Just a quick update here on the Kansas search.
First, I very much feel the need to preface this with the fact that I don't know Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger at all. This is one of those searches where I have said from the beginning that very little information would be out there and, although I wouldn't recommend this, it wouldn't shock me at all if the hire was a very unexpected one at the end (see "Weis, Charlie"). So far, the search community has been very quiet on this one.
With all of that said, here is what I've heard when speaking with coaches about the job. First, the belief is that the job is not a bad one. The facilities are better than you think. The support from the administration is there, and the fan base is aching to have a team they can get behind. Coaches believe this is a place where you can win. "You might not win ten every year; but if you are competitive in the conference and have a few great years, you might just find that you love this place," a coach told me.
Taking a look at Mangino's years at the helm - he won two, six, four, seven, six, 12, eight and five. Clearly the 2007 year where they won 12 was a very special year for Kansas football, but that seems like a pretty attainable model. Tough first season as you retool the roster. Then over the next four years they averaged six wins and were increasingly competitive. Then, "it" happened. The roster was finally right, they largely stayed healthy, the schedule broke the right way and they played great football. This can happen again is the belief from the coaches I've spoken with.
OK, so for specifics, I, um, well...don't have as much as you might like. I can tell you that there is, as one would expect, significant interest in the job from all directions. Word I got back was that interim head coach (defensive coordinator) Clint Bowen is a team player. He wants what is best for KU. He is hopeful to get the job himself; but should that not work out, the guys I've spoken with believe that nearly anyone hired would see Bowen as an asset and would offer him a position.
A number of coaches I've spoken tell me that if Zenger were to go the route of hiring an assistant from outside the staff, he truly couldn't do much better than David Beaty. Currently Texas A&M's receivers coach / recruiting coordinator, Beaty is extremely familiar with KU from his multiple prior stints there and knows the recruiting landscape in Texas, Kansas and Missouri about as well as anyone out there. Several guys told me he'd be a no-brainer finalist if they were doing the hiring.
Early on in the search, there was chatter in the search community about a few sitting head coaches having appeal to Kansas (namely Dave Doeren, Justin Fuente and Willie Fritz). I personally see the appeal of each of the three; but also understand that each of these guys would like to keep winning where they are. Doeren wants to prove that he was the right hire at N.C. State. Fuente has already proven to be an excellent hire at Memphis. I think he wants to continue to build upon his success there and perhaps at some point down the road there will be an opportunity he just can't say no to. Fritz is in his first season at the FBS level and is having a monster first season, but I know he feels he owes it to that administration who took a chance on him to build that program to the level he knows they can achieve.
I always come back to Zenger's prior hire of Charlie Weis and assume that he could try to pull another rabbit out of the hat and hire somebody no one else is thinking about. When I say that to coaches, I can literally hear them shaking their heads, "For his own sake, he better not. There are too many excellent obvious candidates to need to go for the hail mary. Just hire a great person and let him do his job," one coach said to me. Pretty good advice.
My guess is that this one will stay quiet until the hire is practically in place. Should anything become more clear we certainly will update you on The Scoop.