Kansas has hired Buffalo’s Lance Leipold as its next head football coach, the school announced on Friday. This marks the end of a search — the beginning of which spans back to mid-March — for both a new athletic director and head coach. Kansas fired coach Les Miles on March 9 amid allegations of misconduct during his time at LSU. The university then fired athletic director Jeff Long, who hired Miles. Travis Goff, the former deputy AD at Northwestern, was hired to lead Kansas’ athletic department earlier in April.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd confirmed the news of Leipold’s impending hire earlier on Friday.
“I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Coach Leipold, Kelly, Lindsey and Landon to the Jayhawk Family,” said Goff in a statement. “He is a man of integrity, a developer of young men, a program builder and a winner. His track record of sustained excellence is exactly what we were looking for in our next leader, and is what the University of Kansas and our fans deserve. His commitment to maximizing our student-athletes’ abilities and experience on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and in life after KU is inspiring. Those qualities will attract individuals and develop them into exceptional Jayhawks.”
Since Miles’ release, Leipold has been considered one of the top candidates to take over the Jayhawks program, along with Army’s Jeff Monken and Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz. Kansas remains one of the hardest Power Five jobs in the country. It has not enjoyed a winning season since Mark Mangino led the Jayhawks to an 8-5 record in 2008, one year after winning the Orange Bowl. Miles went 3-18 in his two seasons with the Jayhawks.
Taking over a difficult situation isn’t new to Leipold, who has a 37-33 record in six seasons with the Bulls. That by itself doesn’t nearly tell the whole story, however. When Leipold took the Buffalo job following the 2014 season, it was considered one of the hardest gigs in the Football Bowl Subdivision with the program earning just two winning seasons since 2000. By Year 3, Leipold had Buffalo at 6-6. That was followed by two straight bowl appearances in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, Buffalo went 6-1, won the MAC East and was led by running back Jaret Patterson, who was tops in the country with 178.7 yards per game.
Leipold made the massive jump to Buffalo from Division III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he made the national championship game seven times in eight years (2007 – 2014), winning six. Between 2009 and 2011, the Warhawks went 45-0 and won three straight national titles. Hiring a DIII coach, no matter how successful he was, was seen as an unconventional path for Buffalo at the time. Now at Kansas, Leipold will try to conjure up some more program-building magic for a program that desperately needs some.
“I am very thankful to Chancellor Girod and Travis Goff for providing me this opportunity to lead the Kansas Football program. It is an exciting and humbling opportunity, and this is a day I will never forget,” Leipold said. “We are going to build this program through developing players, discipline and determination. The philosophies engrained in our programs along the way will be key as we turn this around. This is a program that has a lot of young talent on the roster and has the infrastructure in place to succeed. The best days for this program are ahead, and my family and I are ecstatic to be a part of it. I am ready to get to work and give everything I have to the Jayhawks.”
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