Posts tagged with Coaching Search 2021

No reason to expect KU’s football roster to fall apart after hiring of Lance Leipold

Members of the Kansas football team circle up to watch teammates battle through a drill during a spring practice at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, in April of 2021.

Members of the Kansas football team circle up to watch teammates battle through a drill during a spring practice at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, in April of 2021.

After what will go down as a thorough search for its new football coach, the University of Kansas has its man in Lance Leipold.

And just because Leipold is not the name that a large and loud chunk of the current KU roster backed throughout the search does not spell doom for Kansas football.

There’s little doubt that several of the Jayhawks who just went through spring ball with interim coach Emmett Jones wanted to see what Jones could do with the position on a full-time basis.

But just because first-year KU Athletic Director Travis Goff did not elect to go with their guy does not mean that the roster will fall apart in front of our eyes.

A few guys will leave. There’s no question about that. It happens every time there’s turnover in the head coach’s office at 99% of the schools in America. And it will happen here in the weeks and months ahead.

But the majority of the roster will remain intact. And the reasons for this are many.

• Some players simply do not have anywhere else to go — at least not if they want to continue to play major college football in a Power 5 conference. Remember, in order for someone to leave, some other place has to want them. And while the Kansas roster has been upgraded with talented players that many schools would surely scoop up, not every school has scholarships available this late in the game. In fact, most don’t. So for many of these guys it likely will boil down to staying at KU or transferring to a lower level. With so many players in the transfer portal and looking for new homes, there’s something to be said for staying put with your friends and teammates at a place that provides the opportunities and facilities that Kansas does.

• The KU football rebuild under Leipold will be a long, hard climb, but there’s no doubt that it’s one that several Jayhawks still want to attempt. Many of these guys already have put a lot of heart into trying to get this thing going again and likely will not want to quit now. Sticking it out isn’t for everybody, but there’s a real sense of ownership and camaraderie among the guys who are here.

• We have no idea yet how Leipold is going to sell himself or his vision to the 100-plus Jayhawks on the current roster. But isn’t it possible that a lot of them are going to like what they hear? New energy and the promise of a fresh start might be all that’s needed for the current players to get fired up again. After all, with every new start comes a new opportunity and Leipold seems like a fair coach in that regard who likes to reward hard work.

• Finally, the identity of KU’s head coach is a big deal to a lot of people. But most of these guys just want to play football. As long as a position coach or two and their teammates stick around, that may be enough to entice several Jayhawks to stick around, too. And you might be surprised by the fact that some of the players who were most vocal with their support of Jones could be the first ones in Leipold’s office, telling him how excited they are to play for him. That’s just the way these things tend to go and the gesture does not necessarily say anything about Jones or Leipold. It says everything about the resilience of the kids.

I don’t doubt that the Jayhawks who threw their support behind Jones truly believed in him and wanted to play for him as the head coach at Kansas.

I don’t blame them either. Every conversation I’ve ever had with Jones left me impressed and wanting to hear more. He’s a terrific leader and the man knows his football, too.

But it’s not as if he didn’t get a real shot here. He interviewed. Goff and company listened to his vision for the program and carefully considered all of the unique input he had to offer.

For a wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator who likely would not have gotten an interview at any other Power 5 school at this point in his career, that’s not nothing.

And hopefully KU will do right by Jones with some kind of meaningful thank-you gesture for the work he did to hold the program together amid turmoil this spring. Retaining him would be a great start. Throwing in a pay raise or hefty bonus would be even better.

And the guess here is that, as long as Jones wants to stick around Lawrence, KU will be happy to have him.

That should help soften the blow of the hire going in a different direction than many current players wanted and could be the biggest factor in KU keeping this roster together heading into the 2021 season.

Reply 5 comments from West_virginia_hawk Inteldesign Matt Tait Brett McCabe Dirk Medema

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

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Lance Leipold is shown in this Nov. 19, 2016, file photo, during a Buffalo game against Western Michigan, in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Lance Leipold is shown in this Nov. 19, 2016, file photo, during a Buffalo game against Western Michigan, in Kalamazoo, Mich. by Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

It did not take long for first-year/first-month University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff to identify Lance Leipold as the right hire for the KU football job, proof positive that Goff was talking to the right people during the recent search to replace Les Miles.

From the minute Miles left town, Leipold’s name was the one I heard most often from multiple people who are deeply invested in the success and history of Kansas football.

