept those Duke and Texas games within one or two scores, and put away SEMO like we should have, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.

Kevin Kelly 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm not arguing that the call is right or wrong. I'm talking about credibility. Zenger fired one disaster and hired another. How does this not effect his creditability? Answer my questions. If you think its hyperbole then it should be super easy....what will Zenger do with the next coach to make sure that guy...and the guys he's recruiting...really have support? What is Zenger going to say to fans, recruits, players and coaches?

I have no problem with the decision. But when you bring a guy back for 4 games you look like a fool. He should have pulled the trigger last year and the fact that this is the way its done shows he's small time and doesn't know what he's doing. Remember....he believed Weiss when the WHOLE country said he was a charlatan that only lucked into Tom Brady and Belichek.

He should be no where near the next decision and needs to resign, IMO. But at the very least the above subject is valid and needs to be addressed specifically by him.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

"He should have pulled the trigger last year"

I couldn't disagree more. The timing of Weis's firing was perfect. I believe that Zenger pulled the trigger as soon as he possibly could justify. Last year, as bad as it was at times, looked like progress on the field compared to the previous year. This year through 4 games we clearly looked to be going backwards and everybody could see that things appeared to be getting worse thus no one could question Zenger's decision at this time. This is especially important to the coaching search as candidates will see that Zenger will allow a coach time to show improvement but will not tolerate a program that moves from bad to worse especially when the head coach has set up such lofty expectations time and time again only to fall flat.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 2 months ago

Well I misunderstood your post, then. I thought you were taking the ESPN analyst and every other outsider's view of the situation. That's what I was referring to, and that's what irritates me.

Eric Dawson 8 years, 2 months ago

Well, I agree with the big money supporters. From everything I have read they are solidly behind Zenger, and rightfully so. The ONLY strike against him so far has been his hire of Weis, and anyone that was paying attention knew Weis was a calculated risk from the start. Zenger's done a great job with everything else in his time at KU.

Frankly, Zenger's credibility would only be an issue if he had not fired Weis when it was clear KU was going nowhere after Weis had promised he would give us something in September of year 3 to keep us coming to the stadium for the rest of the season.

(He probably didn't think that something would be his being canned.)

Dirk Medema 8 years, 2 months ago

"fail to score" is an O on D eval, and UT's D is definitely not mediocre. Their O is, which is why we were in the game, but their D is ranked well even with playing a couple good programs.

Duke also, in spite of their lack of attendance, is a quality football (bowl) team, and anything but mediocre.

The reality is that we are only competitive with mediocre or worse teams, tho that doesn't change the fact that Weis needed to go.

Michael Maris 8 years, 2 months ago

Matt, thanks for this bit of information. I find bullet point number 4 to be the most interesting of all. Going back to the comment that was made by Dr. Zenger, about interest in the football program being gone in all phases. Well, that means that Dr. Zenger realized that the change needed to be made for the fan base (like myself), Alumni, Administration and players. But, your bullet point #4 leads to the fact that the majority (if not all) players had basically thrown in the towel on Weis and his system. And, that's the most interesting bit of information. It's kind of the reverse of 2009. Not all players threw in the towel in 2009. Just the one's that were of the mindset to get rid of Coach Mangino.

And, Mangino would never come back to Kansas as long as BGL is still sitting in the Chancellor's Office. I mean, she placed her stamp of approval on the witch hunt that pursued back in 2009. So, why would BGL then change her mind and give Dr. Zenger the approval to rehire Coach Mangino. Mangino's not going to have anything to do with being Coach Fambrough Part II.

I like to read Joe Ross's comments on here a lot. I admire his passion and desires (just as mine) to have the Jayhawks Football program playing at a top level. But, Mangino is not coming back to Kansas as a member of the Kansas Jayhawks Football Staff. He may have well done some things that warranted his firing. Believe me, I was NOT the least bit happy when he was ran out of town. But, it is what it is. I've moved on. I wish Coach Mangino all the success in the world (except for games against Kansas).

I support Coach Bowen and his 8 game tenure to pursue his dreams and desires. I can remember both Charlie and Clint when they played in Jayhawks uniforms. I support Coach Bowen and the staff.


