While Dana Anderson’s success in the business world has made him a lot of things — millionaire, vice chairman of the California-based Macerich Company, major donor to Kansas University — it hasn’t given him any particular insight into what makes a successful college football coach.
And so, as KU athletic director Lew Perkins carries out his search for a replacement to recently departed football coach Mark Mangino, Anderson — the man whose name adorns the Kansas University football team’s new $31 million complex — has refrained from throwing his two cents Perkins’ way.
“I know it’s fun for everybody to have opinions in sports,” Anderson said by phone from his office in Los Angeles this week. “But the truth is, I know a lot more about shopping centers than I do about athletics.”
As a result, Anderson hasn’t spoken with Perkins since the coaching search began, and has similarly avoided any urge to pick up the phone and get a progress update from the seventh-year athletic director — which, given Anderson’s stature as one of the university’s most prominent boosters, he almost certainly could.
Instead, Anderson has followed the search much like the rest of us, through the various newspaper and television reports that have surfaced sporadically along the way.
His wish is simply that Kansas hires the right man —whoever that may be — and does so quickly.
“I do think, obviously, that every day that goes by without a leader in the football program makes the recruiting this year more difficult and less productive,” he said. “So I’m hopeful that they do it with due diligence, but nevertheless moving as fast as they can.”
As of now, it’s hard to know exactly how fast Perkins has been moving — he has declined to comment throughout the week-long search, and school officials have said they won’t confirm or deny any reports during the process.
With the exception of Buffalo’s Turner Gill and Mississippi’s Houston Nutt, both of whom have reportedly spoken with Kansas officials about the opening, Perkins has managed to keep a good deal of his goings-on under wraps.
As a handful of potential candidates have dropped from the running, however, speculation has — at least temporarily — begun to center on Gill, Eastern Carolina’s Skip Holtz and Central Michigan’s Butch Jones.
With the program having made significant strides under Mangino, who led the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl title and back-to-back bowl victories for the first time in school history, Anderson believes the Kansas opening represents a good opportunity for a promising coach.
And he’s hoping that, given the program’s rise to respectability, said coach can keep it going.
“I don’t think there’s anything distinctively better about Oklahoma than Kansas — or Nebraska, for that matter,” he said. “But obviously, they have a tradition, and our goal is to try to get somewhere close to that.
“That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”