Their passion for the program and burning desire to see it get back on the right track led them to Leipold, a no-frills kind of coach who believes in three things — hard work, humility and winning football games.

The first two will be easy for him to emphasize here and figure to be cornerstones of the rebuilding project. The third will take time. But unlike the other recent KU football hires, which all seemed to have some sort of gimmicky angle attached to them, this one is just about football.

Leipold is not a big name. He does not carry a Hollywood persona. He’s not known as a hot-shot recruiter. He’s not the up-and-coming next big thing. He’s just a football coach. A grinder. And he has proven at his past two stops that his way of coaching delivers results that people like to see.

Maybe hiring a guy from the same program that sent KU the coach who started the Jayhawks’ skid more than a decade ago will exorcise the demons that have haunted this program since 2010.

While we’re on that topic, don’t think for a second that just because they both coached at Buffalo Leipold and Turner Gill are similar in style or substance. Truth be told, the two aren’t even in the same stratosphere when it comes to their track record as football coaches.

But while Leipold’s list of accomplishments is impressive — both at Buffalo and at his previous stop at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater (his alma mater), where he won six national championships in eight seasons — it’s how he went about achieving his success that makes him best suited to take over at Kansas.

Remember, this is an evaluation and development job. No matter who the head coach is, KU is not going to out-recruit the programs it competes against. So the coaching staff needs to find those diamonds in the rough, get them on campus and then get the best of out of them.

Sometimes that means getting lucky on a prospect that others overlooked. Other times it means turning a quarterback or tight end into an all-conference offensive lineman.

But that stuff doesn’t happen by chance. It takes a keen eye to identify the potential and then a demanding and disciplined philosophy to make it work. Leipold has both.

That was a big part of how both Glen Mason and Mark Mangino did it, and those are the only two KU coaches in the past five decades who enjoyed any kind of real and sustained success during their time in Lawrence.

If you look at Leipold’s recent recruiting at Buffalo, it looks a lot like Mangino’s at KU. The Bulls’ recent classes were full of underrated prospects that very few other programs wanted who Buffalo took a chance on and turned into all-conference type players.

Going back to his time at Whitewater, where development of overlooked players is what it’s always about, Leipold won 109 of 115 games in eight seasons and became the fastest coach to reach 100 victories in NCAA history, all with kids known as football players who put their faith in Leipold to lead them and did not care about seeing their names on SportsCenter or their coach on commercials. Their coach didn’t either.

Leipold will have more and better resources at KU than he ever could imagine. And the fact that his coaching career — and the success that came with it — is rooted in doing more with less should be a good fit for Kansas right off the bat.

Let’s face it; KU in its current state is a Power 5 football program by association only.

Winning will be harder to do here than at any other place Leipold has ever coached football. But the fact that that did not scare him off is the first good sign.

The second is the fact that after a successful turnaround at Buffalo, Leipold is ready and willing to do it all over again at Kansas. It takes a special personality to enjoy operating in that space.

At a time when Kansas football desperately needed to press the reset button and start over with a coach who is comfortable in the grind, who celebrates small victories instead of promising championships and talking about building a dynasty, Goff went out and hired a man who is known just for that.

Now the fun begins and Leipold gets the opportunity to show whether his approach can work at the Power 5 level.

It will be a while before we know the answer to that question. But there’s little doubt that Leipold’s path has prepared him for the challenge and his past successes make him a hard man to bet against.

Reply 7 comments from Kall3742 Dirk Medema Jerry Walker Leikness Dale Rogers Brett McCabe Njjayhawk

KU AD Travis Goff is not taking too long to hire a football coach, you’re just excited; both are OK

Travis Goff, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, introduces himself as KU’s new athletic director Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the Lied Center on KU's west campus.

Travis Goff, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, introduces himself as KU’s new athletic director Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the Lied Center on KU's west campus. by Mike Yoder

There should be no concern among the Kansas fan base over how thorough new KU Athletic Director Travis Goff has been in his vetting of football candidates.

Multiple sources familiar with the most recent KU football coaching search have raved about Goff’s preparedness, his plan and his execution of that plan, as he sought to make the first major hire of his career.

One source with decades of college football experience under his belt said Goff ran as quiet a search as he had ever seen. Another said Goff was so thorough in his evaluation of the candidates that he felt comfortable relying first on the information he gained during the process, which included Zoom and in-person interviews, background checks and more.