Lance Cheney 8 years, 2 months ago

"So, why would BGL then change her mind and give Dr. Zenger the approval to rehire Coach Mangino?"

I'm not a bring-back-Mangino guy, but BGL shouldn't have any say on who Zenger hires. This is what happens when you start letting government interfere with business decisions.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 2 months ago

Lance, are you seriously going to interject politics into the discussion?

Then I could say that Enron, the economic collapse, the BP oil spill, etc., etc., etc., is what happens when you DON'T start letting government interfere with business decisions.

Michael Maris 8 years, 2 months ago

In response to Lance's response, who does Dr. Zenger actually answer to in the chain of command? Who signed off on the hiring of Dr. Zenger to be the next AD for the Jayhawks Athletic Department?

Mark Mangino's not going to come back to Lawrence, other than on the opposing team's sideline and when there is a Anniversary Celebration that takes place to celebrate the 2007 Season and 2008 Orange Bowl Victory.

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

In response to Brett McCabe. You're not scoring any points here buddy. Since you posted, it shows you have no self control. You're a hypocrite. You can disagree with someone else's opinion, so just try that instead of being a pompous you know what.

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

By the way, he didn't mention as much about politics as you did. He actually mentioned KU's Chancellor's role in hiring or firing coaches. It is relevant here because the Chancellor of state universities is a political appointment.

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

Lance, you're right. Some are so eager haters of the Tea Party, they make themselves look the way they are always predicted to be. They want you to shut up, Hitler also wanted to shut up dissenters. They don't want to discuss it here, or in other, actual political forums, so they have to display their hatred of others. It's called political correctness, which is fear of criticizing certain people.

Gary McCullough 8 years, 2 months ago

The Chancellor is responsible for the entire University. This is NOT government interference. It is her job to oversee Athletics, along with every other department in the University. Every problem in the world is not due to big government. Stop watching Faux News.

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

What does this have to do with Fox News?


Titus Canby 8 years, 2 months ago

Point #4 is definitely the most telling. If players hadn't thrown in the towel on the season, they may have thrown in the towel on Weiss.

Cora Smith 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe it was 100 per cent for the players. Otherwise, one of the first calls would not have gone to Dana Anderson. When you have lost the money people and can't come close to filling up the stands, that is when a change happens or they are looking for a new AD, also. I learned long ago. It is about the money

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 2 months ago

Warriner, Beaty, Morris, Montegomery, Frost.. ALL Offensive minds and that is what we need in the Big 12. All are coordinators/position coaches with success and have done great jobs recruiting (Beaty, Morris, Warriner, Frost) These should be the guys that get the first call and gauge their interest. Then look at guys like the CSU coach, maybe Bowen (depending on how he does) the ECU coach, or some of the FBS coaches with success.

I am die hard KU fan and I love the Jayhawks but the last thing that really matters is always having KU ties. Yes we would love that but we need a guy that has a PROVEN track record of recruiting, winning, and sustaining success developing players and getting the results. Building a program is not easy, but if a guy has been around 1-3 successful programs they know what it should look like, how it should run and should be able to duplicate it. KU has money and donors that are willing to help but we need someone to give them a reason.

TX ties are important especially for recruiting but we need someone who can RECRUIT all over and bring in kids. CA,FL, and the southern states are just as important as TX were football is year round sport.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 2 months ago

Being a successful coordinator does not necessarily lead to being a successful HC.

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 2 months ago

No but a successful coordinator at a successful program under a successful HC can mean a lot

Dale Rogers 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't see Zenger getting heavily into the search until he's had time to evaluate Bowen's performance. I suspect he's thinking this might just work but won't, and shouldn't, make that commitment just yet.

I'm hoping this goes well for Clint Bowen. If it works out, KU may just have a good HC for the next 25 years. Wouldn't that be nice.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 2 months ago

There's not going to be anything beyond phone calls and feelers sent out to possible candidates until mid November just because other people are busy with current teams to lose a day interviewing for the job. It also gives Bowen a fair shot at winning the job without looking over his back for now.

kellerman411 8 years, 2 months ago

What do you guys think Bowen needs to do to win the job? How many games does he need to win?

I say if he can win 2 games and not get blown out more than twice, he has a shot at the job. If he wins 3 games, the gig is his.

kellerman411 8 years, 2 months ago

With one of those 3 wins being on the road that is.

