A potential starting point for KU AD Travis Goff’s search for a new football coach

photo by: Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

Travis Goff, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas and native of Dodge City, left, fist-bumps KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, right, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the Lied Center on KU's west campus.

Now that all of the introductions, handshakes and pleasantries have subsided, new University of Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff can fully immerse himself in the job of finding KU’s new football coach.

And the place he should start is on the telephone.

If it were me sitting in the AD’s chair, the first three phone calls I would make would be to Mark Mangino, Glen Mason and Clint Bowen.

Not to gauge their interest in the job, of course. But to pick their brains about the position itself — its challenges and hidden secrets and the traits that they believe are most important for the man who calls himself the next Kansas football coach.

The reason for the calls to Mangino and Mason are obvious. As two of the most successful coaches in school history, both men have unique insight into what it takes to build and sustain success in Lawrence.

The call to Bowen, who is now out of the college game and preparing for his first year as the head coach at Lawrence High School, is also essential because he was there for those two successful runs — along with a few failed stints — and because there aren’t many people on the planet who care about the program as much as he does who can offer the kind of insight into the highs and lows and dos and don’ts of rebuilding the program as he can.

Goff, who was hired and introduced last week, said he came to Kansas with an open mind and that he would spend the early portion of KU’s coaching search getting the lay of the land and finding out exactly what Kansas football needs from its next leader.

He also said, in no uncertain terms, that there was a plan.

If the plan, at least in large part, is to come in and evaluate the landscape by talking to as many people as possible before setting out to find the coach who best fits the position, personnel and current problems, Goff is well on his way to making a quality hire.

That certainly seems to be what’s happening.

Sources connected to all three coaches told the Journal-World on Monday morning that neither Jeff Monken, Willie Fritz nor Lance Leipold — three of the more popular names tied to the opening in recent weeks — had been approached by Kansas as of yet.

That’s not to say they won’t be. Remember, Goff started less than a week ago.

The smart money is on all three getting a call at some point. And all three make plenty of sense for the position on paper and are quality, proven coaches with a history of success.

But there remains a lot of work to be done before candidate phone calls and interviews take place. As long as he’s doing that work, that should be viewed as a good sign of Goff’s ability to do the job.

The instant gratification crowd among KU’s fan base may have preferred it if Goff were introduced last Wednesday with a candidate in mind so he could announce him as KU’s new coach on Friday or sometime today. Bing, bang, boom!

But that would’ve been hasty and probably would not have delivered the best fit for Kansas.

Simply put, the more thorough the approach the better Goff’s chances are of getting the hire right.

And the three names listed above are merely a starting point for that approach on a list that includes current and former players, current and former administrators, fans and donors, other coaches, media members and more. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Goff and his staff also will use a search firm — perhaps the same TurnkeyZRG group that helped KU find Goff — to help them identify candidates and finalists for the position.

A case can be made for talking to too many people and getting too many opinions in a situation such as this. But as long as Goff uses the input he gets to shape his own opinion about who to hire, the more the merrier.


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