What a refreshing change of pace from what led Les Miles to Lawrence.

It’s no secret that former KU AD Jeff Long’s light vetting of Miles during that hiring process in late 2018 was at least in part to blame for the demise of both Miles and Long.

Even on his way out the door Long insisted that he did everything he could to find out all that he could about Miles’ past and ability to lead the KU program. But the outcome, both of Miles’ two seasons in charge and the way both men departed, suggests otherwise. And that’s to say nothing about the fake flight plans that were filed during the search and center-stage focus given to ESPN’s Miles to Go series.

But enough about the past. It’s the present that has me believing that the Kansas football program, no matter who Goff ends up picking, is finally in position to make a quality hire.

No gimmicks or crippling limitations. No heavier than necessary outside influences. No need or desire to win the press conference or make a splash.

The only goal here appears to be winning football games. And Goff seems to get that if he finds the guy who can do that, things will get a lot easier from there.

There has been some whining in the Twitterverse and on message boards — I know, shocking, right?!?! — about how long this process has taken. It hasn't been overly long, by the way and it appears to be nearing its end. But even if it were longer than normal, the reasons for that are solid.

For one, it’s as big of a hire as KU football will make or has made in years, and it’s important to get it right, whatever the cost.

For two, the fact that Goff has taken his time should give KU fans nothing but confidence in his ability to lead this athletic department.

Those who rush and seek approval and fun feedback from a flashy approach are much more prone to make a mistake than those who measure twice and cut once. Some might say that Goff has measured three or four times already and still has not fired up the blade.

Goff should be commended for tuning out the noise and taking whatever time he felt was necessary. Not only has that increased his odds of him making a sound hire, but it also shows him doing exactly what he said he would do when he announced the start of the search.

“We will take the time necessary to identify our next head coach and ask for your patience and support during this important chapter for Kansas football,” Goff wrote in a letter to donors exactly two weeks ago. Who’s going to argue with a man sticking to his word? And what’s wrong with making sure he gets it right and is totally comfortable with the hire he’s about to make?

That sentiment would be true for any AD, but it seems particularly important with a first-time AD making a hire of this magnitude.

So crack a beer, grab a book, hit the gym or take a nap.

No matter what you need to help pass the time until the hire is revealed, it sure has the feeling that it’ll be worth the wait.

Reply 7 comments from West_virginia_hawk John Sheppard Dirk Medema Dale Rogers Matt Tait Njjayhawk Brett McCabe

KU football coaching search appears to be nearing an end, but waiting until after Saturday’s spring game to announce the hire is the right move

Saturday's Spring Game crowd at Memorial Stadium.

Saturday's Spring Game crowd at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

If you’re the type that furiously scrolls through Twitter or regularly frequents message boards to find out the latest bit of potential news — good or bad, real or speculative — on the Kansas football coaching search, you probably know that it’s already been a hot week.

No less than half a dozen reports exist out there that say KU is closing in on hiring its next coach and that the search is nearing its end.

Heck, one rogue tweet even went as far as to say someone had been hired — with the serious CYA hedge language included, of course.

Regardless of where things stand today or how quickly things are finalized, I keep feeling like the official announcement will not come until early next week.

The reason? It seems only right, from KU’s perspective, to let interim head coach Emmett Jones see things through to the end of spring football before announcing the new boss.

Jones has done a terrific job of holding the program together and keeping the players engaged and willing to work hard this spring. And none of those things was even close to a given in early March, when both Les Miles and Jeff Long left town amid controversy.

For that, Jones deserves his moment to shine.

No, the spring game will not be on national television or count on any kind of official record. But it is what Jones and the KU staff have been working toward for more than a month and it would be a nice gesture by KU to let them have the spotlight one last time before everything changes.

That’s not to say there won’t be leaks or unconfirmed reports about the hire before Saturday's 6 p.m. spring game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Those are almost unavoidable in this day and age.

But it would be an incredibly classy move by KU to wait to announce anything on its end until Sunday at the earliest, with an introductory press conference early next week.

Most reports, along with my sources, say this will come down to Buffalo’s Lance Leipold or Army’s Jeff Monken. Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz is the other name that has continued to surface during the past few days.

All three are proven head coaches. Both Leipold and Monken have been first-tier candidates from Day 1. Both are terrific football coaches with winning track records who would bring several new and needed elements to this struggling football program. And either would be a popular choice among the KU fan base.