Chris Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

Good question.

It's hard to say I think, but given that the "cupcake" portion of the schedule is over, I think I'd have to agree with you. If he can win two Big 12 games with this team, even if neither are away games, and not get utterly destroyed more than once or twice in any of the other games, then I think he deserves a chance. Not a $10-12.5 million dollar guaranteed 5-year contract chance mind you, but maybe a $4 million non-guaranteed 5-year contract?

After all, if you are going to let a coach have another season, you don't just put him on a 1-year deal, there has to be SOME kind of commitment that the coach can sell to potential recruits. But with KU (and it's donors) blowing $25.5 million dollars in the last four and a half years on head coaches that aren't working for us anymore ($3m for Mangino, $10m committed to Gil, $12.5m commited to Weis), Zenger's ability to take a big financial risk on an unproven coach has got to be pretty restrained. Plus with Bowen, we know he doesn't have any other offers waiting out there for even half that much money, and we know how badly he wants to be here, so we don't have to risk a fortune by giving him another enormous contract. I'm not saying we should take advantage of him because he's a diehard KU fan who will work for less to be here, but $800K/yr (not including potential performance bonuses) would be way more than he can make anywhere else right now and isn't at all unreasonable for a bottom feeder Big 12 program. Besides, if he has the team going in a positive direction in 15' and 16', we'll extend his contract with a 200% (or more) raise anyway.

Or alternatively, if he earns an extended stay this season by winning a couple of games and it turns out that he's not getting the job done in 15' or maybe 16', we can move on inexpensively.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

I posted at more depth on a different title, but I agree with you. 2 games and he's probably top 5 in the coaching search, 3 games and he's the favorite to land the job, unless Zenger can land a real zinger.

I don't care if any of the wins are on the road or not. If he wins the three remaining home games, then that's two wins over top 25 teams (OSU and TCU)and a win over ISU that is no joke. The easiest of the road games are probably this Saturday at WVU and in two weeks at TTU. If he beats KSU, OU, or Baylor then we should build a statue for him.

Titus Canby 8 years, 2 months ago

Yep, win 2 games and be competitive in the rest, he'll deserve and get the job. Still, that's a very tall order with OU, Baylor, Ok State and even WVU on the schedule.

Vernon Riggs 8 years, 2 months ago

Zenger has his career on the line with this hire. He doesn't get a third chance. He must nail it. Therefore to go with Bowen a popular, but unproven coach, Bowen would have to beat Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia. He would have to be competitive with Kansas State, TCU and OSU. He has to avoid blow-outs with OU and Baylor. He has a tough job to pull those eight rabbits out of his hat.

Micky Baker 8 years, 2 months ago

There is something being missed here. Even if Zenger does have a decision made before the end of this season, there will likely not be any announcements until after whatever team the other coach comes from is done with their season, including a bowl game. They don't want to cause distractions for the teams their currently working for. I can't blame them for that.

With that said, it is almost inevitable that something is going to leak out to the media some where and will get wind of it if there is a guy that Zenger hires from outside Kansas. The rumors are going to fly as we get closer to the end of the season.

There seems to be some trouble in San Francisco where two of the possible candidates are at, and maybe that might be that someone is already talking to Harbaugh and/or Leavitt about a college head coaching job. Not saying it means anything, but crazier things have happened.

Pamela Shanks 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't know that this has been explored directly though some have alluded to it. Anyone else wondering if Zenger is crazy like a fox? If he wanted to both get rid of Weis and give Bowen a chance, this is the perfect way to do it. Avoid the controversy that comes with firing a coach mid-season by promoting the native son. I for one have not been at all surprised by the reception for Bowen. The players, fans and even the media have been nothing but positive. This promotion put a positive spin on a move that could be otherwise viewed with negativity. And, let's say he liked what he saw over the past couple of years from Bowen. As he began to consider this, he wanted to give him a chance. But can you go with someone without the head coach resume from the get go? If only he could find a way to give him a chance...and he did!!
My only disagreement is with those who think that 2 wins won't guarantee serious consideration. With 2 wins, he is in contention. With the schedule we have left, I think even wonder if 1 win and lots of close games (translate to on-field progress) would be enough.

