Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who will it be?

Alright, this may not be the most ethical thing to do given that Mark Mangino has not yet been fired at the University of Kansas. But, show of hands, is there anyone out there that thinks he will survive this internal investigation coupled with a disappointing 2009 season? No, I didn’t think so…

So, here are who we consider to be the leading candidates, in order, for what will soon be an open job at KU.

- Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Sumlin has Big 12 experience, directed Oklahoma’s 44 point per game offense in 2007, beat Oklahoma State (there) and Texas Tech this year, and has led the Cougars to a 10-2 record along with a Conference USA West Division title. He knows how to recruit Texas and he’s a minority hire for a school needing some positive publicity.

- Larry Fedora, Southern Mississippi: In 1988, Glen Mason was hired at Kansas after then Athletic Director Bob Frederick liked what he saw of Mason’s Kent State team when they played in Lawrence. The same scenario may repeat itself given that Fedora’s Southern Miss team played KU to within a touchdown this season. Fedora has been at Southern Miss for two seasons. Like Sumlin, he has ties to the Big 12 given his Texas high school experience (Garland H.S.) and past experience on the staff at Oklahoma State.

- Skip Holtz, East Carolina: Yep, it’s that Holtz—Lou’s son. Holtz has been at East Carolina since leaving the staff at South Carolina in 2005. Prior to that Holtz was at Connecticut where he was hired by, you guessed it, Lew Perkins—Kansas’ current Athletic Director. He has a 62-45 overall coaching record and has guided teams to three bowl game appearances.

- Nolan Cromwell, Texas A&M: The Ransom Rambler would make older KU alumni happy—for many of us, Cromwell remains perhaps the greatest multi-sport athlete ever at Mt. Oread. And, his name is on the Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Yet, is this an “easy” hire versus a hire which will take the program to the next level? Cromwell’s offense at A&M was very successful this year but he’s only coached in the college ranks for two years—the jury is likely out as to how well he can recruit, build a staff, etc.

- Randy Edsall, Connecticut: We know Edsall has connections to Perkins, just like Holtz. That’s why his name is here. Other than that, I’m not sure there’s much about Edsall that would excite the Kansas faithful. He’s been head coach at UConn since 1998 and successfully led the Huskies from Division 1-AA to 1-A. His connections are in the Northeast which is far away from Texas and Oklahoma—states where any successful Big 12 coach needs to recruit. Edsall’s name has surfaced as a possibility for the open job at Notre Dame.

- Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Malzahn is the offensive coordinator at Auburn and is the guy most credit with inventing the “wildcat” formation, when he was OC at Arkansas. He graduated from high school in Arkansas and has coached there and in Tulsa, so he knows Big 12 country. Malzahn was on the staff of Houston Nutt in Fayetteville and is rumored to have been involved in Nutt’s ugly departure from Arkansas.

- Turner Gill, Buffalo: Gill, another minority candidate, had one very good year but that’s been about it at Buffalo. He’s well thought of by many and loved by those who wear Cornhusker red. I’ve heard that his daughter attends the University of Kansas but do not know this for sure. Question - Would Gill come back to coach a team, other than Nebraska, in the Big 12 North?

Is this it? Of course not—there are certainly names we don’t know or haven’t mentioned here. Would I like to go after Gary Patterson at TCU? You bet—but the administration there is moving swiftly to re-do his contract. Would a guy like Phillip Fulmer want to get back into the game? Maybe—we know he’d be paid well at Kansas and would have access to brand-spanking new, shiny facilities.

Whoever the pick, the criteria have to be as follows:

- Recapture and sustain momentum which seemed to be building in 2007-2008.

- Recruit, recruit, recruit—and do a better job of attracting more four-star talent to Lawrence. Protect in-state talent from out-of-state poachers.

- Rebuild Jayhawk Nation support in the football program, including restoring faith in the vision of the Gridiron Club. (In other words, get alums to open/re-open their pocket books for contributions.)

- Not allow Kansas State, under Bill Snyder, or Iowa State to overtake you in the Big 12 North.

- Equal Mangino’s record against Missouri (.500.)

In addition, and this is very important, the new coach must hire a proven, good defensive coordinator. The majority of the names on the list above have made their bones on the offensive side of the ball. In order to sustain excellence, a stout defense is needed to thwart the spread offenses which have become de rigueur in the college game.

Who’ll be the new coach at Kansas? My guess is we’ll know by the middle of next week. And, I'll be surprised if it's not one of the names on the above list.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I'd like to see the Ransom Rambler for all the "feel good" reasons you mention, I think Kevin Sumlin is the smart pick. His Big 12 South experience as an assistant, his success at Houston as a head coach and his familiarity with recruiting in Texas and OK really stand out.