To be frank, the mere fact that Kansas is in the running to land either coach after the dismal decade it just finished should be viewed as an incredibly good sign for the future of the program.

No matter who is hired, the job won’t be easy. Patience and perseverance will be critical traits for the new coach and his staff, first-year AD Travis Goff and KU fans.

But there’s a real sense among several people associated with KU that hiring either Leipold or Monken would be the first rock solid step in a successful rebuilding process that’s long overdue.

KU and its fans have waited this long to get to this point. What’s the harm in waiting a few more days, when that wait will provide the opportunity to say thanks to a good man and potentially important part of the future of the program in Jones?

Reply 14 comments from West_virginia_hawk Matt Tait Plasticjhawk Andy Godwin Runningbeakers84 Dale Rogers Inteldesign Dirk Medema Brett McCabe Rockchalkjd

A few key questions surrounding the KU football coaching search

New KU Athletic Director Travis Goff, right, chats with KU Chancellor Douglas Girod during Goff's introduction on April 7, 2021 at the Lied Center.

New KU Athletic Director Travis Goff, right, chats with KU Chancellor Douglas Girod during Goff's introduction on April 7, 2021 at the Lied Center. by Mike Yoder

As yet another Kansas football coaching search moves through a new week, the most obvious question on the minds of KU fans is simple: Who are the Jayhawks going to hire?

It may take a little bit of time to sort that out. And we probably will never know the full extent to which new KU Athletic Director Travis Goff went during his first football hire.

Some information will leak out. And the identity of a handful of candidates will no doubt surface. But Goff, like many of his predecessors and other ADs across the country, is doing his best to keep things quiet so he can do a thorough search and find the best options for Kansas.

No matter what names Goff writes down or crosses off of his list in the coming days, a few key questions likely will determine who Goff hires.

Here’s a look:

• How important are past ties to the KU program?

This, it turned out, was a big deal in the AD search that landed Goff. But I don’t get the sense that it’s in play much for the football hire. Goff has done his due diligence and talked to all kinds of people associated with Kansas football, past and present, to help him formulate a plan. And it seems likely that he’ll interview at least one or two coaches with ties to KU. But that does not appear to be a prerequisite for getting the job nor does it automatically vault any candidate to the top of the list.

• How much can (or will) KU pay?

This is a loaded question and has a lot of factors. For one, KU, like all athletic departments across the country, is dealing with a smaller budget and declining revenue in the wake of the pandemic. But that fact does not automatically preclude Goff from paying KU’s next football coach a competitive salary. The safe bet here is this: He’ll pay whatever is required to get the guy he wants. Based on the names that have surfaced in the early portion of the search, my best guess is that the value will be above $1 million but below $2 million. That obviously could change as new names get involved. But that seems like a good range and would put KU at or below the average starting salary of its last four head coaches. Turner Gill ($2 million), Charlie Weis ($2.5 million), David Beaty ($800,000) and Les Miles ($2.775 million) averaged $2,018,750 per year in their initial contracts with KU. The good news here is that I do not believe Goff will be boxed into paying a low wage the way Sheahon Zenger was with Beaty.

• How much will Goff lean on others to help make the hire?

From the sound of things, the answer is a lot. And good for him. Thus far, he’s talked to a lot of people and gathered a lot of insight into the state of the program, and his previous knowledge of the situation, as a KU grad and KU fan, also has helped him better understand the situation. But he is still a first-time AD who is making his first major coaching hire, and asking for help is another smart move. In addition to talking to people connected to the program, Goff is expected to use the assistance of a search firm and an internal search committee, both of which will help him vet candidates and serve as a sounding board as he tries to cobble together a list of finalists. The business of hiring a Division I college football coach is a major undertaking, and going at it alone only increases the odds of a bad hire.

• What kind of timeline are we looking at?

The only thing we know for sure is that Goff has said he plans to take whatever time is necessary to find the right guy. However, there is a little bit of urgency associated with the process, simply because whoever is hired will walk in already behind on Day 1 and will have limited time to make up for it prior to the start of the 2021 season. Some programs don’t even start spring practices until mid-to-late April, so waiting might have been the better play for Kansas in 2021. Instead, KU’s spring game is slated for May 1 and there has been talk of having a hire made by then or shortly thereafter. Goff himself, however, has given no specific dates or goals for a timeline.

