KU coaching search: Reality Check, Kansas; Time to lower your expectations (links)

Brian Graham, KC SportsNation

Kansas football and their fans were hit in their face with a reality check yesterday when the Mad Pirate Mike Leach chose Washington State over Kansas. Washington State? There is no reason why a coach should choose Washington State over Kansas. Leach, the former Texas Tech head coach who went 84-43 in 10 years at Texas Tech before being fired over allegations of abuse of one of his players, Adam James, is reportedly signing a contract at Washington State worth $2.4 million a year from a school that has never paid a football coach more than $750,000. What does this mean for Kansas? It speaks volumes on the lure of the Kansas coaching job.

Why would Leach, Kansas’ top target – and personal friends with Kansas AD Sheaon Zenger – choose Washington State?

  1. Leach thinks its easier to win at Washington State, in the Pac-12, than at Kansas.
  2. There is a possibility Leach thinks the Pac-12 is more stable than the Big 12.

I think one thing is clear, Kansas fans need to lower their expectations. If they can’t get Mike Leach, who was without a job, what big name, homerun hire will they make? There are 14 jobs open across the nation, and many are better than Kansas. On KU’s rivals site, Jayhawk slant, there was a debate that Kansas was as a good of a coaching position as Ole Miss. NOT A CHANCE. Kansas fans need a wake-up call. Mississippi had 38 players out of their state go to BCS programs last year, Kansas…3! No comparison. Will Larry Fedora, Southern Miss’ current head coach, take the KU job or the Ole Miss job? And what about Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes? Will he come to KU, or wait until the Texas Tech job opens up take over the school his dad coached at? I think these are all valid questions.

I know the fans want someone who will make a big impact the next five months, someone who will sell tickets and someone who will excite the fan base, but is that the best thing for the program over the next five YEARS? If I were a Kansas fan I would be worried that Zenger will have the coach he wants, but may not pull the trigger because it may not excite the fan base. The hire may not sell tickets. So be it. Kansas fans must ask themselves, “Is this person a good coach? Will he turnaround the program?”

Kansas fans need to lower their expectations. They also need to be willing to give the hire a chance, if its not a big-name coach. Remember the epic Missouri-fan meltdown over the hiring of Frank Haith as its next head basketball coach? Now, he is being praised just six games into his tenure. Kansas fans must realize that they cant get anybody they want. They also must realize that a lesser-known coach may be the best man for the job, and sadly, the best they can get.

Here are a list of coaches that Jayhawk Slant’s Jon Kirby has as Kansas’ top targets:

LARRY FEDORA

Quick Bio:
Fedora is currently the head coach at Southern Mississippi and the Golden Eagles have been nationally ranked. He has been an offensive coordinator at successful programs like Florida and Oklahoma State.

Why is he in the mix?
Since taking over at Southern Miss Fedora has not had a losing season. Kansas fans can recall when Fedora’s squad almost upset the Jayhawks in 2008. His team’s play with good effort and he’s familiar with the Big 12 area

Reason to keep looking:
Some will claim you can build the Southern Miss program with recruits that might not qualify at a school like Kansas. While Southern Miss has been successful they have yet to win the Conf. USA title and are under .500 in bowl games.

The Inside Slant:
When you start looking at coaches that don’t come from BCS conferences Fedora is at the top of the list. He’s originally from Garland, Tex. and still has connections to the Big 12 area. He’s discipline-minded coach and coaches have told us his teams play with solid effort.

 

JUNE JONES

Quick Bio:
Jones has the SMU program going in the right direction after three seasons. He built a successful program at Hawaii that earned a BCS bowl bid. Jones, a former national coach of the year, has won at two programs. Jones also has NFL head coaching experience.

Why is he in the mix?
Jones has proven he can build a program and turn it into a winner. He uses a unique style of offense. He is currently building ties in Texas, which is a state Kansas must recruit.

Reason to keep looking:
Jones makes around the $2 million mark right now. That is expected to be the ceiling Kansas can start for the next coach. He may not want to make the jump without an increase in pay.

The Inside Slant:
Jones led SMU to their first bowl in 25 years and won three National Coach of the Year Awards. He has college and professional experience. He has built a recruiting base in Texas over the last three years. He is a proven winner at the college level.

 

 

MARK STOOPS

Quick Bio:
Stoops is in his second year at Florida State. He spent the previous six years before that as the defensive coordinator at Arizona. He also coached at Miami as a defensive backs coach.

Why is he in the mix?
While at Arizona he helped build the Wildcats into one of the best defenses in the Pac 12. Now he’s doing the same at Florida State. He’s developed several defensive backs playing in the NFL.

Reason to keep looking:
Some believe that Kansas athletic director will target someone with head coaching experience. He hasn’t coached in the Big 12 area so recruiting ties would be a concern.

