Not that this will come as a shock to anyone, but it is growing more and more evident that KU is not a premier football job. Not right now anyway. Sure, KU boasts a football complex and facilities that rank among the top 30-40 or so in the country. Fan support is there when the product on the field is competitive, but has also proven to be quite fickle when it is not. Lawrence is not the best place to recruit to, but it certainly isn’t the worst.
What KU has going for it is an Athletics Director that seems to understand football and thus has a good idea what it will take to compete and win at the University of Kansas. It takes someone with attention to detail, someone who has a competitive drive that makes him outwork and outcoach his peers, and someone who has a plan and is committed to it for the long haul. Yes, the Jayhawks need their own Bill Snyder.
All jokes aside about the beloved old man to the West, he just wins. He doesn’t recruit “athletes.” He recruits “football players.” He finds the guys that will work their butts off for him and molds them into winners. Mangino had many of those qualities, and while he certainly could compete with anyone in the country with Xs and Os, he could not keep up on the recruiting front. He failed to capitalize on Orange Bowl success while further struggling to maintain the faith of his assistant coaches.
KU needs a hardass, but also a teacher. KU needs a disciplinarian, but also a guy that commands the respect of his players. More than anything, though, KU needs a guy that understands KU. Someone that understands the kind of work it takes to turn around a program and legitimize it in a league that has its lot of proven winners.
I wish I had that answer. So many of the names floated – guys like Mike Leach, Gus Malzahn, and Larry Fedora – don’t necessarily meet this standard. I do not have faith that these guys would stick around at KU if they achieve early success. Then you get down the list to retreads like Phillip Fulmer, Glen Mason, or Houston Nutt. While I’m not worried about age of the coach, I just don’t know if these guys have much left in the tank.
The guys that seem most likely to live up to this standard include names like Dave Christensen, Sonny Dykes, and Mark Stoops. While I will support anyone Zenger brings in, I believe one of these names has the best chance of being the real grinder KU needs.
I do believe Zenger knows what kind of man it takes to run this program. I just hope like hell he finds our Bill Snyder (except without the cane….and the old man glasses…I kid, I kid). I guess we’ll find out.