Standard Intro: As requested by the commentariat, I’ve put together a list of most of the potential head coaching candidates that we discussed here at RCT during the offseason. You can find the links to those articles here, and here is the first post and explanation for why so-and-so is or isn’t on the list.
You’ve probably seen list after list by now, from KU beat writers and from national media. But only RCT has been doing this all season long, and today, we’ve got the most comprehensive list of candidates for the now-open Kansas football head coaching position.
I’ve added a few names since last week. I’ll be absolutely floored (and extremely disappointed for a number of reasons) if the next Kansas head coach is NOT on this list.
First, the list, then, a breakdown.
Once again, in alphabetical order:
Potential HC Candidates List
|Major Applewhite||40||HC||Houston||1.75 M||2.1 M||7-2||L @ SMU 45-31|
|Tim Beck||52||OC||Texas||800 K||Unk||6-3||L vs WVU 42-41|
|Brian Bohannon||47||HC||Kennesaw State||241 K||Unk||8-1||W vs Camp 49-0|
|Craig Bohl||60||HC||Wyoming||1.4 M||8 M||4-6||W vs SJSU 24-9|
|Clint Bowen||46||DC||Kansas||500 K||Unk||3-6||L vs ISU 27-3|
|Neal Brown||38||HC||Troy||810 K||2.9 M||7-2||W vs ULL 26-16|
|Troy Calhoun||51||HC||Air Force||885 K||Unk||3-6||L @ Army 17-14|
|Matt Canada||46||IHC||Maryland||650 K||225 K||5-4||L vs MSU 24-3|
|Jason Candle||38||HC||Toledo||1.1 M||3.5 M||5-4||W vs BALL 45-13|
|Chris Creighton||49||HC||Eastern Michigan||460 K||950 K||5-5||W vs CMU 17-7|
|Dave Doeren||46||HC||NC State||3 M||6.1 M||6-2||W vs FSU 47-28|
|Mike Elko||41||DC||Texas A&M||1.8 M||Unk||5-4||L @ AUB 28-24|
|Willie Fritz||58||HC||Tulane||1.6 M||Unk||4-5||W @ USF 41-15|
|Doc Holliday||61||HC||Marshall||760 K||1.9 M||5-3||L @ USM 26-24|
|Lane Kiffin||43||HC||Florida Atlantic||1 M||2.8 M||4-5||W @ FIU 49-14|
|Chris Klieman||50||HC||North Dakota St||300 K||150 K||9-0||W vs YSU 17-7|
|Mike Leach||57||HC||Washington St||3.5 M||2.2 M||8-1||W vs Cal 19-13|
|Jim Leavitt||61||DC||Oregon||1.7 M||500 K||5-3||Bye|
|Lance Leipold||54||HC||Buffalo||455 K||1 M||8-1||W vs Miami 51-42|
|Jim Leonhard||35||DC||Wisconsin||600 K||Unk||6-3||W vs RUT 31-17|
|Seth Littrell||40||HC||North Texas||1.4 M||4.4 M||7-2||Bye|
|Jeff Monken||51||HC||Army||930 K||Unk||7-2||W vs AF 17-14|
|Ken Niumatalolo||53||HC||Navy||2.1 M||Unk||2-7||L @ CIN 42-0|
|Mike Norvell||36||HC||Memphis||2.6 M||7.4 M||5-4||W @ ECU 59-41|
|Scott Satterfield||45||HC||Appalachian St||712 K||2.1 M||6-2||W vs CCU 23-7|
|Bob Stitt||54||OA||Oklahoma State||Unk||Unk||5-4||L @ BAY 35-31|
|Jeff Tedford||56||HC||Fresno St||1.5 M||5.4 M||7-1||Bye|
|Brent Venables||47||DC||Clemson||2.3 M||None||9-0||W vs LOU 77-16|
|Ed Warriner||57||OL||Michigan||525 K||None||8-1||W vs PSU 42-7|
|Matt Wells||45||HC||Utah State||900 K||2.1 M||8-1||W vs HAW 56-17|
|Frank Wilson||44||HC||UTSA||1.1 M||3.5 M||3-6||L @ UAB 52-3|
|Mike Yurcich||42||OC||Oklahoma State||800 K||Unk||5-4||L @ BAY 35-31|
The Current Favorite
Les Miles, 65, Unemployed
Everyone and their mom is Tweeting about Les Miles to Kansas right now; he’s the clear front-runner. I, however, have my concerns. For one, it’s a LOT easier to recruit at LSU. Plus, it seems to me like he had a lot of gameday issues at LSU, such as, couldn’t find a quarterback, questionable clock management, and etc. Sound like anyone you know? Miles will have been out of coaching for three years by the end of the 2018 season.
Other Likely Candidates
Major Applewhite, 40, HC, Houston
Applewhite has been an offensive coordinator since 2006, handling offenses at Rice, Alabama, and Texas before moving to Houston in 2015. He was named the head coach at Houston prior to the 2017 season following the departure of Tom Herman. The Cougars went 7-5 in Applewhite’s first season in 2017, and are on a collision course with UCF in the AAC title game this year.
