Kansas athletic director Travis Goff is officially taking the next step to find KU a permanent football coach.
Goff, in an email sent to KU Jayhawks’ donors late Thursday, said the program was “launching a national search” to hire a new coach. He said in his email that he alerted interim coach Emmett Jones, the assistant coaches and the players of this decision on Thursday.
“I have emphasized to that group how thankful I am for their leadership and commitment during this challenging time,” Goff wrote.
Jones will be a candidate for the permanent position, Goff said.
The announcement appears to end any thoughts that Goff — he was hired by KU to his new position on April 5 — would name Jones only as interim coach for the 2021 season. Jones took over the position following Les Miles’ mutual separation with the school on March 8.
Though this will be awkward timing for an outside coach to accept the position, KU does have some selling points. Miles loaded the roster with consecutive highly ranked recruiting classes from the high-school ranks his last two years; that not only added much-needed talent, but it also helped the program rebuild from a scholarship-player deficit it has faced for a long time.
The timing here remains tricky, however, given current rules. The NCAA just passed a measure allowing immediate eligibility waivers for first-time transfers this week, which means a new coaching hire could potentially lead to departures while also damaging the program’s recent roster-building efforts.
Goff, though, is mostly tasked with getting this hire right. KU’s football coach has been a revolving door of disappointment since Mark Mangino left in 2009, with Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, interim coach Clint Bowen, David Beaty and Les Miles combining for a 21-108 record since 2010. That includes a 6-91 mark in Big 12 play.
“A thorough national search will ensure we find the ideal fit to lead this program into the future and I am very confident we will do just that,” Goff told donors in his email. “We will take the time necessary to identify our next head coach and ask for your patience and support during this important chapter for Kansas Football.”
Some names to watch for KU’s opening could include Buffalo’s Lance Leipold, Army’s Jeff Monken and Tulane’s Willie Fritz.
Goff told donors that, since his arrival, he and his staff had taken a “diligent approach” to evaluating the program while looking for the best way to move forward.
“That has included observing, listening and asking questions regarding the characteristics and attributes that are needed in the next head football coach at the University of Kansas,” Goff wrote. “We have provided our football student-athletes the opportunity to express their desired characteristics and attributes and will do the same for other constituents, including our former football letterwinners and Ring of Honor inductees.”
During his introductory press conference last week, Goff spoke only in vague terms about the football coaching position, refusing to give a timeline for a decision while saying he was coming in “open-minded.”
“It would not be doing the right thing for the University of Kansas for me to have arrived yesterday with putting (my) head down and (saying) ‘This is our direction, and this is how we’re moving forward’ without the chance to spend time with Coach Jones and his staff and observe,” Goff said on April 7. “And I’ve got to listen to the individuals who know a lot more than I do today about where Kansas football’s at.”