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Coaching Search 2011: Day 3, 4:46 p.m. - USM speaks up; Leach to WSU; What's next for KU; Plus, a deeper look at Mark Stoops

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Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. by Associated Press

4:46 p.m. Update:

The folks at Southern Miss seem to be hearing about all of the interest in head football coach Larry Fedora and they're preparing for a battle...

The following has been posted on the USM official site in the AD's Blog section.

http://www.southernmiss.com/genrel/113011aaa.html

Here's the money quote from AD Richard Giannini's blog:

"Larry and I talk everyday and his entire focus and energy is on winning the C-USA Football Championship. After the season is over, Coach Fedora and I will sit down and discuss his future at Southern Miss. We want to assure everyone that Southern Miss will do everything possible to keep Coach Fedora a Golden Eagle."

4:23 p.m. Update:

Just a quick note of interest between phone calls...

I just clicked on an ESPN Insider piece by Brock Huard (yep, the former college QB) and in it he ranked the jobs currently open in college football.

Here was his order:

  1. North Carolina
  2. Arizona State
  3. Illinois
  4. UCLA
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Washington State
  7. Kansas

Just thought this was kind of interesting. Makes sense that he didn't have Tulane or Memphis on the list, but I was kind of surprised to see UNC at the top. Not terribly surprised to see KU at the bottom. It's not the way I'd rank them, but, hey, it's just one opinion.

For what it's worth, here's mine:

  1. Arizona State
  2. Ole Miss
  3. UCLA
  4. Kansas
  5. North Carolina
  6. Illinois
  7. Washington State

Stay tuned...

3:14 p.m. Update:

If the Leach to Washington State reports are true — and it looks like they probably are — all is not lost for the Kansas University football program. Far from it, in fact.

Here's what I know about the candidates who remain. (Reminder: I don't know about all of the candidates on KU's list, as much as I freakin' wish I did!!!)

While KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger is the only person from KU actively involved in the search for the Jayhawks' next head football coach, he's not acting alone. Zenger said earlier today that a private donor has offered to cover expenses for him to use a search consultant on limited basis.

The consultant will essentially function as Zenger's wing man and will be able to peruse Zenger's list, comment on it as he sees fit and even add names for Zenger's consideration.

Again, the ultimate decision-making power resides with Zenger and any move he makes likely would have to be approved by KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. More on that later. But I thought I'd throw that in there now so that you all can see that Zenger has all he needs at his disposal.

Now, on to the nuts and bolts of where the Jayhawks turn from here.

Likely to get an interview:

• Larry Fedora, 49, Southern Miss head coach
• Mark Stoops, 44, Florida State defensive coordinator
• Brent Venables, 40, Oklahoma defensive coordinator

I'm sure there are a couple of others, too... Perhaps names we haven't heard a whole lot about. But, for now, that seems like a good place to start.

I also think that KU still has a great deal of interest in Houston's Kevin Sumlin, but sources have said that Sumlin isn't interested in Kansas.

I know there have to be a couple of other current head coaches (or at least guys who have been head coaches) on that A-List, but I haven't heard who they might be...

Not on the A List but possibly still lurking:

• Sonny Dykes, 42, Louisiana Tech head coach
• Dave Doeren, 39, Northern Illinois head coach
• Troy Calhoun, 45, Air Force head coach

Likely out of the mix:

• Jim Tressel, 58, former Ohio State coach never was in the picture
• Kevin Sumlin, 47, head coach at Houston seems to have more interest in other jobs
• Mike Stoops, 49, former Arizona head coach and Oklahoma assistant

Looking for more names and trying to narrow things down a bit.

Stay tuned...

2:51 p.m. Update:

Lots of reports about an official offer to Leach starting to hit the world wide web... Looks legit. Bruce Feldman, who co-wrote Leach's book, has Tweeted it and here's an actual report of it.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/cougars/2016895773_coug01.html

No time to panic. Be back real soon with where KU goes from here.

Stay tuned...