Bret Bielema, 48, Undefined role, New England Patriots
If he were interested, he checks all of the boxes. He’s been successful at multiple P5 schools, Wisconsin and Arkansas, with a career record of 97-58. He got canned at Arkansas mostly because he wouldn’t play politics with the Arkansas boosters who think their program is on par with LSU (it’s not)
Neal Brown, 38, HC, Troy
Brown has been the head man at Troy since 2015, leading the Trojans to back-to-back 10+ win seasons and bowl wins over the past two years. Notably, Troy won at Nebraska this year, LSU in 2017, and lost by just 6 at Clemson during the Tigers’ national championship run in 2016.
Brown’s previous experience includes coordinating offenses at Troy, Texas Tech, and Kentucky.
Jason Candle, 38, HC, Toledo
Candle has never coached outside the state of Ohio, but could be a realistic candidate for Kansas after not missing a beat taking over for Matt Campbell at Toledo.
Todd Graham, 53, Unemployed
Graham won big at Tulsa, and parlayed that into a one-year stint at Pitt before bolting to Arizona State. A career 95-61 record is promising, but he seems like a guy what would jump at the first sign of a better offer.
Jeff Monken, 51, HC, Army
The triple-option whiz has Army rolling this year, nearly knocking off Oklahoma in Norman and sporting a 7-2 record so far. Reports indicate that Army is fearful of losing Monken this offseason, but there have been no reports of any communication between Kansas and Army.
Willie Fritz, 58, HC, Tulane
A Pitt State Gorilla, Fritz has been a head coach at Blinn CC (TX), Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern, and now Tulane. He has done nothing but win everywhere he’s gone, posting a career 163-84 head coaching record prior to the 2018 season.
Pipe Dream Candidates
Mike Leach, 57, HC, Washington State
While potentially in the affordable range for KU, Leach has Wazzu ranked in the top-10 this year and things are rolling in Pullman. Why in the world would he leave?
Jim Leavitt, 61, DC, Oregon
Dude has a clause in his contract that exempts his buyout if he is named the head coach at just one institution - Kansas State. While I respect what he’s done as a coach, there are still some concerns about the way his tenure at South Florida ended, and if he wants to be at K-State that badly, I’m not sure I want him in Lawrence.
Ken Niumatalolo, 53, HC, Navy
One of the best triple option coaches in the country, he’s recently turned down BYU (in 2015) and Arizona (in 2017) to stay at Navy. He currently makes $2M per year at Navy with an undisclosed buyout. Still, if I’m Jeff Long, I call him up and make him say no despite the down year that the Midshipmen are having.
Brent Venables, 47, DC, Clemson
Venables’ name has seemingly come up for every coaching search over the last 5-10 years. Either he’s happy as a coordinator, or he’s waiting for a specific position to open up - likely in Manhattan, KS.
Craig Bohl, 59, HC, Wyoming
Paying an $8M buyout for a coach who is struggling to win in year 5 at Wyoming doesn’t seem like a sound investment.
Dave Doeren, 46, HC, NC State
A home run/pipe dream candidate, Doeren just signed a new contract in April of 2018 with NC State that pays him approximately $3M per year with a hefty buyout - $6M for 2018.
Mike Norvell, 36, HC, Memphis
The highest-paid G5 coach has a buyout near $7.4M. I just can’t believe KU would pay that.
Jeff Tedford, 56, HC, Fresno State
The former Cal coach is now coaching at his alma mater, Tedford has a large buyout ($5.4M) and seems to be a west-coast lifer.
Seth Littrell, 40, HC, North Texas
Littrell is already a hot name at places who already have head coaches, like Kansas State, Texas Tech, and even Oklahoma, and may already have his sights set on someplace bigger than Kansas. That $4.4M buyout looms large as well.
Not Coming Here
Troy Calhoun, 51, HC, Air Force
A former Air Force quarterback, he appears to be quite happy at the academy. Indications are that Calhoun may be a lifer at Air Force, but if KU offers him $2M or more per year? That would be hard to turn down.
Doc Holliday , 61, HC, Marshall
A West Virginia native (and WVU alum), Holliday has been the head man at Marshall since 2010, going 61-42 over those eight seasons with three 10-win campaigns. Prior to Marshall, Holliday was an associate head coach at West Virginia, Florida, and NC State, as well as being a long-time West Virginia assistant coach from 1979-1999.
Jim Leonhard, 35, DC, Wisconsin
A Wisconsin native who walked on to the Badgers to become a starter, then went undrafted by the NFL before a 10-year pro career, Leonhard has only been coaching since 2016, and 2017 was his first year as a coordinator. He would reportedly need “something special” to get him to leave his alma mater.
Scott Satterfield, 45, HC, Appalachian State
I think he would be a solid hire for Kansas, but I also think he’s an App State lifer. A North Carolina native, Satterfield has spent all but three years of his football career at Appalachian State, playing there as a quarterback from 1991-95. He was the QB coach and primary play-caller from 2004-09, including in 2007 when App State went up to Michigan to upset the #5 Wolverines. After a year at Toledo and two years coordinating the offense at FIU, Satterfield returned to App State in 2012 as the offensive coordinator, and took over head coaching duties in 2013.
