KU kicks off 'thorough national search' for next football head coach
LAWRENCE — Kansas football’s search for its next head coach has officially kicked off.
The Jayhawks on Thursday announced they have launched their hunt for their next leader on the gridiron, with new athletic director Travis Goff delivering that update in an email sent to Williams Fund donors. Goff indicated the athletic department will look far and wide — while considering at least one in-house candidate — in this process.
“A thorough national search will ensure we find the ideal fit to lead this program into the future,” Goff wrote, “and I am very confident we will do just that.”
Whoever lands the gig will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Embroiled in a decade-plus stretch of futility, KU has lost 115 of its last 136 games in a stretch that dates back to the 2009 campaign. The Jayhawks have had five full-time head coaches across that period, with the most recent individual to hold that position, Les Miles, agreeing on March 8 to a buyout of the final three years of his contract amid resurfaced allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from his tenure at LSU.
KU will enter its season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 4 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on a 13-game losing streak.
Goff, who at his introductory news conference last Wednesday didn’t commit to making a spring hire and in his Thursday letter didn’t reveal a timetable for this process, did write that KU has taken a “diligent approach” in its evaluation of where the football program currently stands. That effort, he continued, has identified “the best path forward.”
“That (process) included observing, listening and asking questions regarding the characteristics and attributes that are needed in the next head football coach at (KU),” wrote Goff, who started at KU last Tuesday after a nine-year stint as a deputy athletic director at Northwestern. “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.”
Interim head coach Emmett Jones, an important recruiter who spent the last two seasons at KU as a wide receivers coach and also served as passing game coordinator in 2020, will be included in the Jayhawks’ search, Goff revealed. The athletic director said he met with Jones, the rest of the coaching staff and the KU players on Thursday to inform them of his decision to immediately move forward with a search for a permanent head coach.
“I have emphasized to that group how thankful I am for their leadership and commitment during this challenging time,” Goff wrote. “Coach Jones has done an outstanding job in this interim role and will be a candidate in this process.”
While KU’s search may only now be getting officially underway, several frontrunners have already emerged for the vacancy. Those thought to be leading contenders include Army head coach Jeff Monken, Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold and Tulane head coach Willie Fritz.
“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,” wrote Goff, a KU grad. “I am grateful for your continued support of Kansas Athletics and our football program.”
KU's spring game is set for 6 p.m. May 1 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.