• What kind of impact might COVID-19 have?

At least initially, it could actually make things go a little faster. After all, people from all walks of life have become well versed in Zoom calls these days, so some of the early steps in the search might be able to be taken from Goff’s office over the computer. There is no substitute for in-person interaction, though, so once they get to the point where things are starting to get serious, you can still expect in-person interviews, either on or off campus. But Goff’s ability to instantly be connected via computer with agents, committees, search firm representatives and even candidates themselves might make things a little smoother. COVID-19 should not create any kind of significant delays in the search short of one of KU’s top candidates actually having COVID.

• Isn't it too late for sitting head coaches to leave their teams to take the Kansas job?

In many cases, the answer here would be yes, but not in all cases and not in this case. While it’s unlikely that a Power 5 head coach would leave for another Power 5 job in April or May, it has happened. It’s also not unheard of for Group of 5 coaches to make the jump. After all, there are only so many Power 5 jobs out there and you never know when your chance to get one will come up again. Regardless of the time of year, that makes it much easier to pounce on the opportunity to break through and collect bigger paychecks. Take Buffalo coach Lance Leipold as an example. Leipold’s a popular name this time around and he is a candidate for the job. He also just wrapped up spring practices at Buffalo and has a ton of starters returning from a team that went 6-1 last season with a bowl win over Marshall. While it might make sense for Leipold to want to return to Buffalo for one more year, hoping to go 10-2 and be in the mix for even bigger/better Power 5 jobs in December, doing so would come with some risk. What if Buffalo’s QB gets hurt or half of the team’s secondary goes down? That could turn a potential 10-2 season into 6-6 or 5-7 in a hurry and that could take Leipold out of the running during the next hiring cycle. Some coaches might be willing to take that risk, but those who aren’t won’t have any problem making the move now if KU offers them the job.

Reply 8 comments from Brett McCabe Jeff Coffman Charlie Gaughn Cora Smith Brjam

Where things stand with the KU football coaching search now that KU AD Travis Goff is off and running

The Kansas football team is welcomed back to the field by a large crowd during a team scrimmage in 2006 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas football team is welcomed back to the field by a large crowd during a team scrimmage in 2006 at Memorial Stadium. by thad-allender

First-year KU Athletic Director Travis Goff on Thursday informed KU’s donors that he was beginning a national search to find KU’s next head football coach.

In an email sent out Thursday afternoon, Goff expressed his appreciation for the job interim head coach Emmett Jones and his staff have done to this point and he also thanked the KU players for their role in pushing through spring practices with uncertainty surrounding the program.

Jones, Goff noted, will be a candidate for the job, but KU’s new AD also promised to do “a thorough national search” to find the “ideal fit to lead this program into the future.”

The email did not specify any kind of timeline for a hire to be made, noting instead that Goff and his staff will take the necessary time to find the right head coach for KU.

That could mean weeks. It could mean months. And it almost certainly will cover a wide range of factors, from coast to coast, names big and small and current head coaches and up-and-comers.

Now that Goff has taken the time to ask questions, receive input and make a few phone calls, the fun can really begin.

It stands to help a great deal that this is not brand-new territory for him. Sure, he’s a first-time AD. And, no, he’s never hired a coach to lead a Power 5 football program before. But, as a KU grad and Jayhawk fan, he stepped into the process at least somewhat aware of what’s gone wrong as well as informed about the few things that have gone right during the past decade.

Adding to that knowledge with feedback and information from those who have lived it can only bolster his understanding of what the program needs.

Expect KU to form some kind of internal search committee to aid Goff and don't be surprised if powerhouse search firm TurnkeyZRG, which helped with KU's search to find Goff, gets involved in the process, as well.

As of Friday morning, there was nothing about the KU job on Turnkey's website, but that's worth watching in the days and weeks ahead.

Don't forget that the current financial challenges KU is facing, both because of COVID and the recent settlements paid to former AD Jeff Long (~$1.4 million) and former KU football coach Les Miles (~$2 million), also could play a role in who KU pursues and/or attracts.

With that in mind, here’s an updated look at where things appear to stand at the outset of KU’s coaching search. It’s worth noting (even if it should be obvious) that the names listed below are nowhere near the only ones that may be involved with the search. Instead, they’re the names I’ve heard the most about to this point.

