You knew the day was coming soon. Kansas athletic director Jeff Long wasn’t brought in improve marketing for volleyball. He was hired as a fresh pair of eyes on the football program. Not surprisingly, Long fired football coach Dave Beaty on Sunday, four games from the end of the season.
Like other ADs, Long has to clear the decks and get a new staff in place rather quickly. Assume, then, the new Kansas coach will be hired significantly before that Dec. 19 date. As in all searches, just remember that nothing will happen until Jimmy Sexton says so. College football’s super agent is likely already behind the scenes pushing clients for Maryland and Kansas.
There seem to be three levels for the Kansas search — current head coaches, former head coaches now unemployed and assistants. Considering Beaty was a receivers coach at Texas A&M (and never a coordinator), look for Long to pursue someone with way more experience. “Our search,” Long tweeted, “will find an experienced head coach.”
If the match is mutual, look for the new guy to have the leverage for a six- or seven-year contract. (Five years is standard.) There is such a big mess to clean up at Kansas that it’s going to take time.
In the high-scoring Big 12 it would be logical to assume the new coach will have offensive leanings.
You will not find the names of Troy Calhoun, Bret Bielema and Seth Littrell on this list. Bielema coached with Long at Arkansas, but sources close to the coach indicated this summer that he would not be interested. Kansas is probably a little bit below what Littrell is looking for now. You can read about him here. Last I talked to Calhoun, he was completely happy at Air Force. The job is more of a vocation. If Calhoun was going to take the leap at this point in his career (he’s 52), he’d probably aim higher.
Kansas mega-booster David Booth is thought to be on board with funding, meaning Kansas would be inclined to pay for the right coach. But that’s the issue. Who is the right coach? There are plenty of guys who’d want the job, but only a handful who can do the job. The list is even smaller of guys who would stay if they turned Kansas around.
There will be another group who will try to get their names involved in the process in order to gain leverage for a raise/extension in their current job. There always is. The key for Long is to find a guy to bring stability to a program so bad it is damaging the overall brand.
1. Les Miles, actor, former coach: His connections are too obvious to ignore. He and Long worked together at Michigan as assistant coach and associate AD, respectively, from 1988-94. Miles has plenty of Big 12 experience having coached Oklahoma State from 2001-04. He would bring immediate credibility as a coach, recruiter and face of the program with no NCAA baggage. Miles, who turns 65 on Saturday, is interested, but there has been no contact between he and Long.
2. Dave Doeren, NC State coach: Doeren came close to getting Tennessee, then came back got the Wolfpack out to a 6-0 start. Probably the biggest reason he’d leave a better program is the cement ceiling known as Clemson. Doeren competes in the same division, yjr ACC Atlantic. Doeren would probably get a nice pay boost at Kansas, but how long would it take to turn around? He was a former KU assistant under Mark Mangino.
3. Neal Brown, Troy coach: Brown has experience as an offensive coordinator in the SEC and Big 12. You know him most for winning at LSU last year. At the age of 38, Brown already has won a Sun Belt title and may be headed for another this season.
4. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State coach: Satterfield is likely to run up on every short list for every job this silly season. The 45-year-old has won a pair of Sun Belt titles. Satterfield led the Mountaineers to three FCS national championships. He is known for his offensive schemes.
5. Jason Candle, Toledo coach: If Kansas is thinking about hiring the MAC’s hottest coach, well it’s been done before. Remember Glen Mason? Candle, 38, won the MAC last year. If he doesn’t get hired at Kansas, he’ll remain on a lot of folks’ short lists.
6. Mike Locksley, Alabama offensive coordinator: Locksley is one of the season’s best stories. Left on the scrap heap after jobs at New Mexico and Maryland, Locksley has thrived as a play-caller under Nick Saban, especially now with Tua Tagovailoa. Kansas might be interested, but would Locksley? Coming off possible back-to-back national championships, he could do better than KU. Locksley had personnel issues at New Mexico, but it is assumed all it would take is one phone call from Saban to the get the process rolling.
7. Jeff Monken, Army coach: Army officials are extremely concerned about losing Monken, who has turned the program around. The Black Knights are three wins away from posting back-to-back 10-win seasons. Monken is an option guru. If Long wants throw a real curveball, he could introduce the option to the Big 12. There has been no contact between Army and Kansas.
8. Jedd Fisch, Rams offensive analyst: Jim Harbaugh’s former quarterback coach would be a steal. Fisch’s representatives are in the process of pushing him as a branch to the coaching trees of Harbaugh, Sean McVay and Pete Carroll. Fisch has a handsome offensive resume. Long has already said he’s looking for head coaching experience, so this may be a longshot.
9. Willie Fritz, Tulane coach: A local product from the Kansas City area, Fritz has been successful at the Division II and FCS levels. He has yet to post a winning season at Tulane in three years.
10. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan coach: Let’s just say Eastern Michigan was the Kansas of the MAC. While Creighton has posted just one winning season in five at EMU, he has beaten Rutgers and Purdue from the Big Ten in the last two seasons. A 19-39 FBS record might be a tough sell.
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