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Coaching Search 2011: Day 4, 6:07 p.m. - Sherman out at A&M?; chat transcript; 2 very different lists; plus more on Fedora and Ole Miss

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Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables. by Associated Press

6:07 p.m. Update:

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman just recently threw out a Tweet that said Texas A&M has decided to get rid of head coach Mike Sherman. Nothing official yet, but, if true, the move would open the door for Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora to head to A&M.

Fedora is a native of College Station, Texas, and would seem — SEEM — to be very interested in that job, which would then throw another wrinkle in KU's plans.

We'll see how this develops.

Stay tuned...

4:24 p.m. Update:

Just wrapped up the live chat we did and I want to say thanks to all who stopped by to check it out. It went very well and we'll do another one sometime soon.

Here's the link for those who missed it and might want to catch up. Warning: It's long!

http://www2.kusports.com/chats/2011/dec/01/matt-tait/

Fortunately, while we were chatting, not a whole lot happened in the coaching search world... at least not above the surface.

Rumors of Kevin Sumlin to Arizona State popped up and were squashed, Houston Nutt's name came up as someone who may be showing interest in the KU job and ESPN's Scott Van Pelt — a frequent visitor to Allen Fieldhouse — called the KU job the worst of the current BCS openings.

Wonder how Van Pelt's seats will be next time he wants to take in a game.

Anyway, I'll stay on this for the rest of the night but I've gotta pound the phones for a while and make up for lost time on the chat. Thanks again for stopping by and if you didn't or haven't go check it out.

Stay tuned...

12:39 p.m. Update:

Four days is not that long when it comes to just about everything. But in the world of a coaching search, that amount of time can feel like an eternity.

We're now midway through Day 4 of KU's coaching search, and we're starting to discover that this may be a tough job to fill. There is plenty of interest out there, from all walks of life, but progressing from interest and to an actual interview can be a long road.

With that in mind, here's a look at a couple of lists that have taken shape with regard to KU's coaching vacancy. The first is a group of five candidates that KU fans would probably be OK with if one of these five guys was named KU's new football coach.

--- These lists are in no particular order ---

1. Mark Stoops - Florida State defensive coordinator with great football pedigree
2. Larry Fedora - Southern Miss head coach is one of the hottest names out there
3. Brent Venables - OU defensive coordinator a long shot to land the job but is interested
4. June Jones - Offensive guru with past success at Hawaii and SMU
5. Skip Holtz - S. Florida coach has good pedigree and may be looking to escape Big East

The second list is the one that KU fans don't want to see but may have to get comfortable with in the coming days. It's entirely possible that parts of both list could merge together to make one super list, but only time will tell if that's the case. Here are the names that would probably take some serious selling if KU announced one of these five guys.

1. Dave Doeren - N. Illinois coach has KU ties, is an up-and-comer but isn't super sexy
2. Dave Christensen - Wyoming coach with ties to the area has had success out west
3. Sonny Dykes - La. Tech head coach a lot like Mike Leach but without the wackiness
4. Dana Dimel - K-State assistant and former Wyoming coach with ties to Zenger
5. Troy Calhoun - Air Force head coach is strict disciplinarian and has had success at AF

Still trying to track down some information and add or subtract guys from these lists.

I still believe that there's a name or two out there that may fall in between these two lists and would be a great hire and one that KU fans would embrace. Can't put my finger on who that might be, but I'm working on it.

Stay tuned... And don't forget to check out our live chat on the front of the site a little later today, at 2 p.m. (central time)

10:58 a.m. Update:

With names flying around all over the place and no clear cut leader emerging in KU's search for a head football coach, let's get away from some of the reaches and shift back to a name we know is on the list and near the top — Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora.

The Sun-Herald, in south Mississippi, revealed in this article that Fedora did not deny interest in the Ole Miss job when asked about it on Wednesday.

http://www.sunherald.com/2011/11/30/3605804/is-fedora-staying-or-going.html

There's a chance they could be reading too much into his "non-denial" because Fedora has said from the beginning that his focus was on the upcoming Conference USA championship game against Houston and nothing else. Therefore, it would seem entirely logical for him to give no comment on any and all questions about any and all schools.

Still, you have to believe Fedora would have at least some interest in Ole Miss if they're interested in targeting him as reports have indicated.

Here's are a couple of quick updates on where Ole Miss is at in its search. This first article is really interesting. It says that Ole Miss' search committee met with the team to share information on the candidates and field questions about the search from the players. The meeting was closed and no details were divulged, but that's very interesting.

Don't expect to see that at Kansas — or most other places for that matter. It's, quite frankly, a pretty wild way of running a search considering how tough that makes it to keep news quiet. Can you imagine how quickly word could spread if 100 KU football players had some information. Props to Ole Miss for doing right by their players, but wow. Wow!

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/12/ole_miss_inching_closer_to_nam.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20111201/SPORTS030103/112010333/Search-might-reach-next-week

http://www.theolemissblog.com/2011-articles/november/ole-miss-coaching-search-update-smart-or-fedora.html

Also, I heard somewhere recently that Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com reported via Twitter this morning that Texas A&M was likely keeping Mike Sherman. Brown covers Texas and not Texas A&M, but he's pretty plugged in. I'll do some more digging.

If A&M's job is not open, that boosts KU's chances of landing Fedora.

