Here it is, what you've all been waiting for. According to all the sources we were able to gather, the three men you find below are the most likely to lead your Kansas Jayhawk football squad for the foreseeable future (or at least the next two years, amirite Charlie and Turner?).
3. Jim Harbaugh 8%
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Yes, Harbaugh is a legitimate candidate for the job at Kansas. Don't ask how we know, just trust me. IF - capital IF - he is available, there is no doubt that Kansas should be (and is) interested.
There are four issues that I've come up with that hinder attempt at Harbaugh. Assuming he doesn't return to the 49ers, he could (1) take another NFL job (most likely) or (2) go to Ann Arbor and head up the Michigan program (next most likely). Kansas probably comes in third behind these other two options. We know he has family ties here, and we also know that he has reciprocated interest in the Kansas job.
And here's the third issue - (3) he would undoubtedly command a high salary - probably higher than Charlie Weis' $2.5 million per year. Harbaugh currently pulls in $5 million per year at SF. For comparisons sake, in 2013, Nick Saban rakes in $5.55M, Mack Brown made $5.4M, Bret Bielema $5.16M, Bob Stoops $4.77M, Urban Meyer $4.61M, Les Miles $4.46M, Brady Hoke $4.15M, and Kirk Ferentz $3.99M.
Should Kansas pay another coach $4-5+M per year? Can they afford it? I say "another coach" because Bill Self already makes $5M (trailing only Mike Krzyzewski at $7.2M and John Calipari at $5.4M). (All salaries from businessinsiders.com - links to Football Coaches and Basketball Coaches.) There's no doubt in my mind that these coaches are worth every penny they get paid, especially considering the amount of money they directly and indirectly bring into their universities.
Finally, there's the issue of timing (4). Depending on how long the 49ers play, when would Harbaugh be able to step foot in Lawrence? If the Niners don't make the playoffs, his last game would be Dec 28. If they make the Super Bowl, his last game would be Feb 1. National Signing Day is Feb 4.
One thing to not worry about is his qualifications, so I'll only spend a short paragraph on those. Harbaugh was a 3-year starter at Michigan under Bo Schembechler. Afterward, he played in the NFL from 1987-2001. His coaching resume includes the Oakland Raiders (2002-03, QBs), University of San Diego (2004-06, HC), Stanford (2007-10, HC), and the afore mentioned 49ers (2011-present, HC).
If Kansas can get him, I say go for it. He won at San Diego and turned around Stanford, a program that was in bad shape when he got to it.
Sheahon, just give him a blank check and tell him to write down a number.
2. Clint Bowen 25%
Bowen, as we all know, is a Jayhawk through and through. He played high school ball at Lawrence High and played college ball under Glen Mason in Lawrence. He has spent all but two years of his coaching career at Kansas in some capacity. The two years he wasn't a Kansas coach were the two years Turner Gill was busy dismantling what Mark Mangino had built. Bowen has coached both sides of the ball as an assistant, but has spent the last 10 years coaching defense or as a defensive coordinator.
We know if it were up to the players, Bowen would be the runaway choice for the job. It's no doubt a job he wants as well. He would undoubtedly not use Kansas as leverage for a pay raise or as a stepping stone to "bigger and better" things. He would probably come at a lesser price than most of the candidates we've mentioned, but he obviously shouldn't be taken advantage of. A contract of $1-1.5M with incentives would be fair, I think.
Despite how well we know him, questions still surround Bowen, such as: Can he recruit? Will he remain Defensive Coordinator? He obviously doesn't want to be anywhere else, and I'm sure that will show when he talks to recruits. If he could get someone to come in and let them be in complete control of the offense (Bob Stitt please), I might be able to fully get behind Bowen as HC.
1. Ed Warinner 37%
From all sources we can gather, if Harbaugh is not available, the most likely person to get the head job over Clint Bowen would be Ed Warinner. Warinner is currently the Co-Offensive coordinator and O-Line coach at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
Warinner was a football and baseball letterman at Mount Union from 1979-83. He has coached at Akron (1984), Michigan State (1985-86), Army (1987-99), Air Force (2000-02), Kansas (2003-04, 2007-09), Illinois (2005-06), Notre Dame (2010-11), and now Ohio State (2012-present). In his career, Warinner has worked with four offenses that have led the nation in rushing.
Warinner seems to fit the bill perfectly for what Zenger has publicly stated that he is looking for. He's been at Kansas before - he knows what it takes to win here. Warinner is an extremely highly regarded offensive line coach, drawing praise everywhere he has gone. He's no slouch off the field either, as he was recently named a 2014 Rivals Top 25 recruiter.
Interestingly, there's no Wikipedia page on Ed Warinner. Surely that will change if - when - he gets a head coaching job. Will that job be Kansas?
I personally feel that any one of these three guys could do the job. It's our opinion that Bowen is third on the "wish list" but second on the "most likely" list, which is what we've attempted to cobble together the past few days.
Ergo, I give you the finalized percentage wheel:
5% - Outside the Top 10
5% - Frost/Morris/Venables/Leavitt
5% - Pat Narduzzi
7.5% - David Beatty
7.5% - Tim Beck
8% - Jim Harbaugh
25% - Clint Bowen
37% - Ed Warinner
There's still a lot of time to wait. It will be at least 2-3 weeks until the search really picks up steam when interviews are able to take place. KU's last football game is on Nov 29. Will Zenger wait and take his chances on landing Harbaugh? If he does, will he miss out on Warinner or some of the other candidates? It's full of unknowns and Zenger likes to keep things close to the vest, but we will do our best to keep you apprised of what we know.
Check out the rest of our countdown:
Candidates 1-3 (Current selection)