Yesterday, Jeff Long made the announcement that while David Beaty will lead the Jayhawks in their final three games of the season, that they'd be moving in a new direction at the conclusion of the season.
“After a thorough evaluation of the program, I believe that new leadership is necessary for our football team to move forward and compete at the highest level of the Big 12 Conference,” athletic director Jeff Long shared yesterday.
Long, the former Arkansas athletic director who has been on the job in Lawrence since early July, is now tasked with finding a head coach at a program that's had a hard time finding success the past few decades, making only four bowl appearances (all under Mark Magino - who went 3-1 in those appearances) dating back to 1996. After Mangino's dismissal back in 2009, Kansas has been led by Turner Gill 5-19 in two seasons), Charlie Weis (6-22 in just over two seasons), and Beaty who is 6-39 heading into the final weeks of his tenure.
At his press conference yesterday, Long noted that he will not use a search firm, but plans to use people to advise him as the process moves forward. He also noted a few things in particular that will be a high priority for him in the new leader of Kansas football - passion, commitment, and head coaching experience.
"It's not about age and years is about energy about passion it's about commitment. It's about eagerness to get out and turn the program. So I know this - I'm eager, and excited, and passionate, and I'll be looking for that same kind of leader of our football program."
As for head coaching experience, Long shared his belief that where Kansas currently sits among its fellow Big 12 schools, that it's going to be near impossible to learn on the job and have success.
"I'd like to have a someone with head coaching experience. These jobs are too big to learn on the job. And I'd like to be able to attract someone who's been a head coach."
"If we can't if we can't attract someone that has that level experience and then I will turn to coordinators that have maybe showing that promise of being a quality head coach."
As for a timeline, Long acknowledged that the process of hiring a head coach can take a few weeks, but being one of just two other head coaching openings at this point, with only Maryland also open at the Power 5 level, allows them to get a bit of a head start, and in front of things with many appealing candidates. Long noted that he's already heard from a number of interested individuals and their agents, and does not plan to comment any further on the search until they're introducing the new head coach.
FootballScoop has been hearing since Jeff Long got hired that he was expected to hire an experienced head coach. Undoubtedly many a coach reached out to Jeff when he was hired to congratulate him, and potentially include a reference to their interest should the job open.
Jeff was hired to help keep basketball a superpower and to find leadership that will help revive a program that simply hasn't been competitive for too long now. With the commitment from Long, the next coach has a shot. The facilities have been upgraded substantially and the indoor is almost complete. Money is not an issue. Plain & simple, KU Football needs new life, which comes from a new staff; but more importantly from new players. They need a staff that can recruit players who can win at KU.
As for candidates, the chatter the past few weeks has been that Les Miles is a true candidate here due to his longstanding relationship with Jeff Long. Willie Fritz has long been thought of as a potential candidate whenever the job opened. Chris Klieman at NDSU is a heck of a football coach. We could go on and on about who might be a fit; but at the end of the day reality is Jeff likley already knows who his man is; or potentially his top two or three.
We'll keep you posted on The Scoop as things play out; and see Long's full interview from yesterday on the opening below.