Here's a recap from the Houston Chronicle about Sherman's fate hanging in the balance.

http://blog.chron.com/aggies/2011/12/shermans-fate-might-be-decided-today/

Much more to come. Stay tuned...

9:24 a.m. Update:

Starting to hear a few grumblings that Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald may be in the mix for the Kansas job.

Fitzgerald, who turns 37 tomorrow, who has been at Northwestern since 2001, the head coach since 2006, has put together a 40-35 overall record at Northwestern and has led the Wildcats to three bowl appearances during that time.

Fitzgerald was a fairly hot candidate for the KU job when the Jayhawks hired Turner Gill in 2009 but it was believed then — as it may still be today — that it would be tough to pull him away from his alma mater.

Fitzgerald currently makes $1.1 million at Northwestern.

We'll see what happens, but keep an eye on Fitzgerald and Evanston, Ill.

Also heard from someone who listened to the show that Gary Barnett was on 810 sports radio in Kansas City this morning and said he would definitely be interested in the KU job.

Coincidentally, Fitzgerald played at Northwestern for Barnett, who has a great track record of success at both NU and Colorado.

Barnett, 65, last coached in 2005 and won several coach of the year awards in 1995. He also was named the Big 12 coach of the year in 2001 and 2004 and Big Ten coach of the year in 1995 and 1996.

Back to the phones to see what more I can find out.

Stay tuned...

1:31 a.m. Update:

First, before we get too far into this thing, I’ll be doing a live chat at 2 p.m. (central time) today on KUSports.com.

Log on now or any time to submit your questions and then swing by around 2:00 to see what kind of answers I can come up with.

OK, back to the search...

It’s Day 4 of the Kansas University football coaching search, and I’m sure for many of you, it feels more like day 40.

As the days go by and candidates come and go, rise and fall, it becomes clear that crossing names off the list is easier to do than adding names to it or highlighting names on it.

This much we know: Mike Leach is not coming. The former Texas Tech coach agreed Wednesday, to become the next head coach at Washington State, spurning all other suitors for five years, $2.4 million per, and the great Northwest. Like I said, cross him off the list.

Strong cases continue to be made to strike Jim Leavitt, Jim Tressel, Kevin Sumlin and Mike Stoops from the list, so, from the looks of things, it appears we may be getting somewhere.

We’re not. KU may be. But we’re certainly not.

Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora and, to some extent, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables all appear to be in good shape to at least get an interview with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger.

On the B List, Dave Doeren (Northern Illinois), Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech), June Jones (SMU) and a few others may draw some interest.

And then you have all kinds of other names that have been kicked around, some with at least a little merit and others with absolutely none: Fulmer, Fitzgerald, Barnett, Christensen, Mason, Smart, Shannon, Calhoun, Davis, Jones, Jones, Dimel.... The list goes on and on...

Some of those are worth checking into and others are worth adding to the scrap pile. After that, we’re stretching quite a bit, but that, too, has been done before. And at places far more impressive than Kansas.

Take Auburn, for example. After forcing Tommy Tuberville out of town at the end of 2008, the Tigers replaced him with a man named Gene Chizik, who, in two years at Iowa State, had racked up an unimpressive 5-19 mark. Lo and behold, two years later, Chizik and the Tigers won the national championship.

I’m not saying that’s going to happen at Kansas — I repeat, I'm NOT saying it's going to happen — but, remember, Zenger is looking for the guy he deems to be the best fit for KU. That might not be the most impressive name or even one you’ve ever heard of. In case it’s not, and in case that’s the route he goes, here are four names that fit the bill.

• Jeff Monken - 44 - Georgia Southern head coach who is 19-7 during his two seasons in charge. Key player in helping Paul Johnson develop a prolific rushing offense at Georgia Tech. Once interviewed with Zenger for the Illinois State job.

Pregame speech during first season at Georgia Southern:

• Justin Fuente - 35 - Co-offensive coordinator at TCU, now in his 5th season with the Horned Frogs. Before TCU, Fuente spent six seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Illinois State, the final two of which came while Zenger was the school’s athletic director.

Interview during week leading up to the Rose Bowl:

• Paul Chryst - 46 - Offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, now in his sixth consecutive season with the Badgers, is developing into a darkhorse candidate for some jobs out there. Has NFL experience as a tight ends coach and also worked at Oregon State. Told the Chicago Tribune this week that things had been quiet on his end regarding any coaching inquiries. Currently is prepping to take on Michigan State in this year's Big Ten championship game.

Local TV feature on Chryst and his offense:

• Todd Monken - 45 - First-year Oklahoma State offensive coordinator who has experience in the Midwest, the NFL (Jacksonville) and at a big-time school like LSU has drawn some interest at a few schools during the early days of the searching. Withdrew his name from Tulane’s search and his ties to Jeff Monken (brother) could make him familiar with Zenger.

Interview after OSU’s 2011 spring game:

One more note of interest to kick off the day, reports late Wednesday night suggested that Texas A&M was inching toward getting rid of Mike Sherman. Some reports indicated that all that stood in the Aggies’ way was coming up with the cash to get rid of him.

If that’s the case, and if they find the money, Kansas fans — and everyone else for that matter — can say goodbye to their chances of landing Fedora.

Fedora grew up in College Station, Texas, was a successful high school coach in the state and now, with Leach off the board, is one of the hotter names out there.

Stay tuned...

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