This isn’t for publication, so whatever you do, don’t breathe a word of it to anybody.
Two frequently asked, easy-to-answer questions raise another: Why are they asked?
Question No. 1: Don’t you think Kansas needs to land a big-name athletic director?
Answer: No. An athletic director who works behind the scenes to make the right business contacts within the industry, understands the value of marketing, hires the right fits for coaching openings, knows how to stay out of the way of the coaches and can shake the most fruitful trees isn’t going to grow his name by doing any of that.
One strong indicator of success is how much a coach’s name grows after an AD makes the hire. If the answer is a lot, that generally means the AD made the right hire and put the right support system in place in the way of facilities, etc.
Question No. 2: Isn’t it imperative that the AD comes from a school with a strong football program?
Answer: No. Ford Motor Company has no regrets about handing the keys to an air-transportation guy.
A winner’s a winner. A good marketer is a good marketer. A good fundraiser is a good fundraiser. Someone blessed with the ability to hire the right basketball coach can use those same instincts to hire the right coach in any sport.
Under the watch of Al Bohl, tailgating returned, which spiked football interest. Under Lew Perkins, ticket sales increased in a large part because Mark Mangino fielded competitive teams, including one that went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. Under Perkins, innovative marketing that made buying football tickets result in better basketball seats, an enhanced game-day experience and promoting the heck out of football also played a big role in increasing ticket sales. The building of the football complex enhances KU’s chances of upgrading recruiting.
Perkins’ attempt at a Gridiron Club was way too aggressively priced and went nowhere, but what was the harm in trying?
In the end, a football coach and his staff win football games. The new AD can’t help in that area, except by staying out of the way and continuing to raise money.
— As for what the whispers in the wind are saying about the identity of the next AD, give the search committee credit for keeping a lid on that. The whispers that do blow into the ears come from other schools, and here’s what the latest ones are indicating: The committee is expected to bring three names to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, probably by mid-December or sooner. The name that seems to have had the most staying power has been that of Bubba Cunningham, Tulsa’s AD.
Craig Angelos, who heads the athletic department at Florida Atlantic University, received a long look, but his name doesn’t seem to get whispered as loudly anymore.
It’s widely believed Colorado AD Mike Bohn covets the job. He played quarterback at Kansas in 1982, two seasons after search committee chairman Ray Evans finished his KU career. CU’s athletic department is cash-strapped, and the Dan Hawkins hire backfired in a big way. Bohn’s best selling point: Play up his role in getting Colorado into the Pac-12.
— Gill will get a minimum of three years, probably more like five, to prove Perkins hired the right guy. The first-year KU coach’s popularity will spike if he can land 6-foot-5, 235-pound QB Zack Stoudt from Iowa Western Community College. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 2 juco QB in the nation.
A December graduate, Stoudt would be the heavy favorite to win the starting job at KU in the spring. Stoudt spent his first two seasons at Louisville, one as a red-shirt, the next as a reserve.
When Steve Kragthorpe, the coach who recruited him, was fired, Stoudt transferred to juco, where he has performed so well he’s being recruited by KU, Mississippi and several others.
If the last name sounds familiar, that’s because Zack’s father, Cliff Stoudt, played seven seasons as a quarterback in the NFL. He spent his first three seasons as a backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was their starter in 1983, worked as backup QB for the (St. Louis and Phoenix) Cardinals for three seasons, the Miami Dolphins for one.
— Spike Santee, son of KU track legend Wes Santee, reports in an e-mail that he and wife Trena lost two great athletes in a five-day span. Trena’s father, rodeo champion Lee Crockell, died from Parkinson’s at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence, less than a week after Wes died from cancer.
Of Crockell, Spike writes, “Lee was the only tie-down roper to win the so-called Grand Slam of that era — rodeos at Madison Square Garden in New York, the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days, the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede and the Grand National in San Francisco.”
Spike set up tribute sites for both men at wessantee.com and leecockrell.com.