- The KU Hearings
- Hearing 🆕 The Inside Story of Kansas Keeping Leipold
Hearing 🆕 The Inside Story of Kansas Keeping Leipold
Breaking it all down 😅
The last 48 hours of Leipold and the Washington job
Quick takes from the Leipold-UW saga
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EVERYTHING IN THIS NEWSLETTER IS BASED UPON WHAT I AM HEARING FROM PEOPLE I TRUST. PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR FACT OR FOR ACTUAL JOURNALISM, WHICH HAS VERIFICATION STANDARDS THAT I HAVE NOT ADHERED TO. I DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY OF THE CONTENT.
Breaking Down the Last 48 Hours of Lance Leipold and Washington
Whether Washington officially offered Lance Leipold or not is semantics. The Huskies wanted KU’s coach. And Leipold didn’t say no until the very end. I’m confident in that. So yeah, tweets worded like this were quite the spin from ESPN.
As Washington courted Leipold, I Heard stories of stress, confusion, confidence, and leverage in the painful few days of the Huskies’ head coaching search. Ultimately, this could be THE program-defining moment for Kansas football.
Here’s how it played out the last 48 hours.
Friday, Jan 12:
Lance Leipold is on almost every list for the Washington head coaching job after Alabama hired UW coach Kalen DeBoer. And there’s a good reason Leipold is listed. It’s not a bluff.
I Hear there’s some preliminary interest between both parties. This means Leipold has interest in learning more about Washington and vice versa. Obviously, my antenna goes up at this time. I didn’t report that exact language for a few reasons.
I’m also Hearing KU would be pretty shocked if Leipold turned around and left for Washington. The Jayhawks and Leipold have been negotiating a new contract for quite some time.. and it was hard to picture Leipold leaving with half a stadium standing. Frankly, it would’ve been an all-time snaking by a coach. That doesn’t seem like Leipold.
“Preliminary” interest is expected. Washington is a Big Ten school just in the National Championship Game — AND Leipold is trying to land a new contract with KU. So, yeah, he was taking the call.
It was tough to figure out how much of this was a leverage play by Leipold’s agent vs. genuine interest. Ultimately, it was probably a bit of both, as I’ll explain later in this story.
At the time, I didn’t know that Washington’s NIL program is outperforming KU’s for football. It seems clear to me now that Leipold wanted some assurances that Kansas could step its game up in the NIL space. If he’s gonna stay, he wants to know he can win at a high level.
That didn’t mean KU was in the clear. It still had to land those assurances.
I sent the following Scoops Text @ 6:30pm CT:
Saturday Afternoon & Evening, Jan 13:
I’m Hearing Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch is Washington’s top candidate throughout the day.
That night, the Seattle Times reports Washington is down to three final candidates and hopes to announce a new coach in 48 hours. The name is likely going to leak well before then. I didn’t Hear much concern on KU’s side during the afternoon, though that would soon change.
Here’s what I sent out:
Late Saturday Night, Jan 13
This is where the chaos starts to build.
KU starts getting worried. Leipold is taking a more serious look at the job than originally anticipated. To me, this means he’s in the “final three.”
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman removes himself from the search around this time. I don’t believe any offer went to Klieman, or that he was UW’s top choice. I don’t think his conversation with UW went that far.
My understanding is while Travis Goff was concerned, he wasn’t necessarily panicked. I know that’s a weird framing, but Leipold is clearly in the running late in UW’s search, which is worthy of major concern. Still, would Leipold really leave for Washington with a half-built stadium and a great roster? It doesn’t totally add up. I think KU has a hard time believing it, but the longer it waits, the more it sweats.
Kansas continues to reiterate two things in its talks with Leipold:
1) Next season’s roster is loaded. The Jayhawks will be one of the Big 12 favorites and have a shot at the 12-Team College Football Playoff.
2) After next year, KU will have a really nice and new football stadium ready to go. It’s a good pitch from KU. But ultimately, it’s gonna come down to where Leipold believes he has the best chance to win. That means NIL.
Kansas ends the night without knowing whether or not Leipold will be its head coach to end the next day.
Sunday, Jan 14
Washington is closing in on a coach and all hell breaks loose.
It’s out of KU’s hands at this point. Leipold’s name makes the rounds as the top candidate for Washington all over Twitter.
It’s hard to sort through the leverage game when I don’t have sources around Washington. Anything getting to me at this point is intentional, so I have to be careful about taking it as fact…
I quickly sent out the following two messages (nailed the Fisch one, by the way. He wasn’t in the best position, but he was always the most likely answer for Washington):
Now, it reaches the breaking point.
Shortly after the texts above, word leaks that Leipold is Washington’s top choice.
Oddly, around this time, there’s a sense of relief around Kansas players. I’ve Heard they received messaging to ignore what they see on Twitter. Again, I’m not sure how legitimate it was at the time. I now come to understand it as accurate.
FootballScoop, the industry leader in football coach news, reports Lance Leipold “emerges at center of Washington search.” This language typically means an offer is going out, or negotiations are taking place with a coach.
It looks like Leipold is going to Washington, though I never hear that it’s actually happening.
Just nine minutes later, Leipold sends The Tweet Heard ‘Round KU’s World.
The guys come back to campus tomorrow. Can’t wait to get back to work with them in ‘24!!
— Lance Leipold (@CoachLeipold)
Jan 14, 2024
This doesn’t all change in nine minutes. I promise, it takes longer for FootballScoop to write its article than it did for Leipold to send the Tweet above. KU spends all morning with the reality that Washington wants Leipold.
Everything I hear is that the final discussions come down to pieces like NIL, not Leipold’s salary (though he’s still getting a massive raise). It seems the belief that Leipold wanted to stay was accurate.
I Hear words like “survived” and “relieved” when describing KU’s mood Sunday afternoon after it was all over. That’s how serious this was.
We good? Always.
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Quick Takes from KU’s Leipold and Washington Saga
Leipold wasn’t messing around with this one. It was a serious situation.
I do think Leipold wanted to stay at Kansas. He means what he’s said. But he wanted to make sure he can win at Kansas above all else.
Leipold got a good look at Washington’s NIL situation. I think he knows where KU needs to be more clearly than before.
At the same time, how many times is KU gonna have to go through something like this? I’ll probably elaborate further via a column soon.
The Jayhawks believe they’re good for this coaching cycle. Which means, in theory.. they won’t have to worry about the tweet below.
I’m still waiting to see KU announce this extension its been working on for a month or two with Leipold. Hopefully we see it soon.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is meeting later today with the Los Angeles Chargers in his first interview of this hiring cycle, per league sources.
A decision is not expected to be imminent for either side. Harbaugh will be deliberate with any decision he makes about his… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)
Jan 15, 2024
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