One name that popped onto the radar screen early on in the Kansas coaching search was that of Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Fedora. Since then all has been quiet on the Fedora front, but Fedora himself has expressed his interest in the position.
Fedora is another interesting name like that of Turner Gill or Kevin Sumlin in that he is a young charismatic guy that has up and comer written all over him. He's long been a solid recruiter, has ties to the Big 12 and more importantly he has strong ties to the football rich state of Texas, the merits of which are still being debated.
Fedora is a favorite of some for the position and the thought of a Fedora hire very much has the look and feel of a hire like Gill or Sumlin. These are not "homerun" names per se, but they could turn into great hires if they are able to take advantage of a good situation in Kansas. A program supporting football, investing in football and ready for a coach to take things to the next level.
Now, let's get to know Larry Fedora.
Larry Fedora was born in College Station Texas, home of the Texas A&M Aggies of college football fame in 1962. For those keeping score at home that makes Fedora 47, another young name with plenty of career left in him to provide stability to the right program.
Fedora's football career began at Austin College where he played wide receiver from 1981-1984 and after an absence during the '85 season Fedora returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant on the football staff.
His stint as a grad assistant lasted just one year before Fedora made the move to Garland High School in a head coaching capacity at one of the powerhouse schools in Texas High School Football. Garland High sound familiar? Current Jayhawk commit Jeremiah Edwards attends Garland as did current Jayhawk Corrigan Powell and recent former Jayhawks in Donte Bean and James McClinton. His ties to Texas high school football are likely one of THE most attractive things about Fedora in terms of recruiting and would no doubt be a big boost to Kansas' presence in the state.
After four seasons with Garland, Fedora returned to the college ranks taking a position with Baylor as their TE/RB/WR coach for six seasons. Caught up in a coaching change Fedora would eventually move on from Baylor but in the season where the coaching change occurred Fedora was instrumental along with Mike Gundy of OSU in retaining and landing a fairly solid class for the incoming coach of Baylor despite the school having not named a coach at the time. Similar situation to that of Beaty, Miller and Bowen right now.
From Baylor Fedora spent a two year stint at the US Air Force Academy as the passing game coordinator from '97-'98. The next move came with a promotion to offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State where again Fedora would only remain for two seasons. Now one thing I think that differs between Fedora's job hopping and that of Houston Nutt's is that Fedora seems to consistently be jumping at better opportunities because he has been successful. Houston Nutt sometimes gives the perception that he's "gettin while the gettin's good" if you will. Looking for the next big thing because the honeymoon is over so to speak. With Fedora that isn't really the case.
After MTSU Fedora's next jump was a big one as he served under Ron Zook at Florida as run game coordinator, passing game coordinator and eventually offensive coordinator for Zook's final season in '05. Very solid experience for any coach.
With Zook's departure, Fedora was once again looking for work and this time found it with an old colleague in Mike Gundy who was now coaching the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Big 12. Fedora was considered one of the top offensive strategists in his time with the Cowboys and was sought after by LSU and Alabama for top coordinator positions as well as several other lower level schools for head jobs. Fedora was one of the top paid assistants in the country during his tenure at OSU but eventually did make a move to a head spot with Southern Mississippi in 2008.
During his two seasons at Southern Miss Fedora has compiled records of 7-6 and 7-5. We all remember Southern Miss coming into Lawrence this year and had injuries not played such a factor in the season the Golden Eagles could have seen an even better record.
As I said Fedora seems to be a bit off the radar at the moment, but I personally would be pretty happy should Fedora get a look. I think he brings an offensive skill set that is up there with the best. I believe his connections to Texas and the Big 12 give him a unique ability to recruit from the get go. Truthfully he has already recruited better rated talent in his two seasons at Southern Miss than we have seen at Kansas recently which is interesting in itself. Furthermore Fedora was also able to improve a defense in Southern Miss that was struggling prior to his arrival and that is certainly an area of concern with the Jayhawks.
One last potential benefit, Fedora might be inclined to hang on to some of the key assistants at Kansas in fellow Garland HS coaching alum David Beaty, Bill Miller and Clint Bowen. Each of these guys are key in terms of Kansas recruiting this year and each is very good at what they do. I know feelings are mixed on Bowen, but he is a guy that has been very loyal to Kansas. He may have been a little out of his league calling the defense against some of the most prolific offenses in Big 12 history, but it definitely hurts your ability to coach when your boss(head coach) is yanking players left and right and making all the personnel decisions.
Getting back to Fedora, it remains to be seen if he'll see an interview on this one. Still, one would have to think if he's interested and Lew isn't able to reel in one of the "big fish", Fedora might be another good one to interview and throw into the mix. Kansas could certainly do a lot worse.