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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

s Gibbs have little to say about Kansas opening

November 29, 2001

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While names of prospective candidates to fill Kansas University's head football coaching vacancy continued to be bandied about Wednesday, prospective candidates remained noncommittal.

Oklahoma assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, Fresno State head coach Pat Hill and Louisiana State defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs who are believed to be strong candidates to fill the KU job all gave what amounted to "no comment" when contacted Wednesday.

"Let me say this to you," Mangino said, "my stance is I really am not going to discuss anything about any jobs at this point and time. I don't have any comment."

Mangino reportedly is among the four to six finalists for the KU post, which became available when Terry Allen was dismissed earlier this month. Other known finalists include Hill and KU interim head coach Tom Hayes.

Two other coaches mentioned to fill the void at KU, Nebraska quarterbacks coach Turner Gill and KSU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, reportedly no longer are options for the Jayhawks.

The Journal-World also has learned that a fourth finalist likely is "a defensive coordinator in college," according to one source. Rumored candidates who fit that description are Gibbs, Michigan State's Bill Miller and South Carolina's Charlie Strong.

"I'm just trying to get ready for Auburn," Gibbs told the Journal-World. "I really can't comment on that. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to say one way or the other. I'm just getting ready for this game. That's really my focus. You always look at opportunities, but opportunities have to come your way. In this business, that's the way things happen."

Other head coaches who have been mentioned are Western Michigan's Gary Darnell and South Florida's Jim Leavitt. Purdue offensive coordinator Jim Chaney also has expressed interest.

Mangino was a Kansas State assistant for eight seasons before joining the Sooners. While with the Wildcats, he filled such roles as assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and running game coordinator.

Being linked to head coaching openings is nothing new for the 45-year-old aide.

"I don't have any timetable for anything," Mangino said. "The situation is that every year at this time this goes on for me. Through experience I've learned to say I have no comment. That's all I can tell you right now."

Mangino wouldn't confirm or deny speaking with KU officials, only adding he "most certainly" wants to be a head coach some day.

Hill, on the other hand, already is a head coach, thanks to former boss and current KU athletics director Al Bohl.

"No, I haven't," Hill said about interviewing for the KU job. "I'm not interviewing for any jobs right now. I have to finish my season. We've still got a game left. I've made it very clear that Al Bohl is a close friend of mine. He gave me my first job. I think that would be a great job for whoever gets it. They'd be working for a good man.

"I'm not thinking about other jobs. Right now my main focus is on Fresno State."

Fresno State, which was highly ranked earlier this season before losing back-to-back games to Boise State and Hawaii, plays host to Utah State its regular-season finale this weekend. The Bulldogs (10-2) also have agreed to play in the Silicon Valley Classic on Dec. 31.

"My next step is to get the season done, win our last game and finish 11-2," said Hill, in his fifth year at Fresno State. "Then I'll sit down and look at the different options. I've said many, many times before that I'm satisfied here. It's a very special place and it would be hard for me to leave. That's the best way I can say it. It would be very, very hard for me to leave.

"I came here with goals, and we haven't reached all my goals yet. The only thing that concerns me is being head coach at Fresno State. I'm very serious about not pursuing any job. Be sure to mention this, though, whoever gets hired there has a great opportunity."

Hill, who reportedly wants to re-negotiate his contract, also has been mentioned for the California and San Diego State positions.

"I'm being mentioned as the front-runner for a bunch of jobs," Hill said. "But right now I'm the head coach of Fresno State. That's my No. 1 focus, my No. 1 concern. I'd really like to stay at Fresno State."

That said, he did leave open the possibility of leaving for Kansas.

"The Big 12 is the best football conference in the country, and there's only 12 coaching positions available," Hill said. "I've worked for Al Bohl. He gave me my first job. I think it's a great job and an outstanding situation for any coach fortunate enough to get it."

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