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HCS Roundtable: Who Should Kansas Hire as Its Head Coach?

NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor

The Heartland College Sports staff went around the table to get everyone’s input as to who the Kansas Jayhawks should hire in the wake of the University firing David Beaty as their head coach. So, we hope Jeff Long is a regular HCS reader and he takes all our opinions to heart.

Derek Duke: So, after cutting down the list of names for this Kansas job, I have come up with five names that I think would be good fits for this job. Pete wanted just one but since I don’t listen, I am going to give you some extras. My first phone call as Jeff Long would be to Neal Brown down at Troy. He’s 38 years old and has been an offensive coordinator both at Texas Tech and Kentucky before taking the head coaching job at Troy. Since taking over, Neal is 32-15. He went 4-8 his first season as head coach and has gotten better each year posting double digit win seasons and may have another 10 plus win season this year. I think he would be a great fit at Kansas. Now, here are some other quick thoughts for candidates in my book if I am Jeff Long.

  1. Toledo HC Jason Candle- Has been sensational at Toledo and is straight from the Matt Campbell tree.
  2. Army HC Jeff Monken- Triple option at Kansas? Interesting idea.
  3. North Texas OC Graham Harrell- This former Texas Tech QB has posted two top 20 offenses so far as OC at North Texas and has Big 12 ties already.
  4. Alabama HC Nick Saban- Break out the Brinks truck or give him some of that Adidas money to come to Kansas. I say 20 million a year.

Matthew Postins: Chris Klieman, head coach, North Dakota State University

At some point FBS programs are going to start knocking seriously on Klieman’s door up in Fargo, North Dakota, so it might as well be Kansas. All Klieman has done since taking over as head coach before the 2014 season is go 63-6 (as of this week) and lead the Bison to three national championships (he has three other rings as a NDSU assistant coach). Among other things he mentored current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (Klieman was Wentz’s head coach for two seasons). He’s also a head coach with a defensive background, and lord knows the Jayhawks could use that (among other things). Three other things stand out. First, Klieman was a Kansas assistant coach for one year in 1997. Second, Klieman’s predecessor, Craig Bohl, left after the 2013 season for Wyoming and has transitioned nicely to FBS, leading the Cowboys to back-to-back 8-win seasons in 2016-17 (and can get the Cowboys to bowl eligibility for the third straight year with two more wins). Third, per Klieman’s current recruiting class is ranked No. 112 in Division 1 (FBS and FCS). That’s 60 spots ahead of where Kansas is ranked right now (No. 172) and ahead of 18 other FBS schools (including Wyoming). Recruiting is a huge deficit right now for the Jayhawks. Klieman can help mind that gap. Plus, he’s already recruiting the middle of the country, including Kansas and Nebraska, and that aids his transition.

The Jayhawks could turn to a Power 5 assistant or a Group of 5 head coach, and there are plenty of good candidates. But they’ve done both recently and, frankly, the results have been horrible. Why not give an opportunity to a proven winner at the FCS level who might be on the lookout for an opportunity at a Power 5 school? Kansas can certainly beat NDSU on money. He signed an extension in 2018 for two more years, but his base salary probably isn’t more than $350,000 (he started at $300,000 when he took the job). At this point the Jayhawks have nothing to lose, and Klieman is certainly FCS’s most likely head coach to make the leap to FBS in 2019.

Five others coaches I’d consider:

James Madison head coach Mike Houston: Led Dukes to FCS national title in 2016.

Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold: Led Wisconsin-Whitewater to six Division III national titles and has rebuilt the Bulls (8-1 so far this season).

Utah State head coach Matt Wells: Has led Aggies to eight straight wins since nearly upsetting Michigan State on opening weekend.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables: Probably a pipe dream, but he’s the best coordinator on the market. Plus he knows the Big 12.

Army West Point head coach Jeff Monken: What he’s done for the Black Knights is extraordinary. And did you see what they nearly did to Oklahoma in September?

Pete Mundo: I’d go all in on Les Miles. I don’t think this is the kind of job that one of the young up-and-comers is going to walk into a turn around. It’s not that easy. Any Group of 5 or FCS coach will be in over his head trying to get this thing turned around. It’s not your traditional rebuild. It’s going to take someone with power of personality to get some recruits who would not typically consider a place like Kansas. That person is Les Miles. I understand he will be 65 years old by the time the 2019 season comes around, but he can at least get Kansas into the living room of recruits who might not even answer the phone for some hot-shot FCS coach or coordinator at the Power 5 level. That’s worth something. The other factor here is that if any young coach comes to KU and even makes the program bowl eligible, he will be bolting for a bigger job, because there will be options. Les Miles’ age may actually benefit KU, because if he gets this thing on the right track, he’s not going to go anywhere in his late 60’s or 70 years old. No chance.

Cameron Brock:  Give me Jeff Monken. Kansas is a terrible team and is only going to become worse with its incoming recruiting class. What is the best way to take a less talented team and give it a chance? Shorten the game. Monken has perfected the triple option. At Georgia Southern, he took down defending national champion Appalachian State. He’s turned Army into a winning program. Speaking of, it’s harder to recruit to Army than Kansas because it’s one of the nation’s top schools and barely receives any funding for athletics because its a funded by the federal government. Another obstacle is that he has to tell players they will be signing a contract to serve in the military as soon as they graduate.

If this guy can win ten games at Army, he can at least take Kansas to a bowl game.

Dave Beall: If I’m Kansas I call Les Miles.  I don’t know if Miles wants to get back into coaching or not but if he does he may actually consider the Kansas job.  No blue blood program will hire him, he got to quirky towards the end of his LSU gig, but if he takes over a bad Jayhawk program and turns them around like he did when he took over a bad Oklahoma State program a bigger school might give him a shot. Oklahoma State was probably about as bad as Kansas is now when they hired Miles and he got the LSU job four years later by getting them to bowl games and beating OU and Bob Stoops twice. There’s no reason he couldn’t repeat that success in Lawrence. He’d be able to recruit decently, we all know he can coach, and his zany personality will fit right in the Big 12.  KU may be a basketball school but they just ponied up 300 million to redo the football stadium so maybe they’d pay the 5 million plus it would probably take to hire Miles. They’d have to understand he’s temporary, just there to lay the ground work for the next guy, but he would inject life into the program the day he signed the contract.

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