Monday Football Notebook

It was a slow day for Kansas fans on the coaching search front, but a big day for a few other programs also on the hunt for a new head coach. What does Larry Fedora's emergence as the hottest candidate in the coaching ranks do to Jayhawks' hopes to land him? Have any new possibilities come forth? When will the madness end?

We wish we had definitive answers to all of those questions. Really, we do. But since Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has his search process locked up like that legendary bastion of security, Fort Knox, media covering the Jayhawks is left to piece together information gathered from outside the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Here's what we've been hearing today.

Fedora getting close?

Word today from Texas A&M insiders was that the current Southern Mississippi coach interviewed with Aggies officials in New York City for the better part of three hours - so one can assume they did more than just discuss the weather at this time of year in College Station, Texas.

However, North Carolina has been in hot pursuit of Fedora as well. And with reports from Chapel Hill, N.C. indicating that athletics director Bubba Cunningham had opted to move on from top-choice Chris Petersen, plugged-in Tar Heels suggested an offer had been made to Fedora - and the Twitterverse was abuzz with the talk as well.

He hasn't accepted yet, but depending how high he is on Texas A&M's list - most have him in the top two - and how close they are to deciding, it's not inconceivable Fedora could decide to make the call for North Carolina and thus set the dominoes toppling.

What does this mean for Kansas?

By now, Jayhawks fans should probably realize this isn't great news for KU where Fedora is concerned. It appears he has two choices he considers to be higher up the food chain than the Kansas job, the possibility of both falling through are somewhere between slim and none.

If it is North Carolina, however, the Jayhawks could still come up smelling roses. Reports surfaced during the weekend that Kansas had begun to show some level of interest in Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn - interest which was said to be reciprocated to at least some degree.

For those who are unfamiliar with Malzahn, he is regarded as one of the finest offensive minds in the game today. After revamping the Arkansas rushing attack via the Wildcat formation during his one year as OC in Fayetteville, Ark. in 2006, he spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Tulsa - where his unit ranked No. 1 in total offense nationally during both seasons.

In 2009 it was off to Auburn, where he took an offense ranked in the 90s the year prior and brought them in to the Top 20. Last season, with the assistance of Cam Newton, the Tigers ranked No. 3 nationally in total offense and won the BCS national championship.

Texas A&M has not reported interest in Malzahn, with their search focusing instead on Fedora, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Should Fedora opt for North Carolina, Malzahn - who is believed to occupy the spot immediately behind Fedora on the Tar Heels' list of candidates - would have a clear line to Kansas.

The potential issues? Well, they're mostly financial. Malzahn already makes more than $1 million annually in an exceedingly high-profile job. The raise Kansas could offer him won't be as substantial as it would be for many of its other candidates. Furthermore, there are the ever-present risks of hiring an individual without head coaching experience.

Once Fedora decides, we should get a good look at how legitimate Malzahn's interest in Kansas really is, and vice versa. Is it just a ploy to try and force UNC's hand with him? He interviewed with Cunningham last week, so the possibility exists.

So...what does the Kansas list look like?

Definitively? It's impossible to say. As always, educated guesses can be made, however, and we think it looks a little something like this – in no particular order.

Gus Malzahn - See above

Sonny Dykes - Louisiana Tech coach recently named WAC Coach of the Year. Rumor has it the Bulldogs are working on an extension to get him to stay in Shreveport, La.

Dirk Koetter - Former Boise State and Arizona State head coach, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Experienced great success at Boise and moderate success at Arizona State, but his tenure wasn't without its red flags - on and off the field. A tenuous Kansas tie does exist, as former Jayhawks assistant Brandon Blaney is on staff in Jacksonville.

Dave Christiansen - Current Wyoming head coach, former long-time Missouri offensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel. If this is happening, and there is interest, very few people know about it. A source in Laramie, Wyo. with knowledge of the program told Phog.net today there had been very little smoke. Christiansen has also been mentioned in conjunction with the Illinois job.

Mark Stoops - Current Florida State defensive coordinator. This one seems to have cooled.

Troy Calhoun - Current Air Force head coach. No real Big 12 ties but has had success at a very tough place to maintain it.

Dave Doeren - Probably the longest shot of everyone on this list, but he makes sense as a backup plan if nothing else. Current Northern Illinois head coach and former Kansas assistant.

Plus, and we realize this is maddening, there will always be the elephant in the room - the possibility of a candidate nobody sees coming - as long as Zenger maintains silence so successfully.

Stay tuned to Phog.net - particularly the Sports Bar, our Premium message board - for updates as we get them until the new coach is hired.


Phog.net Top Stories