Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who will KU eventually hire?

It's been over a week since Kansas' athletics director, Dr. Sheahon Zenger, hit the road to find the school's next football coach. Thus far, Zenger has yet to make a hire and has yet to tip his hand publicly as to who that might be.

Mike Leach's candidacy came and went with some speculating that an agreement was in place but unraveled around Leach's lawsuits with ESPN and Texas Tech, a sister Big 12 institution to KU.

Larry Fedora became the "it" coach, after Southern Mississippi walloped Houston, but he appears headed for North Carolina--a school where his southern recruiting contacts may be a better fit.

June Jones' name was floated about and he seemed headed to Tempe as head of Arizona State but that deal fell through. Will Jones, SMU's coach, get back in the mix at Kansas?

Let's break down those who are believed to be in consideration at Kansas as the clock continues to tick, and openings remain at Illinois, Penn State, UCLA and Texas A&M.

- Jones: Jones could qualify as a home run hire for Kansas given his consistent success and what he's done most recently at SMU. He also has the much-desired recruiting contacts in the Lone Star State. What may work against Zenger is Jones' agent--notoriously ruthless Leigh Steinberg.

- Gus Malzahn: If you believe Twitter, then you probably think that Malzahn's already been hired at KU. His offenses have been successful but he's not been in the head coaching seat since high school. There is speculation that all is not well with Gene Chizik's staff at Auburn which may make Malzahn hot for the job in Lawrence.

- Sonny Dykes: Dykes would seem to make a lot of sense as KU's next head man. He led Louisiana Tech to this year's WAC championship, has Texas high school recruiting ties, and knows Leach's spread offense. Dykes would fit the criteria for those who want a head coach to move to KU versus hiring a current D-1 coordinator.

- Paul Chryst: Reports out of Madison are that Chryst, the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, has interviewed with Zenger.

- Dirk Koetter: This former head coach (Boise State and Arizona State) and current offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars offers an interesting twist to the search--someone with NFL credentials. He also offers up an important decision for Zenger--does he hire someone with issues with his past employer (Arizona State) or try to stay above the potential criticism he'd likely receive?

- Mark Stoops: Over the weekend, Stoops' name seemed to be a hot one with those speculating on the KU hire. It's now seemed to have cooled off. Stoops coached with Zenger at Wyoming and has been the architect of Florida State's defensive turnaround.

So, who will Zenger hire? I think he'll likely come to terms with one of the above names. Forget about Phillip Fulmer and forget about the crazy Charlie Weis idea--KU's A.D. will make a choice from the Jones-Malzahn-Chryst-Koetter-Stoops fivesome. Whether he can get the deal done in order to introduce his new football man on Saturday, at the KU-Ohio State basketball game, is the challenge.

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