Kansas football has been the worst program in the Power Five ranks for well over a decade now. The team made some headlines with its hire of national championship-winning coach Les Miles, but that tenure wound up being among the most catastrophic of them all, after revelations that have come to light in recent weeks.
Miles and Kansas parted ways this week, after multiple allegations of sexual harassment from his time at LSU came to light. LSU deserves plenty of criticism for what many have called a cover-up of the scandal, which dates back to 2013, but KU also clearly failed to do the due diligence necessary when making the hire. The scandal has also cost Kansas athletic director Jeff Long his job.
Mark Mangino was fired after the 2009 season, amid allegations of misconduct and abusive behavior towards his players and others in the KU community. The team went 5-7 that season, and was just two years removed from an Orange Bowl berth. In the 11 years since, Kansas has gone 21-108, with a 6-91 Big 12 record. The team has maxed out at three total wins in a season, and hasn’t won more than one Big 12 game in a season since 2008.
While Les Miles was a big-name hire at the time, it wasn’t a very forward-thinking one. Based on what college football insider Bruce Feldman has heard about the program’s preliminary list, it sounds like this next go-around will be much more interesting.
As rough as things are around KU football, the Jayhawks still will have their pick of the some of the most established G5 coaches–Jeff Monken, Lance Leipold, Skip Holtz, Willie Fritz and Chris Creighton, among those we hear likely to be in the mix. https://t.co/yhkhxtWq9Q
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 9, 2021
The closest thing to a retread we have on this list is Skip Holtz. His first go-around with a Power Five (formerly Power Six) job was at USF in the Big East. After going 8-5 in his first year, the team declined to 5-7 and then 3-9 in 2012, after which he was fired. He went 16-21 (5-16), but has bounced back at Louisiana Tech, with a 61-41 record in eight years, the last seven of which have resulted in bowl games.
Plenty have called for Kansas football to go against the grain in the Big 12 and run a system at odds with the air raid and spread systems that have become so ubiquitous. Jeff Monken and Willie Fritz would both do that. Monken has rejuvenated a long-struggling Army program, running the triple option as service academies tend to. It is unclear if he’d bring it to KU, but that would probably be part of the draw. Fritz’s background is more interesting. He coached the triple at Georgia Southern, another school known for the system, going 17-7 with a 14-2 Sun Belt record in two years, before taking over Tulane. He’s led the Green Wave to three straight bowl games, and has adapted the offense to incorporate more spread concepts as time has gone on. It is one of the more unique systems in college football right now.
Lance Leipold and Chris Creighton are two more very intriguing program-builders, pulling off very impressive results at hard jobs. Leipold made the jump from DIII power Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he won six national championships in eight years, and put up a 109-6 total record, to take over Buffalo. He is 37-33 in six seasons, with three straight bowl seasons. The Bulls went 6-1 (5-0) in 2020, and finished the year ranked No. 25 in both polls. Creighton took over one of the hardest jobs in all of FBS football, Eastern Michigan. It wasn’t long ago that there was a real debate at the school whether it should fold the program entirely due to a lack of success. After six successful years at FCS program Drake, he made a bowl in year three at EMU, and has led the team to two more in the last three seasons. Before Creighton’s tenure, the Eagles hadn’t reached a bowl game since 1987.