The Hot Names

You can speculate all you want about who’s involved, who wants the job, who might be the best fit and so on. And doing that might create a fairly lengthy list. But there’s little doubt that there are at least three current head coaches who are very interested in talking with Kansas about the position. They’re on everyone’s list and you should expect all three to be involved deep into the process.

• Army head coach Jeff Monken (54) – Whether you’ve fallen in love with the triple option idea or would prefer Monken bring a more modern offense to town with him (which is sounds like he would do), the fact remains that the man is a proven football coach who consistently coaches some of the toughest teams in college football and prides himself on discipline and execution.

• Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold (56) – Stop with the nonsense about Turner Gill coming from Buffalo. There is absolutely no connection between the two coaches, and no one should be scared off by Leipold’s current position. What should matter is the fact that he’s actually won there at a much better rate than Gill did before he became a hot name and the fact that he believes he can win at Kansas, too.

• Tulane head coach Willie Fritz (61) – Yes, Fritz is a Kansas native who has been interested in the job before. No, Goff and Fritz were not at Tulane at the same time. Beyond that, Fritz has done well at Tulane and is very well respected in the coaching profession.

You can read more about all three of the aforementioned potential candidates in Benton Smith's breakdown from late March.

Other Names Worth Watching

There almost certainly will be other coaches involved in KU’s search than the three listed above, and while that opens the door to a whole bunch of other names, there are a few who stand out in that sort of second tier above the rest.

• Nevada head coach Jay Norvell (58) – Norvell is one of the most popular “other names” I keep hearing, and his recent success at Nevada (25-22 since 2017 with 3 bowl appearances) and past history in the Big 12 Conference make him worth a look. He’s also on the right end of the pay scale, making less than a million per year to coach the Wolfpack.

• NC State head coach Dave Doeren (49) – Doeren’s been up for the job before, and there’s enough reason to believe he’d still be interested if KU came calling this time around. But the biggest obstacle this time around is likely money. In addition to recently signing and extension that will pay him $3.5 million per year starting in 2021 and running through 2025, Doeren’s buyout at NC State is more than $6 million. Beyond that, Doeren has it rolling at NC State and receives a ton of support for the program from the administration.

• Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton (52) – The former Ottawa University football coach (1997-2000) has done his share of rebuilding, both at EMU via three bowl appearances in a four-year span (2016, 2018 & 2019) and at Drake, Wabash and Ottawa before that.

• Texas A&M OC Darrell Dickey (61) - Former K-Stater who played for the Wildcats from 1979-82, Dickey has been a key part of Jimbo Fisher's success at A&M since 2018. Known as a time-of-possession type of coach, Dickey's offenses have valued ball control and physicality. Has experience as an OC at several programs (Memphis, Utah State, New Mexico and SMU) and also was the head coach at North Texas from 1998-2006.

If KU Goes A Different Direction

Remember, the man doing the hiring on this one is a 41-year-old, first-time AD who just saw the powers that be at KU take a chance on him. Could he be looking to do the same by going with a less-heralded, first-time head coach? I wouldn’t bet on it. But if it starts to move that way, here are a few names to watch.

• Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard (38) – On staff at his alma mater since 2016, and the Badgers’ DC since 2017, the longtime NFL safety has started to make a name for himself in college coaching. Is close with current Baylor coach Dave Aranda and has been honored as one of the top assistants in college football for his unique approach, natural charisma and confidence.

• Tennessee OC Alex Golesh (36) – Armed with vast experience in a variety of positions and places in college football coaching since 2004, Golesh is another outside-the-box thinker who has made a name for himself in the college game with his innovative approach to both offense and recruiting. Before joining Josh Heupel at Central Florida in 2020 (and now at Tennessee), Golesh was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Matt Campbell at Iowa State.

• Kansas Interim HC Emmett Jones (45) - Goff noted in his email to donors on Thursday that Jones would be a candidate for the job, and the high-energy interim coach that has led the Jayhawks through spring practice is a wildly popular choice among players currently on the roster. In addition to that, Jones, who served as the wide receivers coach at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury prior to coming to Kansas, has been one of the most successful recruiters in the Big 12 during the past several seasons because of his strong ties to the Dallas area and the state of Texas in general.