Jim Erickson 8 years, 2 months ago

Matt Tait... Great article. I'm not advocating for Mangino over all others, but am still baffled about the idea that he won't even be mentioned. Risks or not, bad blood or not, there is still rationale appeal for both sides. He needs a coaching gig. Both sides know he can build and win here. At the least, would you mind expanding and giving a few more concrete points on why it's not even in the realm of possibility? Thanks!

Dirk Medema 8 years, 2 months ago

There was some public discussion regarding some public abuse of a university employee - parking meter ticket person (?), but I'm also recalling that he hadn't endeared himself to many other staff in the office.

There are too many other coaches capable of winning, maybe even better than 50%, and that don't have the social baggage.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 2 months ago

Does Bowen make more money while he's the interim? I don't think I've heard that addressed anywhere, and I'm curious as hell! And I don't care what anybody says, there are is another win on the schedule in Iowa State, they aren't any better than we are...I just wish I could feel good about a second win.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 2 months ago

5th question after reading a story today about Harbaugh in SF. It talked about his 5 yr, $25M contract, or something like that.

Do we dole out a guaranteed $5M/yr if Harbaugh was willing to come to KU?

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 2 months ago

No because Harbaugh's tendency seems to be to not stay in one place too long. KU is a 5 year project and I don't think Harbaugh would stay at KU when a better offer came along.

Brad Strauss 8 years, 2 months ago

I read SMU has an interest in Mac Brown. I think he would pick KU over SMU.

Rick McGowwan 8 years, 2 months ago

So, obviously this will be conjecture, but here are the most likely reasons Mangino will not be coming back:

  1. There were findings of fact that KU, a pubic university, made against Mangino. Regardless of whether or not these were fair, if Mangino was to be employed by KU, and another incident took place, the liability on KU would be enormous.

  2. Mangino was paid a ton of money to go away, and most importantly, not talk about the settlement. There is a good bet that part of the settlement was Mangino would no longer be eligible to be employed at KU (this is pretty common in termination agreements).

  3. How do you face the boosters that paid for Mangino to leave? Do you refund them? This is a serious question. You can't bite that hand that feeds you.

I like Mangino. A lot. The reality is the reason(s) he will never come back to KU have little to do with pride and are most likely spelled out in plain English is a non-disclosure termination agreement.

Seriously though, let's move on.

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 2 months ago

Mangino won 3 times in his entire career with KU against OU, Texas, Baylor, Ok St, and Texas Tech. That's nearly half of our current schedule every year. I agree he did better than any coach we've had for awhile, but he's no where near perfect. Let's leave fairy land and get back to planet earth. Mangino will never coach at KU again. I hope Bowen wins a few especially on the road because I'd love to have a guy as passionate about KU football be our coach. Maybe find a way to get Beaty in here to help him recruit and I think things could work out.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

as far as the Mack Brown connection, I seriously doubt we'd go that direction. I read an article on ESPN and Brown didn't deny that he was interested in coaching again, he just stated that he was going to wait until after the season and he was going to talk to his bosses at ESPN about his future there before he talked to anyone about whatever's next. The article did make the connection about the KU and SMU jobs being open.

I wouldn't expect him to be back on the sidelines next year, but I think SMU would be a more likely scenario for him. We've been burned twice by big contracts and once already by a coach at the end of his career. We're likely not talking to many coaches who will command a high salary and are close to retirement. SMU however is desperate to pump some life and some interest into their program. We're likely are less interested now in the big fish hire than we were 3 years ago (unless we get a real shot at Harbaugh maybe). They've got Larry Brown in basketball and could pull a similar coux in football.

I threw Mack Brown out as a punch line a few weeks ago when Keegan posted his absurdly early and incredibly unneccesary (or whatever) column about who should be the next coach at KU. I didn't think it would even be a consideration for Brown to coach again. I would have figured that if he got back into athletics it would be as the AD at UT, like Tom Osborne.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 2 months ago

A lot of people thought he was going to end up getting the AD job, but didn't and the Texas AD job may not be open again while Mack is alive. I could definitely see Mack taking a job where there is much less pressure and he can focus more on mentoring like how Howard Schnellenberger did at Florida Atlantic to end his career.

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