2:08 p.m. Update:

And now here's this from the Seattle Times Twitter account: http://twitter.com/#!/SeaTimesSports

We've been seeing incorrect tweets saying we reported WSU has hired Mike Leach. We've not reported this, but are checking.

Poor people. Poor Mason Kelley. Doesn't mean it's over, but it's definitely a momentary mess.

Stay tuned...

1:49 p.m. Update:

There's a lot of people freaking out about the "reports" of Leach to Washington State being a done deal. I don't think that's the case just yet, and I think the reports have been reacted to a little heavily.

Here's the Tweet from Seattle Times employee Mason Kelley, whose father, Steve Kelley, is a columnist for the paper.

https://twitter.com/#!/masonkelley/status/141944717884661760

As you see, nowhere in there does it say that a deal has been reached or that the Cougars are set to announce anything. Just the following:

A source has told Steve Kelley that Mike Leach is on his way to WSU. Just though I'd pass it along.

Fair enough. Leach may be on his way to Pullman, Wash., and may be headed to interview. Doesn't mean it's a done deal. Doesn't mean it's not.

Time will tell, but I don't think this is a done deal just yet - either way.

Stay tuned...

12:43 p.m. Update:

Just saw a link to the job posting for North Carolina’s head football coaching position and it’s a pretty interesting read.

For those looking to kill time and interested in how something like this might be worded, here’s a look: https://itsapps.unc.edu/RAMS4/details.do?reqId=2502142&type=N

Naturally, this made me wonder if KU had posted a similar “job listing” somewhere on one of its sites, but KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the school had not posted it. They are not required to do so, so this is not that big of a surprise. The job is high-profile enough that the word that it’s open seems to have gotten out to the “public” just fine.

Total speculation here, but my read on it not being posted is that that’s good news... Makes me think this thing will move quickly — which we’ve been saying all along — and that the folks at KU felt there was no need to post it officially because they’ve had candidates in mind and the others who may be interested know how to get their name into the mix.

More to come. Stay tuned...

11:51 a.m. Update:

Throw another school into the ring of fighters for Mike Leach's services. This story from the Chicago Sun Times now says that Illinois is interested in Leach.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/colleges/9144383-419/illinois-ad-mike-thomas-interviews-paul-chryst.html

In fact, the article mentions Leach as a top-three candidate. But that's a want, not necessarily a reality.

It's no surprise that the Illini are interested in Leach... everyone is. But the important part of the equation is if Leach is interested in them. The guess here is no way, but their interest, which further muddies the waters, definitely bears mentioning.

While answering some comments and taking some calls in the last couple of hours, something else hit me and that's the list of available names that are not being considered for this job. It's astonishing. Here's a quick rundown. I don't bring these guys up because I think they'll become candidates for the KU job, more to show you who's out there and just how likely it is that everyone searching will find a solid coach in the next few weeks.

Butch Davis - former Miami and NFL coach once thought to be as good as it got.

Randy Shannon - Another former Miami coach who left the U a little early, if you ask me.

Dennis Erickson - Recently fired, which taints his image, but a good one nonetheless. And ANOTHER Miami guy. Man, what's going on here?

Gary Barnett - Former Colorado and Northwestern coach who had great success both places.

Dennis Franchione - Has ties to KU and has been some great places - Bama, A&M...

Pat Fitzgerald - Current Northwestern coach was a hot candidate last time around.

Pat Hill - Head coach at Fresno State, who made Fresno the Boise and TCU of college football before Boise and TCU were what they are today. Hill was a hot candidate when KU hired Mangino.

The list goes on and on and on. It's a really impressive pool that's out there right now and it just increases the odds that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger will land a good coach who is the right fit for Kansas.

Lastly (for now), I'm not always in front of my computer and when I'm not I'm usually trying to filter some updates through Twitter. If you're not already following me do it here so you don't miss out on any info.

Off to make some more calls and track some more developments. Be back with more soon.

Stay tuned...

9:37 a.m. Update:

Day 3 of the KU football coaching search has arrived and, I’m sure for most, it feels like it’s already been about 6 or 7 days.

