Moving on with our series on potential coaching candidates and we come to a name that will be familiar to those who followed Mangino's early career at Kansas.
But before we get started something struck me yesterday with regards to the Leach news. In general it felt like the Kansas fanbase was disappointed. The thinking was that we missed or didn't do what needed to be done. I honestly don't think that is the case at all.
The way I look at this is that both sides have to want this. You can't force someone to be your coach even if you feel like you have a better situation. Leach picked Washington State over Kansas, that's what it boils down to and there probably wasn't a whole lot that Sheahon Zenger could have done differently.
On that note, what about someone who might really really want the Kansas job? Someone with local connections who has coached in Lawrence before and might see the Jayhawks and the Big 12 as an opportunity to make his mark at the next level? What about Dave Doeren?
First off, Doeren is a Kansas City native. He was raised in Shawnee Mission Kansas and played his high school ball at Bishop Miege. That's someone who has grown up near Kansas and knows the University of Kansas and might be looking at this opportunity from a broader perspective and not just as a football opportunity.
Following his high school playing days Doeren would go on to play his college ball in Des Moines Iowa for the Drake Bulldogs. Drake is where he would get his start in coaching joining the Bulldog staff one year after his graduation as the linebackers coach at the beginning of the 1995 season. In 1997 Doeren would take over defensive coordinator duties during his final season with Drake. The Bulldogs would finish that season with an 8-3 record and Doeren's defense would give up just 14 points per contest.
Following the 1997 season Doeren would head West and join the staff at USC as a graduate assistant. This of course was the Paul Hackett era for the Trojans and Doeren's two seasons with USC were mildly successful and he would depart with the ushering in of the Pete Carroll staff in 2000.
In 2000 and 2001 Doeren would spend time with the Montana Grizzlies as the linebacker coach. If you love playoff college football then you know who the Grizzlies are because they are always playing in meaningful December games in the snow. But hey, it's about the kids and we can't possibly ask BCS level schools to do that right? During two seasons with the Grizzlies Doeren would be part of one National title and the Grizzlies would go 28-3 overall.
That's when Mark Mangino and Kansas jump into the picture. Doeren was the hired on by Mark Mangino as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator when Mangino made the move to Kansas in 2002. Now here's something that's intriguing to me, Doeren was the RECRUITING coordinator. Now Kansas wasn't landing even three star talent at this stage in the game but Mangino got the reputation for finding diamonds in the rough and being an excellent evaluator of talent. Doeren was a big part of that and when Doeren would eventually leave Kansas in 2006 for Wisconsin, he would become a bit of a thorn in the Jayhawks side in and around his old stomping grounds.
Taking another glance at Doeren's Kansas career from 2002-2005 and you'll make quick note of the fact that Doeren was the linebackers coach for one of the last stout Kansas defenses that we've seen. Doeren coached NICK REID who was named Big 12 defensive player of the year and Doeren was on staff for a defense that finished 11th nationally in total defense. Oh to have that again.
Now something happened somewhere along the way and Doeren left for Wisconsin. A few years back during the Mangino investigation, Doeren was a lost staff member that many pointed to when building the case that Mangino was difficult to deal with. Of course Doeren did leave for a Big 10 defensive coordinator post at Wisconsin which is nothing to sneeze at.
While at Wisconsin, Doeren's defenses were widely respected and ranked in the upper tier of division one football. Wisconsin as a program would go 49-15 while Doeren was defensive coordinator and that obviously earns you a shot at a head coaching job.
Last year Doeren took over Northern Illinois who was coming off the best season in the schools history. Doeren was able to lead a Northern Illinois team that lost quite a bit to a 9-3 record. Now obviously Doeren and Northern Illinois walked into Lawrence and took a loss to Turner Gill while giving up a big chunk of offense to the Jayhawks, but it was his first year as a head coach and his first year with the program.
Looking back at our interview with the Northern Illinois SB Nation site I recall the mention that Doeren was a coach who seemed to have his team ready to play and a coach that was able to motivate. The way they described Doeren reminded me a bit of Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads.
Now Doeren probably doesn't fit the exact profile that Zenger outlined from the get go, but we're also in a unique situation this year with so many open jobs. Zenger might have to pick and choose rather than find a candidate that fits EVERY single item on his list.
When I look at Doeren I see another coach who is a bit of a risk. That might not seem all that appealing to many after Turner Gill, but Doeren has been a coordinator at a major level and he's seen what it takes to move things in the right direction at Kansas. I think those are two pretty big positives when looking at him as a candidate.