Current recruiting class responds
By now, Phog.net and Scout.com has had the opportunity to touch base with virtually every current member of the Kansas Class of 2012; the lone exception being Clarksville (TX) High athlete H.B. Rosser. And trust us, we're working on that one.
Thus far, the general consensus from those commits seems to be the adoption of a "wait and see" approach. Seth Russell, Bilal Marshall, Jordan Smith, Derek Keaton and Brian Beckmann all want to meet the new coaching staff - whenever they are announced - before making any decisions, and as of now all remain committed to Kansas.
Washington (D.C.) Woodson High defensive end De'Jon Wilson is the lone decommitment. Though he gave his verbal to Kansas in August, schools continued to pursue him; none more strongly than Colorado. So when Turner Gill was let go at Kansas, it didn't take Wilson long to decide to make the switch to the Buffaloes. He cited a strong relationship to Colorado defensive line coach Kanavis McGhee as a strong motivating factor.
Buddy Wyatt is doing work
Though Gill is gone, the staffers who remain in Lawrence, Kan. - led by interim head coach Reggie Mitchell - are still furiously working the recruiting trail. Tuesday, those efforts paid off in a big way, when defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt reeled in stud JUCO defensive tackle Ty McKinney.
Playing for Athens (TX) Trinity Valley Community College, he racked up almost 30 tackles and a quartet of sacks during his sophomore campaign.
Wyatt visited McKinney on Tuesday, and the big DT gave his commitment in person - which says a lot about Wyatt's abilities as a recruiter, considering he is selling a program without a permanent leader in place.
To McKinney, however, his bond with Jayhawks assistant was so strong that as long as Wyatt is retained, he's Lawrence-bound. If he's let go, however, McKinney said he would meet the new staff before deciding whether or not to re-open his recruitment.
No decision regarding remaining Kansas staffers has yet been made public.
From the rumor mill...
Speculation and rumor comes from all over the place, but one piece of information to cross our ears recently seemed of particular interest.
Though Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger is playing his list of candidates understandably close to the vest, it's a safe assumption that Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Fedora ranks reasonably high. It makes sense, as Fedora is an eminently qualified candidate - possessing strong recruiting ties to the state of Texas, a successful history as an offensive coordinator at the D-1 level and now a strong (if brief) track record as a head coach.
Everyone is scrambling to identify the candidates in which Kansas has interest, which is absolutely important, but the process is a two-way street. Which candidates have strong interest in Kansas?
Well, according to one source – Fedora does. Not only was he thought to be a member of former athletic director Lew Perkins' short list two years ago when Gill was hired, but he's exceedingly familiar with the Big 12, having coached at both Baylor and Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks may have some competition for him, however, should they decide to turn their gaze to Hattiesburg, Miss. Though the Internet is currently abuzz with speculation that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is the frontrunner, yesterday the Scout.com Ole Miss affiliate - OleMissSpirit.com - reported Smart wasn't yet among the top candidates. According to the site, those spots belonged to Fedora, Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze and Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth.
The Leach Board
It's tough to find a program in search of a head coach at the moment that isn't mentioning Mike Leach as a candidate. And why not? He's clearly the hottest name available, an experienced head coach with a reputation as a winner.
Right now, it appears as if the Bruins and Sun Devils have candidates other than The Pirate at the top of their respective boards. Sources at DevilsDigest.com have the name most frequently mentioned with the position in Tempe, Ariz. being that of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
In Westwood, BruinReportOnline.com has Boise State head coach Chris Petersen as the leading candidate - a commonly-held opinion right now throughout the blogosphere, the Twitterverse and every other subsection of the Internet with even a passing interest in college football.
The one with open and obvious interest in Leach is Washington State. In fact, Cougars athletics director Bill Moos reportedly confirmed that interest directly today, at a press conference held to discuss the firing of now-former head coach Paul Wulff. Moos noted Leach was on his "short list" of candidates.
If it comes down to a choice between Washington State and Kansas, things would seem to come down in Kansas' favor. Not only are the facilities top-shelf in Lawrence, but the Jayhawks have a recent history of shelling out serious coin for coaches. Mark Mangino made north of $2 million annually by the end of his tenure, as did Gill.
By contrast, Wulff made just $600,050 annually per USA Today. It's hard to believe the Cougars administration would more than triple the salary of their next head coach in order to be competitive with what Leach could command on the open market.