That’s what tracking every little move and rumor out there can do and if you don’t focus on taking it all in and enjoying the ride it can drive you crazy.

Although things have been pretty quiet around KU so far, a source told me last night that things are about to get even quieter in the next couple of days. That’s likely because the real work is about to begin.

Don’t get me wrong, KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has been doing plenty of real work. No one knows for sure what that is but it most likely has consisted of contacting potential candidates and formulating a game plan for how he wants to attack this thing. Now, it looks as if it’s time for him to put that plan into action. The biggest ball to get rolling includes going on the road to talk with candidates face-to-face beginning today.

As best we can tell, Mike Leach, Larry Fedora, Mark Stoops, Brent Venables and a couple others remain at the top of KU's list, with perhaps an unknown name or two still in the mix on that level. There's been no word about which one of those, if any, he will visit first, but things are in motion.

In keeping with the theme of the week, let’s kick off another day of searching with a little deeper look at one of those candidates.

Today: Mark Stoops, defensive coordinator at Florida State and member of the famed Stoops football coaching family.

Interesting discussion about Stoops and the KU job at one Florida State site: http://www.tomahawknation.com/2011/11/27/2590562/will-fsu-defensive-coordinator-mark-stoops-be-interviewed-for-head

Conflicting reports on whether FAU is/was interested in the Stoops brothers? http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/owls/mark-and-mike-stoops-reportedly-tell-fau-theyre-1996600.html

Mike Stoops talking about his brother Mark:

Mark Stoops interview from August, 2001

And here’s this from Stoops’ FSU bio:

Mark Stoops begins his 21st season of coaching as Florida State's first-year defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Hired by Jimbo Fisher is January to replace the venerable Mickey Andrews, Stoops came to the FSU from Arizona, where he spent the past six seasons serving the Wildcats in the same capacity under his head coaching brother Mike Stoops. His is also the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.

Was instrumental in turning the Wildcats into one of the finest defensive units in the Pac-10. Arizona ranked 25th nationally in total defense last season and was ranked among the top three in the conference in five statistical categories as it authored a second consecutive 8-5 season.

Stoops built an impressive resume by developing nationally elite units, especially in the secondary. Prior to his six-year run at Arizona, he spent three seasons at the University of Miami as the secondary coach. His '02 and '03 units led the nation in pass defense, while the '01 Hurricanes - which won the national championship - led the nation in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.

He spent the 2000 season as co-defensive coordinator at Houston, following a three-year run at Wyoming as the secondary coach. His first full-time college job came in 1996 when he was hired by USF to help with the start-up of the program.

A proponent of zone schemes, Stoops' pass defenses have been especially proficient and extraordinary at takeaways. The 2001 Miami team established a single-season school record with 27 interceptions and 45 takeaways. Miami's 2002 secondary tied an NCAA record by allowing just 9.5 yards per completion. The 2003 Hurricanes were second in total defense and fourth in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. The 1997 Wyoming secondary contributed significantly to its school-record 24 interceptions.

Stoops recruited and developed some of the finest defensive backs in the nation over the past decade, many of who have gone on to enjoy outstanding NFL career careers. Among the notable are Arizona's Antoine Cason and Michael Johnson, Miami's Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor, Edward Reed, Phillip Buchanon and Mike Rumph, and Wyoming's Brian Lee.

Like his brothers, Stoops played collegiately in the secondary at Iowa for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry. Fry hired Stoops as a graduate assistant for the 1990 and 1991 seasons. The Hawkeyes won the 1990 Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl; duplicating feats Stoops also achieved as a player during a four-year career.

As a player and a coach, he has taken part in 11 bowls, including each of his final two seasons at Arizona.

Before launching his collegiate coaching career, Stoops followed in his father's footsteps as a high school football coach. He spent four years at Ohio's Nordonia Hills as an assistant and the school's athletic director.

Raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops played high school football at Cardinal Mooney.

Much more to come throughout the day. Stay tuned...

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