After announcing Sunday afternoon that coach David Beaty will be fired following the 2018 season, Kansas athletic director Jeff Long spoke some about what he was looking for in his next football leader.
“Our search will find an experienced Head Coach,” Long posted on his personal Twitter account. “A Head Coach that is a proven program builder and strong recruiter. A Head Coach that is an established leader of men, both on and off the field. A Head Coach who is committed to Breaking the Cycle for KU football.”
With that in mind, here’s a list of names that could be considered for KU’s football coaching vacancy, in no particular order:
Les Miles, Fox analyst — The former LSU coach Miles will turn 65 in November, and he’s spoken openly in past years about wanting to coach again. If hired, he also could get a head start in recruiting without any current ties to a college program.
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Dave Doeren, N.C. State — A Shawnee native and former KU assistant coach, Doeren badly wanted the Jayhawks’ head-coaching gig in 2011 when athletic director Sheahon Zenger chose Charlie Weis instead. Doeren got some revenge soon enough, as his Northern Illinois team defeated KU, 30-23, the next season in DeKalb, Ill. Doeren is in his sixth year at N.C. State and led the program to four straight bowl appearances prior to this season. For Doeren to return, KU would have to pay a $6 million buyout (according to The Raleigh News & Observer) in addition to topping a recent extension that pays him $3 million annually through December of 2022.
Seth Littrell, North Texas — A former KU football graduate assistant from 2002-04, the 40-year-old Littrell is considered one of the top up-and-coming coaches after leading North Texas to two bowl appearances and a 7-2 start this season. Littrell, who was a team captain for Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team during his playing days, has helped the Mean Green become a top-25 team nationally in both scoring and total offense this season. His buyout, per a contract extension signed earlier this year, is $2.1 million, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic — The former Oakland Raiders coach resurrected his head-coaching career in 2017 with Florida Atlantic, leading the Owls to an 11-3 record and Conference USA championship last year in his first season. Kiffin’s buyout — he makes $1 million each year at FAU — would be $2 million.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force — Calhoun, a former Houston Texans offensive coordinator in his 12th season with Air Force, took the Falcons to nine bowl games in his first 10 years before seeing some struggles in 2017 and 2018. His contract extension — the financial details are not released because the academy is a non-profit — runs through 2021.
Willie Fritz, Tulane — A graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest and former Central Missouri coach, Fritz led Georgia Southern to a pair of nine-win seasons before spending the last three seasons at Tulane. After receiving a contract extension in May, Fritz is being paid $1,629,000 this year according to USA Today, though his buyout amount is not known because Tulane is a private school.
Bret Bielema, New England Patriots consultant — A CBS Sports story from Dennis Dodd in July started with these six words: “Bret Bielema isn’t going to Kansas.” Can circumstances change, though? Bielema was already hired once by Long back at Arkansas in 2012, so it’d be foolish to think that Long wouldn’t at least give Bielema a courtesy call if he believed he’d be a good candidate.