Sheahon Zenger needs to pump the brakes on the Mike Leach Express and KU fans longing for the pirate loving football coach.
The inevitable happened and Turner Gill is gone. The Kansas football program will now attempt to maintain some relevance in a time where success on the gridiron reigns supreme above all over other athletics. This is not an easy task, but it's the one that falls on the shoulders of KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger. He must try to repair the damage that has come to this program that won the Orange Bowl four short years ago. So the question is, where does KU go from here?
The obvious name that Kansas’s fans are dying for in the head coach spot is Mike Leach, but this is problematic in several ways -- not because it wouldn’t be a good fit in a pure football sense for both Leach and KU. Leach has the rare coaching ability to not only to rebuild a program, but also make it a consistent force within a major conference. However, for Leach to be linked to KU is to immerse the school and program in legal issues and drama they're currently free of.
Leach's current lawsuit versus Texas Tech is now in the Texas Supreme Court and looks like it will not fall in Leach’s favor. He also has two separate lawsuits that are hanging out there as well. One is against Craig James that is in its infancy and then another comes against the mothership known ESPN. With the way things ended for Leach at Texas Tech and with his continued courtroom presence, hiring him as the next KU coach seems unlikely. The last thing KU needs around its football program is more off-the-field distractions. This is the same program that had to run Mark Mangino out after stories of abusing players came to light and had federal investigators indicting members of the athletic department like they were Blu-Rays on Black Friday.
There are those that think Leach is a home-run hire for a program in KU’s position of doormat and punch line. Fans cite his relationship with Sheahon Zenger as the reason the KU job is an easy sell. But there is one obvious question that is being overlooked and has to be asked: why hasn’t Mike Leach been hired yet? This offense genius has been on the open market for well over a year now and still doesn’t have a job. That has to raise concerns about Leach’s fit at KU. I know Kansas fans just witnessed possible the worst season in school history, but that only makes Leach the hot girl you rebound with. Just because it looks like a perfect marriage doesn’t mean that it is.
Mike Leach was fired for a reason and whether you agree with the reason or not does not change that at the end of the day he was fired. Study how things ended for Leach at Texas Tech and look at why he was fired. Scrutinize how things got to a point where he needed to go. The issue with Adam James and the shed was just a symptom of the disease. I am not condoning what Mike Leach did at Texas Tech at all. I do have a feeling that it is something that happens at many college programs around the nation. Leach was in a position where the tension between him and the higher ups at Texas Tech made it a lot easier to fire him at the first sign of impropriety. Mike Leach’s inability to have a good working relationship is the disease that will plague Leach for the rest of his career.
Unfortunately for Mike Leach we now live in a post-Penn State world. Many of the issues that got coaches like Mark Mangino, Jim Leavitt, and Mike Leach fired a couple of years ago are now under more of a microscope thanks to the scandals at the Penn State and Syracuse. This is a brave new world when it comes to the conduct of the athletic department members. The thing KU cannot afford is yet another misstep in the football department. After all, if conference realignment has taught us anything, it's that you only matter if your football team matters. KU needs to matter and Sheahon Zenger needs to make it matter. But feel free to play the field before settling down with the first attractive girl that shows you some interest.