Strength and Conditioning addressed in the interim
Shortly after it was announced Sunday that Turner Gill had been removed as the head football coach at the University of Kansas, word began to spread that the strength and conditioning staff had been relieved of their duties as well.
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell is currently serving as the captain of the football program in the interim, and Phog.net confirmed Monday with Kansas Athletics that S&C is under new leadership as well - if only temporarily.
Andrea Hudy, assistant athletic director for sport performance, will add the football team to her list of responsibilities until a new strength staff is in place.
Hudy is renowned for her work with the men's basketball program, and widely regarded as one of the best in the business of S&C.
As for the rest of Gill's staff, fans should expect word to begin leaking out regarding their fates soon. The latest rumors indicate at least a couple of individuals will likely be recommended for retention.
The best bets? Mitchell - who also serves as recruiting coordinator - wide receivers coach David Beaty, and potentially offensive line coach J.B. Grimes.
Another name for the list
As one might expect, the rumor mill is currently working overtime around Kansas football. As every media outlet - and most fans - try to divine the contents of the theoretical list of candidates locked away in the brain of Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, names are added and removed at a dizzying pace.
Yesterday, Phog.net ran a breakdown of the candidates we feel most likely, based on a variety of information - some names we've heard from sources, others that made logical sense, and some we'd just plain like to see.
Go ahead and toss current SMU head coach June Jones on that list, for all the reasons listed above.
Here's the skinny on the offensive guru:
Current Position: Head Coach, Southern Methodist
Salary: $1.7 million annually (Source: USA Today)
History: The 58-year-old Jones broke into coaching in 1983 as the quarterbacks coach at the University of Hawaii - one of three collegiate programs for which he suited up during his own playing days. After one season in Honolulu, he spent the next three seasons at stops in the USFL and the CFL, before landing his first NFL job - the quarterbacks position with the Houston Oilers. From 1987-1996 he coached for the Oilers, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, and after a year break he spent a year with the San Diego Chargers in 1998.
In 1999 he was hired as the head coach at Hawaii, a position which he held until 1997. While at the helm of the Warriors, he compiled a 76-41 record and took the WAC program to a BCS appearance in 2007 - a loss to the Georgia Bulldogs - and a Top 20 ranking in both polls.
Jones left Hawaii to take over the rebuilding effort at SMU in 2008, signing an eye-opening 5-year contract worth almost $2 million per year. In his first season the Mustangs went 1-11, but have shown massive improvement since. In 2009, SMU went 8-5 and defeated Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, the program's first bowl game since the 1984 Aloha Bowl. Last season, they posted a 7-7 record (6-2 in Conference USA), falling to Army in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
Thus far in 2011, SMU is currently 7-5 and bowl-bound once again.
Why this works...
If it's experience and success as a head coach Zenger wants, Jones is the perfect fit. He's an innovative offensive mind who knows how to develop QBs, knows how to win with comparatively little talent and knows rebuilding jobs.
From a pure coaching perspective, there really aren't many negatives. The guy is a proven winner.
Why this might not be the best idea...
Right off the bat, one has to wonder what makes Kansas more obviously attractive to Jones than SMU.
BCS status? Sure.
Big-time conference affiliation? Okay.
Better facilities? Probably. We haven't really evaluated SMU's facilities, but KU's are pretty stinkin' good.
That's all well and good, but the truth is the situation he'd walk into at Kansas would be almost as tough a rebuilding job as the one he faced when he took over in Dallas. The Big 12 is brutal today - absolutely brutal - with the 10 team format, and is only going to get tougher with the addition of TCU and West Virginia as replacements for Texas A&M and Missouri.
Additionally, it's unlikely Kansas can offer him much more monetarily than he is currently making at Southern Methodist. Jones very nearly makes as much as Gill did during his brief tenure on Mount Oread. This is just an assumption, but somewhere in the realm of $2 million is likely the ceiling.
Jones has a good thing going at SMU. He's well on his way to turning a derelict program into something respectable, and he's making a great deal of money in the process. It feels like it would take a pretty heavy sell job to uproot him again.
Leach still on top
And finally, the latest scuttlebutt is that the assumed frontrunner for the job, former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is still...well...the frontrunner.
Leach co-hosts a regular weekday radio show on SiriusXM with Jack Arute, and was reportedly asked about his interest in the Kansas position specifically Monday - though indications are he declined to offer much in the way of a comment.
A private plane heading from the Florida Keys - where Leach makes his home - to Lawrence Municipal Airport created a brief stir - and some great message boarding - last night. Ultimately, however, it was discovered Leach was not aboard - just a surprised family returning home from vacation.