Bob Stoops, 58, Retired
I know he’s not on the list, but don’t even think about it.
Affordable but Not Splashy
Tim Beck, 52, OC, Texas
Beck was an assistant coach at Kansas previously, from 2005-07 under Mark Mangino. He has been coordinating offenses since 2011 at Nebraska, Ohio State, and now Texas, where he has been since 2017. However, KU AD Jeff Long specifically stated that he was looking for someone with head coaching experience, so that likely rules Tim Beck out.
Brian Bohannon, 47, HC, Kennesaw State
A triple-option disciple of Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, Bohannon is the first-ever head football coach at Kennesaw Sate. (You read that correctly.) They play in the FCS Big South Conference, and since beginning play in 2015, have yet to have a losing record, even making the FCS playoffs in 2017 and well on their way again in 2018.
Chris Creighton, 49, HC, Eastern Michigan
This hire might actually be better than you might think, and I for one would be a huge fan. A longtime coach at lower-division colleges, Creighton has done nothing but win everywhere he’s gone: Ottawa (KS) 32-9, Wabash (IN) 63-15, and Drake (IA) 42-22. Now at EMU, he has completely turned around what was quite probably the worst G5 job in D1, and not only has the Eagles competing for bowl bids, but knocking off Big 10 teams.
Mike Elko, 41, DC, Texas A&M
Elko has been a defensive coordinator since 2006, where at age 29 he was put in charge of Hofstra’s defense. Subsequent stops include Bowling Green, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. Since 2012, he has not had a defense ranked outside of the top 50 in total defense.
Matt Wells, 45, HC, Utah State
An Oklahoma native, Wells has posted a career 42-33 record at USU, making four bowl games. Prior to that he was an offensive coordinator at USU, and has previously coached quarterbacks at Navy and Louisville.
Mike Yurcich, 42, OC, Oklahoma State
Yurcich was a bit of an unknown hire when Mike Gundy pulled him from Shippensburg College, a D2 school in Pennsylvania. Since his arrival in Stillwater in 2013, OSU has finished in the top-20 in total offense every year except once.
Probably not in Consideration
Matt Canada, 46, OC and interim HC, Maryland
Canada has taken over for the disgraced DJ Durkin at Maryland, and the Terps have put in a solid year. Canada has been coordinating offenses since 2005, with stints at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, NC State, Pitt, LSU, and now Maryland.
Chris Klieman, 50, HC, North Dakota State
Yet another name that I’ve heard connected with K-State, Klieman is an Iowa native who actually spent a year in Lawrence coaching defensive backs (1997). He’s been in Fargo since 2011, spending two years as the defensive coordinator before taking over for the departed Craig Bohl in 2014. His record prior to the 2018 season is 54-6 with three national titles.
Lance Leipold, 54, HC, Buffalo
A six-time national champ at D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater, Leipold has turned around the Bulls in less than four years, and is on course for an appearance in the MAC title game this year. Prior to 2018, his career head coaching record is an astounding 122-29.
Bob Stitt, 54, Offensive Analyst, Oklahoma State
A Nebraska native, Stitt made a name for himself as an offensive innovator at D2 Colorado School of Mines, where he coached for 15 seasons, amassing a record of 108-62, including 83-44 in conference play. A three-year stint at Montana didn’t go as planned, although Stitt had a winning record in each season with the Grizzlies.
Ed Warriner, 57, OL, Michigan
Warriner’s shot at the KU job appears to have passed with the hirings of Gill and Weis, and I honestly haven’t even heard his name mentioned once yet.
Frank Wilson, 44, HC, UTSA
The highest paid coach in C-USA is not having a good season this year, however, by all accounts he is one of the best recruiters in college football. Wilson was the assistant head coach at LSU from 2010-2015 under Les Miles prior to taking over UTSA in 2016. He has been named Recruiter of the Year three times by three separate publications, all while at LSU: 2011 (Rivals), 2014 (NFL.com), and 2015 (Scout.com).
What was that I said earlier regarding Les Miles and recruiting?
Clint Bowen, 46, DC, Kansas
Um. No. Just no. Jeff Long isn’t going to have his first football hire at an institution in desperate need of change be an assistant that’s been there for 20 years.
Lane Kiffin, 43, HC, Florida Atlantic
After an 11-3 start at FAU, Kiffin is just 4-5 this season. Kansas football is enough of a joke right now that I’m not sure I want any more media attention than they’re already getting. Yahoo Sports polled 15 athletic directors as to whether or not they would consider hiring Lane Kiffin. They got two “Yes” votes, two “Maybe” votes, and 11 “No” votes.
My Personal List
I think Seth Littrell is the best name on this list, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that KU isn’t someplace he’d be interested in. That said, he’s still the number one candidate for me.
Seth Littrell, Neal Brown, Jeff Monken, Major Applewhite, Chris Creighton, Willie Fritz.
Obviously this means we’ll be giving Les Miles a 7-year deal, but, until the official announcement comes, we’ll all just have to sit and wait and see what happens.