One thing has been for sure during Les Miles short tenure at Kansas—he likes to keep things tight knit. This became especially apparent when he hired ex Auburn OC Chip Lindsey, who wasn’t really a potential candidate on many lists, if any.
But now that Miles has his OC, the focus shifts to DC, where Clint Bowen currently holds the position. Some are speculating he’ll stay, and a few more are saying he should stay, but most people are saying he needs to go. I’m in the “he needs to go” crowd.
Yes, the defense showed improvement this year. But it still finished 77th in the nation overall and it was Bowen’s best defense. That’s not saying much. And as many times as Kansas turned the ball over, they still gave up a ton of points and the secondary was burned on way too many occasions.
At this point, it’s time for a change. And Les Miles wasn’t brought in to keep a guy like Bowen around. He was brought in to turn a football program around, not a run a cheer-leading squad.
Having said that, let’s look at some potential DC candidates that I think would be great hires for Kansas football and match the great OC hire in Chip Lindsey.
1.) Nate Woody – Currently at Georgia Tech as the DC, Woody is a guy who just saw his Head Coach retire. So naturally he’ll be looking at his options. Georgia Tech’s defense wasn’t great this year by any means, but they finished 43rd in the nation, well above what Kansas finished. Woody was defensive coordinator from 2014-2017 at Appalachian State under Scott Satterfield and did a fantastic job. His defenses finished 38th in 2017, 11th in 2016, 11th in 2015 and 24th in 2014. I’d say that’s a pretty impressive resume. He’s also regarded as one of the top coordinators in the game by Athlon Sports as he was ranked 16th of 30 before the 2018 season. There has also been some chatter that a few flights have taken off from Lawrence to Atlanta, which is where he’s assumed to be.
2.) Kevin Kane – Currently at SMU as the DC, Kane is a guy with Kansas ties and even served as the LB coach in 2015. He left after one year and was DC at Northern Illinois. During his first year back at NIU the defense had a rough start and finished 95th in the nation, but then he recovered in 2017 as they finished 19th. He then went on to SMU to be the DC under Sonny Dykes. Before Kane arrived the defense finished 122nd but the next year, Kane’s first on the job, they finished 89th, which is a massive improvement in just one year. With Kane’s ties to Kansas it makes sense and he would be welcomed with open arms. And who knows, maybe he could be groomed to be the next HC someday.
3.) Bryan Brown – Currently at Appalachian State, Brown has only one year of DC experience but he’s been incredibly impressive and is an absolute up and comer. During his first year as DC the defense ranked 6th in the nation. That’s nothing short of impressive. He also has solid experience as a DB coach and could really help the secondary, which is an area that needs help the most at Kansas. He would be a bit of a gamble with the little experience, but if he worked out it could be a great situation.
4.) Pete Golding – Currently at Alabama, Golding is serving as the Co-DC. Any coach that comes from the Alabama program is usually a stud and knows what they’re doing. Golding doesn’t have a ton of experience at the DC but he’s done a solid job everywhere he’s been. Before his one year at Alabama he was at UTSA. It’s also worth noting he has Louisiana ties as that’s where he’s from so he could already have a relationship with Les Miles.
5.) Bo Pelini – Currently at Youngstown State, Pelini is serving as the Head Coach in the final year of his contract. This may be a bit of a stretch but Pelini has worked under Les Miles at two different stops, which include Oklahoma State and LSU. Why wouldn’t he want to do it again? He’s also not just a great DC, but he has been a solid Head Coach and did a great job bringing Nebraska back to relevance. Due to his sporadic behavior Nebraska ended up firing him and he’s been at Youngstown State ever since, which is where he’s from. With his contract ending this year, and Youngstown State reportedly not wanting to renew him, it could be perfect timing for Miles and Pelini to hook up again. I do find it unlikely, but not impossible.
I want to be clear in saying that none of these guys are rumored as candidates but to me they seem like they’d be solid hires. And if it were up to me I’d go the Nate Woody or Kevin Kane route. Both guys have experience and have proven they can get the job done.
Either way I’m sure we’ll know soon enough as the early signing day period for recruiting ends in the next few weeks.