Two of the most celebrated coaches in college football find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Let’s start in Lawrence, where the Les Miles era is set to begin at Kansas. The former national title winner takes over a Jayhawks program that finished 10th out of 10 teams in the Big 12 Conference preseason media poll. It’s no surprise for KU. Heck, the Jayhawks have been picked to finish dead last 9 straight years. Only once during that time – in 2014 – did the Hawks prove the pollsters wrong by finishing 9th.
The news is similar down the road in Manhattan, where Chris Klieman begins his reign at Kansas State. The Wildcats are uncharacteristically predicted to finish 9th. In five seasons as a head coach at FCS power North Dakota State, Klieman won 69 games and four national championships. His only losing season as a head coach came at Division 3 Loras College back in 2005.
Truth be told, only three coaches have been successful in the Sunflower State since the late 80’s. Glen Mason and Mark Mangino had great runs at KU. Meanwhile, only Bill Snyder figured out how to win at KSU. The list of failures is much longer. Terry Allen, Ron Prince, Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beaty were all fired after short stints in the heartland.
How long will Miles and Klieman last? Good question. The longer their tenures, the more likely college football in the state of Kansas will be relevant. For all of our sake, here’s hoping there’s no repeat of that classic 1987 Toilet Bowl tie anytime soon.