How Kansas football has fared against new Big 12 coaches

Kansas head coach Les Miles talks with his players after Late Night Under the Lights on Saturday, April, 13, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

On the surface, Kansas might have an easier schedule than normal. At least as easy as it can be for a power five football team trying to finish higher than last in the Big 12 for the first time since 2014.

A common response from [a blog about KU’s win tota][1]l was the fact that the team will play three new head coaches in the Big 12 this season, all three of which will take place in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

There could be some truth to that, seeing how rare it is that four coaches of the 10 teams in the conference are in their first year at their respective programs. It gives off a perception that those select teams — West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas — might be on the same playing field.

Perhaps that is the case, and it allows Les Miles to lead the Jayhawks to four or more wins for the first time since 2009. KU will face WVU on Sept. 21 to kick off the conference slate, looking to end a nine-game skid in Big 12 openers. Kansas will also play host to Texas Tech (Oct. 26) and Kansas State (Nov. 2) on back-to-back weeks.

The Wildcats are under the leadership of Chris Klieman, who moves up to the power five level after claiming four national titles at North Dakota State. Matt Wells takes over for the Red Raiders after posting a 44-34 record at Utah State. West Virginia tabbed Neal Brown as its head coach after he went 36-16 at Troy.

All four new coaches, including Miles, were ultimately ranked at the bottom of the coaching [power rankings by CBS Sports in May][2]. While no other year has seen as much coaching turnover, I thought it would be interesting to see how Kansas has fared against new Big 12 coaches to see if there is reason for optimism after all.

I went back to 2000, which is a sample that includes teams that are no longer in the Big 12 conference. It is worth stating the obvious that Kansas has a total record of 6-42 in the first year under four different coaches since 2000. Turner Gill’s 3-10 clip in 2010 is the best record of a group that includes Mark Mangino (2-10 in 2002), Charlie Weis (1-11 in 2012), and David Beaty (0-12 in 2015).

That being said, this is about KU’s record against coaches in their first year with their respective program during their time in the Big 12 conference. Since 2000, Kansas has an overall record of 5-12 against such coaches. The last time the Jayhawks defeated a first-year head coach was against Paul Rhoads of Iowa State in 2009, which was a 41-36 home win on Oct. 10.

For this blog, I threw out Bill Snyder’s return season from the sample. But KU did record a 39-20 victory against Kansas State, which was coached by Ron Prince, on Nov. 18, 2006. It is the only time KU has faced a new coach in the Sunflower Showdown since 2000.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, has had three different coaches post winning records in their first season at the helm. The Red Raiders have never lost to the Jayhawks with a new coach during that span. This will be West Virginia’s first year facing Kansas with a new coach since joining the conference.

Now, of course, there is some truth to the notion that Kansas is fortunate to get all three teams at home in 2019. All five of KU’s wins against new coaches have come at home, including a 4-8 record against teams currently in the Big 12. The Jayhawks have wins over Kansas State (2006), Iowa State (2007 and 2009), Baylor (2003) and Colorado (2006).

For comparison, Kansas is 0-6 against new coaches on the road. KU’s average margin of victory in its five wins is 14.8 compared to an average margin of defeat of 19.2 in the 12 losses against new coaches.

What all does this mean exactly? Well, to be honest, not a lot. I just thought it would be interesting to see if history was on KU’s side in these situations. Kansas has never defeated a new Big 12 coach with its own new coach, but the program also hasn’t had someone like Miles at the helm.


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