Kansas fired head coach Charlie Weis Sunday after a rocky tenure in Lawrence, leaving the former Notre Dame head coach with a 6-22 record in his time with the Jayhawks. It's one of the toughest jobs in the major conferences -- they've only made consecutive bowl games once in 123 years of football, and the state isn't exactly known for producing top-tier talent -- but someone's gonna get an opportunity.
So who will it be? Let's break down some of the most likely candidates:
Tim Beck: Offensive coordinator, Nebraska
A former high school coach in Texas, Beck's recruiting ties in Big 12 country make him a strong candidate. While with the Cornhuskers, he's brought in high-value recruits from the Lone Star State and Heisman contender Ameer Abdullah from Alabama, according to Rivals. And before being hired by Nebraska in 2008, he was the wide receivers coach at Kansas for three seasons.
The Cornhuskers' offense hasn't been consistent -- in his three years, they've ranked 37th, 8th and 46th, respectively, in offensive S&P+ -- but they've won at least nine games in each year he's been with the program.
Why it could work: Beck has ties to the program and the conference, and was the passing game coordinator for the Jayhawks' historic 2007 Orange Bowl season.
Why it might not: Beck's offenses and recruiting have been just fine at Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers haven't quite been able to make it over the nine-win hump.
Phil Bennett: Defensive coordinator, Baylor
A Texas native and former head coach with SMU (posting a record of 18-52), Bennett has worked at nearly every Big 12 team other than Kansas, with defensive coordinator stints at Iowa State, TCU, Kansas State, and Baylor (as well as a one-year position as Oklahoma's defensive backs coach). He's been a major part of the Bears' renaissance under Art Briles, and is perhaps the most experienced candidate on this list.
Under Bennett, Baylor's defense have ranked 95th, 60th and 21st, respectively, in defensive S&P+. This season, they rank 10th through four games.
Why it could work: Bennett has ties to the area, vast experience in the conference and has brought yearly improvement to the Bears' defense.
Why it might not: That awful, awful head coaching record is hard to ignore.
Phillip Montgomery: Offensive coordinator, Baylor
Montgomery has been with head coach Art Briles for 16 years, dating all the way back to their time at Stephenville (Texas) High School. He's helped produce star players like Robert Griffin III and Bryce Petty and would bring a different level of excitement to the Kansas program.
Under Montgomery, Baylor's offenses have ranked within the top 20 nationally in offensive S&P+ in each of the past four seasons, including two appearances in the top five. This season, the Bears' offense ranks second.
Why it could work: He's one of the game's brightest offensive minds, and has experience working in the Big 12 and recruiting in Texas.
Why it might not: Montgomery is notoriously private, and may not want to leave his profitable partnership with Briles for such a risky job.
Brent Venables: Defensive coordinator, Clemson
A Kansas native, Venables played at Kansas State under Bill Snyder, later joining his staff as a linebackers coach. He first rose to national prominence as an assistant coach at Oklahoma, serving as the team's defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011 and hearing his name mentioned in a number of coaching search rumors. Venables was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2006, and left for the same position at Clemson prior to the 2012 season.
With the Tigers, Venables took a unit ranked 73rd in the nation in defensive S&P+ in 2011 and immediately brought it up to 34th. Last season, the Tigers ranked 12th. He's also known as one of the top recruiters in the nation, bringing in a number of blue-chip prospects to both Oklahoma and Clemson.
Why it could work: He's from the state and has almost two decades of experience coaching and recruiting in the Big 12.
Why it might not: Like Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Venables could be in line for bigger jobs. And KU fans might worry he'd eye the job at his alma mater across the state, with Snyder likely leaving in the next few years.
Ed Orgeron: Unemployed
Orgeron may have zero coaching experience within the Big 12, but the boisterous Louisiana native is one of college football's most highly regarded recruiters. He's also coming off a successful stint as USC's interim head coach, leading the Trojans to a 6-2 record after a disastrous start to the season under Lane Kiffin.
The coach was approached by FCS Nicholls State earlier this offseason to take their head coaching position, but passed, perhaps to wait on a bigger opportunity. It's hard to think of a bigger one that will come along than a power-conference program, but Orgeron's disastrous three-year stint at Ole Miss still weighs heavy on the minds of bigger schools.
