Bruce Feldman (Fox, The Athletic), Adam Rittenberg (ESPN), KUSports.com, and KU insiders Mike Vernon and Bryson Stricker are all reporting that KU football’s offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki, is leaving Lawrence for Penn State, one of the two universities that shouldn’t be allowed to play football anymore (the other is Baylor).
As of 9 PM Thursday night (Nov 30), KU has yet to confirm the reports, although they have announced the promotion of QB coach Jim Zebrowski to co-offensive coordinator. Zebrowski’s title has been updated at the bottom of KU’s roster page, where Kotelnicki’s name still appears.
(UPDATE 12/1: Kotelnicki’s name no longer appears on KU’s coaching roster.)
Kotelnicki has been with Leipold since 2012, all the way back to Wisconsin-Whitewater. So if this turns out to be accurate, it definitely puts a dent in Leipold’s famed coaching continuity. Meanwhile, Penn State head coach James Franklin has gone through six offensive coordinators in his nine seasons at Penn State, and from what I can tell, only two of them left voluntarily.
At the very least, it makes sense from a football perspective. Kansas has gone from 3.7 yards per play in 2020, #127 in FBS, to 7.0 yards per play in 2023, good for 8th in FBS. It’s quite simply a stunning turnaround, and it makes sense that other schools would be interested in what’s been going on in Lawrence over the last three seasons.
Oh and don’t forget - KU’s offense did that without the preseason conference player of the year for most of the season this year.
It’s undeniable that the loss of Kotelnicki would hurt. The only complaint I have is despite leading such a potent offense, this year Kansas ranks #115 in fourth down conversions, hitting at just a 35.3% clip. It was a little better (but not much) in 2022, with KU converting 47.4% of their fourth downs, good for 83rd nationally.
It will be interesting to see how well Leipold and the Jayhawks handle the loss of their long-time offensive coordinator.