Hard to believe we're sitting back here just two short years after the hiring of Turner Gill. It's interesting to look back and reflect on how Mark Mangino departed the program, what we were all hoping for and expecting in a coaching candidate and then look at how things turned out.
There were some strong names on the list last time and all have moved along with their careers, some wildly successful and others taking difficult jobs of their own. We'll kick off the series this time, with a few repeats that will be mentioned and discussed just as they were last time. I'll borrow from my last series and update where needed and then we'll dive into new candidates.
For now, let's kick things off with Southern Mississippi head coach 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 49, 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. His ties to Texas high school football are certainly an attractive thing when looking at Fedora in terms of recruiting and would help provide some continuity in that respect as Texas will continue to be important as long as the Big 12 remains in tact.
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 the current Kansas staff.
After 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. 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. Solid experience at a big time program.
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 first two seasons at Southern Miss Fedora has compiled records of 7-6 and 7-5. We all remember Southern Miss coming into Lawrence in 2009 and had injuries not played such a factor in the season the Golden Eagles could have seen an even better record.
In 2010 Kansas returned the favor and went down to Hattiesburg for a game against Fedora where the Hawks would lose in Turner Gill's first season by a score of 31-16. This game actually encompassed quite a few of the mistakes and errors that would plague the Jayhawks throughout Gill's tenure but all in all it was a decent showing for Kansas and one of the last decent showings of 2010. Southern Miss would finish 2010 with an 8-5 record and a loss in their bowl game.
In 2011 Fedora finished 10-2 in the regular season winning the Eastern division of Conference USA. The wins and losses speak for themselves and there is consistency in terms of the product on the field during Fedora's stint at Southern Miss.
It's hard to say how serious Fedora is as a candidate at this point. It has been said by many that this will be his last at Southern Miss as the number of job openings and his track record are likely going to open quite a few doors for him around the country. One also has to wonder when Fedora would be available. Kansas doesn't have much time to waste considering this is the second coaching change in such a short time so if Fedora is insistent on remaining with Southern Miss through their bowl game it might be a deterrent. Then again, if you find the right guy you make it work.
Fedora brings an offensive skill set that is up there with the best. I believe his connections to Texas and the Big 12, as well as his current success give him a unique ability to recruit from the get go. 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. Again, Fedora is going to have options, Kansas is likely to be one of them but we'll have to see if that interest is mutual.