Kansas head coach Lance Leipold says he’s “embracing the challenge” at Kansas, and that includes a Zoom press conference at Big 12 Media Days on Thursday.
The Jayhawks’ travel plans took a detour on Thursday as their plane was not able to take off in Lawrence due to issues with the plane. So, Leipold appeared at Big 12 Media Days at 1 p.m. via Zoom with a virtual background provided by Academy Sports and Outdoors, the sponsors for Big 12 Media Days.
Leipold gave an opening statement, and then went to questions. Unfortunately, Leipold wasn’t able to hear the first question from Ken Capps of the Football Writers Association of America. After a short delay, Capps was able to ask his question and Leipold was able to answer. Kansas sports information had to tell him the question. So the Jayhawks were able to make the best of a not-so-optimal situation.
As for football, Leipold pointed toward his staff’s stability as a key to stabilizing the Jayhawks’ football program. Most of the new staff were either assistant coaches that worked for Leipold at both Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater, or are holdovers from Les Miles’ staff, which includes Emmett Jones, who was the interim head coach for a couple of months.
“Knowing the things we want in our program, we want a culture of competition,” Leipold said. “Players go out to compete. It’s unique getting the job without being here for spring practice. I was here for the spring game, but I didn’t get to watch more than five plays in a row without shakins someone’s hand. Watching the kids in person to evaluate them has not happened yet, so when it comes to the quarterbacks or any other options, that’s happening in August.”
Kansas is coming off an 0-9 campaign in 2020 that saw the program turn over both its head coach and its athletic director.
The Jayhawks and Les Miles parted ways in March after more details emerged about his interactions with female employees during his time as head coach at LSU. After a 2013 probe conducted by LSU, Miles was no longer allowed to have contact with female students. Miles also, reportedly, had to settle a harassment lawsuit with a former LSU student during that time.
After Miles left, athletic director Jeff Long — who hired Miles — was relieved of his duties. The Jayhawks hired Travis Goff, a Kansas graduate who was then the deputy athletic director at Northwestern, to replace Long. Goff hired Leipold, who was then the head coach at Buffalo University, to take over for Miles.
Leipold went 37-33 in six seasons as Buffalo coach, leading the Bulls to the MAC title game in 2018 and 2020 and picking up bowl wins each of the past two seasons. He helped lead the Bulls to the school’s first-ever national ranking in 2020. Prior to Buffalo, Leipold has won plenty across the Midwest. He won six Division IIII national titles as the head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he went 109-6 as a head coach.
At this point, a winning season would probably make the Kansas football faithful happy. The Jayhawks have not had a winning season since 2008, when they won eight games and reached the Insight Bowl. The Jayhawks reached the Orange Bowl the previous year, rising as high as No. 7 in the country and winning the Orange Bowl.
Since 2009, the Jayhawks have won 26 games and gone winless in two different seasons.
Leipold is the program’s seventh head coach, full-time or interim, since the 2009 season, which was Mark Mangino’s last in Lawrence.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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