• Illinois Associate HC Kevin Kane (37) – The former KU player and assistant coach who is now the associate head coach at Illinois, Kane has been one of the most popular coaches with direct KU ties to come up during talk of the search. In addition to landing at Illinois for the upcoming season, the Rockhurst High grad who starred at KU from 2002-05 has been on staffs at Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and SMU and appears destined to become a head coach at some point.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen a few of these names kicked around. We won’t go into them a whole lot because that would contradict the title of this section. But I figured it was worth mentioning them so you did not waste another minute hoping, wishing or wondering about their candidacy at KU.

• Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald – Goff and Fitzgerald have a great relationship and Fitz is a great coach. But he’s not leaving his alma mater for Kansas.

• Former KU HC Mark Mangino – We’ve probably reached the point where this does not even need to be said, but in case there are still a few of you dreamers out there, Mangino’s not coming back. He should be — and possibly has been — involved in the search as a de facto consultant, but nothing more than that.

• Former Texas and Houston HC Tom Herman – There’s a lot to like about Herman on the surface, both in the sense of his recent familiarity with the conference and the fact that he could be extra motivated after getting fired by Texas. But I’ve heard that he may not be quite ready to jump back into the business of running a program and may elect to be more patient as he waits for his next opportunity.

Reply 17 comments from Jim Stauffer Chad Smith Inteldesign Lance Hobson Dirk Medema Dale Rogers Buck Bukaty Jeff Coffman Cora Smith Kyle Rohde and 4 others

A potential starting point for KU AD Travis Goff’s search for a new football coach

Travis Goff, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, left, fist-bumps KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, right, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the Lied Center on KU's west campus.

Travis Goff, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, left, fist-bumps KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, right, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the Lied Center on KU's west campus. by Mike Yoder

Now that all of the introductions, handshakes and pleasantries have subsided, new University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff can fully immerse himself in the job of finding KU’s new football coach.

And the place he should start is on the telephone.

If it were me sitting in the AD’s chair, the first three phone calls I would make would be to Mark Mangino, Glen Mason and Clint Bowen.

Not to gauge their interest in the job, of course. But to pick their brains about the position itself — its challenges and hidden secrets and the traits that they believe are most important for the man who calls himself the next Kansas football coach.

The reason for the calls to Mangino and Mason are obvious. As two of the most successful coaches in school history, both men have unique insight into what it takes to build and sustain success in Lawrence.

The call to Bowen, who is now out of the college game and preparing for his first year as the head coach at Lawrence High School, is also essential because he was there for those two successful runs — along with a few failed stints — and because there aren’t many people on the planet who care about the program as much as he does who can offer the kind of insight into the highs and lows and dos and don’ts of rebuilding the program as he can.

Goff, who was hired and introduced last week, said he came to Kansas with an open mind and that he would spend the early portion of KU’s coaching search getting the lay of the land and finding out exactly what Kansas football needs from its next leader.

He also said, in no uncertain terms, that there was a plan.

If the plan, at least in large part, is to come in and evaluate the landscape by talking to as many people as possible before setting out to find the coach who best fits the position, personnel and current problems, Goff is well on his way to making a quality hire.

That certainly seems to be what’s happening.

Sources connected to all three coaches told the Journal-World on Monday that neither Jeff Monken, Willie Fritz nor Lance Leipold — three of the more popular names tied to the opening in recent weeks — had been approached by Kansas as of yet.

That’s not to say they won’t be. Remember, Goff started less than a week ago.

The smart money is on all three getting a call at some point. And all three make plenty of sense for the position on paper and are quality, proven coaches with a history of success.

But there remains a lot of work to be done before candidate phone calls and interviews take place. As long as he’s doing that work, that should be viewed as a good sign of Goff’s ability to do the job.

The instant gratification crowd among KU’s fan base may have preferred it if Goff were introduced last Wednesday with a candidate in mind so he could announce him as KU’s new coach on Friday or sometime today. Bing, bang, boom!

But that would’ve been hasty and probably would not have delivered the best fit for Kansas.

Simply put, the more thorough the approach the better Goff’s chances are of getting the hire right.

And the three names listed above are merely a starting point for that approach on a list that includes current and former players, current and former administrators, fans and donors, other coaches, media members and more. It's possible, perhaps even likely, that Goff and his staff also will use a search firm — perhaps the same TurnkeyZRG group that helped KU find Goff — to help them identify candidates and finalists for the position.

A case can be made for talking to too many people and getting too many opinions in a situation such as this. But as long as Goff uses the input he gets to shape his own opinion about who to hire, the more the merrier.

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