In a move that was inevitable, Jeff Long and the University of Kansas brass took time away from the basketball season and the ongoing scandal therein, to fire David Beaty. While seemingly inevitable, the time of the move, for me, was odd. By firing Beaty as the Jayhawks prepared for the Sunflower Showdown, Kansas eliminated the possibility of Beaty being able to save his job by winning the Governor’s Cup, but, and this is a big but, left him on the sideline for the remainder of the season.
Jeff Long’s exhaustive list of possible interim coaches must have started and ended with Doug Meacham, whom Beaty fired on October 10 and so eliminated from possibility. Now, Kansas is left in the awkward position of a lame duck coach.
Regardless, here we are, and it’s time Jeff Long is now tasked at finding a replacement.
The first name to float to consideration has been Les Miles. The Jayhawks are trying to land the Mad Hatter to helm the program. Long and Miles go way back, and preliminary talks have reportedly taken place. And, Kansas fans are besides themselves with excitement.
One problem, it is the wrong move.
Granted, bringing in Les Miles has its positives. It moves the needle. And maybe that could bring a spark to recruiting, but when Kansas starts out just as lousy as it did this year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and…you get it, fans will find themselves in a stadium still 90 percent empty.
Les Miles also brings instant offensive identity, but one that doesn’t fit into the Big 12 all that well. His offensive strategy has been student-body right, student-body left since his days in Stillwater. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Pooka Williams, Jr. does not have the body to stand up to what a Les Miles offense would demand.
Another thing, until getting the LSU job he didn’t have much claim to fame outside of a couple of Bedlam wins. Let’s not forget why he was fired at LSU, for being mediocre and never taking the steps to move the program forward.
The plus for Miles is that he is a good recruiter (except at quarterback), and Kansas needs a lot of help there. The Jayhawk’s 2019 class has just one commit and ranks 174th in the country according to 247Sports. That means there’s over 40 Division II teams out-recruiting Kansas right now, and the early signing period is next month.
Miles can get linemen and running backs. He also recruited some great defensive players at LSU. However, he never could get a great quarterback, and that might be a problem in the Big 12. And then there is the fact that LSU is also a premier football school in a talent-rich area. How many kids dream of growing up to play football as a Jayhawk? Not many. So, while Miles could recruit at LSU, there’s no guarantee that that success would transfer to Kansas.
Finally, if Miles found success at Kansas, how long do you think the school could hold onto him?
What Kansas needs is a reality check.
Kansas is a basketball school in the middle of football country, it is consistently out recruited and it does not have the facilities or stadium to match any of the other schools in the conference.
This leaves two options to the Jayhawks of whom they should hire.
If Jeff Long and the Jayhawk fan base want to stay with the spread offense (they should), and bring in a program builder, they need to go all in on Seth Littrell. Give him an ironclad 5-year contract and pay the coordinators. Littrell brings in great bonafides, and knows how to recruit Texas (the lifeblood of Big 12 programs).
Now, Littrell is going to have the same handicap that has plagued Beaty, and that is a lack of a legitimate Big 12 caliber quarterback on the roster. Maybe he could find one within his first recruiting class? After all, Texas Tech seems to be able to roll out some new phenomenal freshman QB that is better than almost everybody else in the conference every year. Maybe Littrell could do the same.
And, barring Tom Herman being sucked into the Zach Smith scandal, there is stability at the flagship Texas programs. Those programs would probably be the only ones Littrell would be interested in long-term. But, if Littrell starts to have success at Kansas, every major P5 program looking for a new coach will be beating a path.
Jeff Monken is the only candidate that truly embraces what Kansas is, a basketball school, a school with recruiting disadvantages in both facilities and population, a school where academics come before sports. Monken runs the flexbone, a triple-option under-center offense. And, one that took Oklahoma to the edge this very year.
Monken has built Army back up to where it has not been since Roger Staubach was leading the Cadets. After a few years to get players to fit his scheme, Kansas could realistically expect five to nine wins a year. Plus, guess what a lot of little high schools in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma? Under-center option offenses. All those schools have players that are simply not recruited because they do not fit a colleges scheme. This is why Paul Johnson can easily find players every single year.
After playing six schools running some sort of version of the Air Raid Spread, teams will have a hard time adjusting to the triple-option. Basically, by going after Jeff Monken, Kansas can make itself the Big 12 version of Georgia Tech. In other words, a school that might not be winning the conference every year, but is at least going to a bowl game and not having winless seasons…or losing to FCS schools.
Finally, who is going to take him away? The only Power Five school that might, might come knocking is Georgia Tech when Paul Johnson retires. And, that is only if Georgia Tech wants to continue running the triple-option from under-center. So, realistically, the chances of Monken leaving for a “better” job are slim to none.
What this all means is that Kansas should hire Jeff Monken. He is the best candidate to match Kansas few strengths while minimizing the Jayhawk’s weaknesses.