The Inside Slant:
Stoops might be the longshot on the list, but we believe there are connections strong enough to put him in the mix. He’s got the bloodlines to a successful football family and has seen what it takes to turn programs around. He’s got good connections in the coaching profession to put together a solid staff.

DAVE CHRISTENSEN

Quick Bio:
Christensen is in his third year at Wyoming and has the Cowboys bowl eligible. Before Wyoming he was an assistant at Missouri where he earned the National Assistant of the Year by Rivals.com. He went to Missouri from Toledo following Gary Pinkel. At Toledo Christensen guided the offense to 75 school records.

Why is he in the mix?
He’s a solid recruiter and knows the Big 12 region. He’s got some experience making decisions as a head coach. He has seen what it takes to win at the Big 12 level.

Reason to keep looking:
There will always be the faction of the Kansas fan base that ties him to Missouri. If Dr. Sheahon Zenger wants someone with more years of experience as a head coach it could bump Christensen down the list.

The Inside Slant:
If Christensen gets in the mix he will interview well having met him several times. He’s a good football mind and knows the Big 12 conference. His offenses are wide open and have been successful at different stops.

 

DAVE DOEREN

Quick Bio:
Doeren is in his first year at Northern Illinois and his team will play for the MAC title. Before landing the head coaching job at NIU he was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. He got his first BCS job at Kansas under Mark Mangino. Doeren was instrumental in developing several linebackers for the Jayhawks

Why is he in the mix?
He’s from Kansas City and has seen the work and style it takes to win at Kansas. There are very few candidates that have been part of the turn-around or winning at Kansas.

Reason to keep looking:
He’s only been a head coach for one season. If Zenger makes it a point to target those with more years on their resume Doeren’s chances would diminish.

The Inside Slant:
He recruited several players that were a key part of the Orange Bowl team in the 2007-08 season. He has a disciplined style that will fit into what Zenger is looking for. The only drawback that will come up is head coaching experience.

 

SONNY DYKES

Quick Bio:
Dykes took over the Louisiana Tech program two years ago. He was the wide receivers coach for Mike Leach at Texas Tech for five years before taking the offensive coordinator position at Arizona. His father Spike, was the legendary coach at Texas Tech.

Why is he in the mix?
Dykes has done a good job early on at Louisiana Tech. He’s implemented a good offensive system. Louisiana Tech just won the WAC title and accepted a bid to the Poinsetta Bowl.

Reason to keep looking:
Like several other early candidates on the board Dykes only has two years as a head coach at a non-BCS school.

The Inside Slant:
Dykes is an intriguing candidate with his ties to Texas. The Louisiana Tech offense is moving the ball well with a system that’s only been in place for two years. He knows the Big 12 area and is well connected to the coaching community.

 

TROY CALHOUN

Quick Bio:
Calhoun is in his sixth season at Air Force. Prior to that he was in the NFL for four years with the Texans and Broncos. He was a finalist for the coach of the year award in 2007, which was his first year at Air Force.

Why is he in the mix?
Calhoun is known as a disciplined coach and former graduate of the Air Force academy. He’s had good success at Air Force appearing in four bowl games.

Reason to keep looking:
Calhoun has limited experience at the BCS level. There will be some that question how quick the option offense could be taught at Kansas. Calhoun’s name will also be mentioned for several other jobs.

The Inside Slant:
Calhoun is more than an option attack coach. He was the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and has been in different offenses. Since 2008 Air Force is the only academy to finish in the 90th percentile.

 

DIRK KOETTER

Quick Bio:
Koetter has been the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars for the last five years. Before joining Jacksonville he was the head coach at Arizona State. He was also the head coach at Boise State when their program was starting to elevate.

Why is he in the mix?
He led Arizona State to four bowl games. He was a key factor in helping build the Boise State program for three years before handing it off to Dan Hawkins. Koetter is a good offensive mind that has proven he can be successful as a head coach.

Reason to keep looking:
He’s been out of the college game for five years. During his time in the college ranks he rarely recruited the Big 12 area.

The Inside Slant:
Not only has Koetter proven he can win as a head coach he did it twice. He’s been coaching for 29 years and has a lot of ties to hire a solid staff. He got a raw deal when he was fired at Arizona State after winning seven games.

***

Lawrence Journal-World: Tale of the Tait: Coaching Search 2011: Day 3, – USM speaks up; Leach to WSU; What’s next for KU; Plus, a deeper look at Mark Stoops

KC Star: What’s next in Kansas’ coaching search

Leach

ESPN – Pac 12 Blog: Leach to WSU: Moos shoots… he scores

Sports Illustrated 11-14-11: Mike Leach Passes It Forward

Gill

KC Star: Bob Lutz: Gill was bad hire from start for KU

 

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