Why it could work: Orgeron is definitely available and would quite be the biggest splash hire the Jayhawks could realistically make.
Why it might not: That 10-25 mark at Ole Miss still keeps many suitors far, far away.
David Beaty: Wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator, Texas A&M
Perhaps the best recruiter in Texas, Beaty has been instrumental in A&M's destruction of the Longhorns for in-state recruits. Per Rivals, he's secured commitments from five-star quarterback Kyler Murray, five-star defensive end Myles Garrett, five-star wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, and Heisman candidate Kenny Hill. The Aggies have also produced high-quality wide receivers during Beaty's time, including first round NFL Draft pick Mike Evans.
Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, ESPN's Travis Haney, 247Sports' Kevin Flaherty, and KU Sports' Matt Tait all consider the former Texas high school coach a top candidate.
Sound ideal? There's more: before his time with the Aggies, Beaty was the Jayhawks' co-offensive coordinator in 2011 and their wide receivers coach from 2008-09.
Why it could work: Beaty's done a phenomenal job on the recruiting trail and has ties to the program.
Why it might not: That Kansas team he co-coordinated? Ninety-fourth in the nation in offensive S&P+. His only other coordinating gig, at Rice in 2010, was even worse, ranking 101st.
Who do Kansas fans want?
Who do Kansas fans want?
Clint Bowen: Interim head coach, Kansas
Bowen will have a chance to prove himself, taking over for Weis until the Jayhawks can find a permanent coach. A former star defensive back for Kansas, Bowen is a local guy who grew up rooting for and eventually playing for the Jayhawks. He was first hired as an assistant coach for the school in 2000, moving around a number of positional units before becoming the co-defensive coordinator in 2007.
That year, the Jayhawks posted the fourth-best defense in the nation, according to defensive S&P+. Bowen took over as the lone defensive coordinator in 2008, and the unit fell to 45th nationally. The defense was even worse the next year, and he left for unsuccessful one-year stints with Western Kentucky and North Texas before returning to Lawrence in 2012.
Why it could work: Bowen has a passion for the program and would be the cheapest possible option.
Why it might not: His most notable success as a coach came as a co-defensive coordinator, and he has yet to have a well-performing unit under his sole control.
Scott Frost: Offensive coordinator, Oregon
Names I've heard Kansas' AD has looked into include Scott Frost and Pat Narduzzi. Aiming in the right direction— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) September 28, 2014
A former star quarterback for Nebraska, Frost has gained quick acclaim. In 2013, his first year as offensive coordinator for the Ducks, Oregon ranked seventh in the nation in offensive S&P+, finishing with a top-10 ranking after an Alamo Bowl beatdown of Texas. After the departure of Chip Kelly to the NFL, Frost helped lead the new-look Ducks to the same-old result -- a program record in total offense.
Before his promotion to offensive coordinator, Frost was the team's wide receiver coach, and has brought in a number of blue-chip recruits. Four-star running back Josh Huff committed to Frost and Oregon out of Texas, as did four-star wide receiver Bralon Addison
Why it could work: Bringing in an offensive mind like Frost would bring attention to the program, and he's been able to recruit well in Texas even from afar.
Why it might not: Frost is still new to big-time coaching, and this would be a significant leap for his career.
Pat Narduzzi: Defensive coordinator, Michigan State
Narduzzi's defensive units at Michigan State have been suffocating, helping lead the Spartans to eight straight bowl games and two Big Ten Championship games. They're heavy favorites to win the conference again this season, in no small part due to Narduzzi's ability to identify defensive talent and reload.
He doesn't just have one of the game's top defenses -- Narduzzi can recruit, too. He landed four-star Ohio running back Larry Scott back in July, and also brought in Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook, and William Gholston, among others.
Why it could work: Narduzzi is one of the game's top defensive minds, and has shown an uncanny ability to identify talent -- something that would come into use when trying to find players in Kansas.
Why it might not: Narduzzi withdrew from UConn's coaching search last offseason, so he's in no hurry to leave. This isn't a premium job, so he might just wait around for a better one.