Found November 28, 2011 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
By B.J. Rains FOXSportsKansasCity.com If Kansas football fans got their wish, former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach would be immediately hired to replace Turner Gill. Gill was fired Sunday after leading the Jayhawks to a 5-19 record in two seasons, igniting immediate speculation and discussion about who Kansas might turn to next. And if athletic director Sheahon Zenger wants to make the popular hire, it appears it would be to pony up the cash and bring in Leach. A poll on the Lawrence Journal-World's website Sunday evening had fans select who they would prefer to be the next KU football coach from a list of ten candidates. Leach was the overwhelming leader with 50 percent of the votes while Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables was second with nine percent and Boise State coach Chris Petersen came in third with seven percent. Bringing in the offensive-guru who led Texas Tech to ten bowl games in ten seasons would be a bold move for Kansas, who is looking to get back into the national spotlight after a pair of disappointing seasons under Gill. And Leach would certainly bring instant credibility to a Jayhawk program that has gone from a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl Championship to an 0-9 mark in conference play in just four seasons. Fans in Lawrence would again be excited about Kansas football and the program would return to the national map with everyone from recruits to national pundits. But Leach is the hottest name on the market and with schools such as Arizona State, Illinois, North Carolina, Penn State, and Mississippi also looking for new coaches, the Jayhawks might not be able to convince him that they possess the most attractive offer. In a statement announcing Gill's firing Sunday afternoon, Zenger didn't get into specific names but said a nationwide search would begin immediately. "I have no specific timetable," Zenger said. "Naturally I would like to have a new coach on board as soon as possible." If the Jayhawks can't land Leach, several other attractive candidates remain. Among them is San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who hired Zenger to be his recruiting coordinator for a time at South Florida. Leavitt led South Florida to a 94-57 record and five bowl appearances in 13 seasons and would be another attractive name for KU boosters expecting a home-run hire. Another intriguing candidate is Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, who is 34-16 in four seasons at Houston and currently has the Cougars undefeated and ranked eighth in the country. Sumlin, who was on the Jayhawks list two years ago before they hired Gill, may be ready to move to Lawrence with Houston quarterback Case Keenum out of eligibility. Peterson would be a definite fan favorite should the Jayhawks lure him away from the blue turf at Boise State. He's 70-6 in six seasons at Boise State and has led the Broncos to two BCS bowl appearances but may not be intrigued by the tough chore of having to rebuild the KU program. Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora could be considered as well. The 49-year-old is 31-19 in four seasons and has taken them to a bowl game each season. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator knows the Big 12 and might jump at the chance to return to the league. Former Arizona coach Mike Stoops and brother Mark, currently the defensive coordinator at Florida State, also appear to be candidates. Both have the credentials and the name their brother is Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to succeed in the Big 12. Other possible candidates include Venables and Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who could have success at KU running the same wishbone offense he currently employs at Air Force. The Jayhawks' strength this season was their running game. With numerous schools also looking for coaches and more potential openings coming at UCLA, Washington State and elsewhere, expect Kansas to move quickly with their search.
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