Zenger rarely spoke publicly about the job search, preferring to keep his cards close to the vest. It was rumored that he was interested in longtime friend Mike Leach, who decided to return to coaching at Washington State, along with coaches like Kevin Sumlin at Houston and Larry Fedora at Southern Miss. Established assistants like Gus Malzahn also were rumored to be in the running.
In the end, Zenger’s first major hire since arriving at Kansas turns out to be someone whose stock has suffered since his difficult tenure in South Bend.
“We hired a guy that has an unbelievable resume and has experienced success at the highest levels,” Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said. “He’s been a coach for a long time and obviously has a great mind. I think this is one that will definitely ripple waters in our league.”
Of course, expectations will be modest at Kansas.
The Jayhawks beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in 2007, but for the most part the program has had a bleak history. Mark Mangino was considered extremely successful despite going just 49-48 during seven seasons in charge, and he left Kansas in shambles.
Gill struggled mightily, going 3-9 in his first season and 2-10 this past season.
Weis will have some talented players to build around, particularly on offense, where a young stable of running backs showed promise. But his offenses have also been built around the quarterback, and sophomore Jordan Webb struggled with consistency much of the season.
It’s unclear whether Weis will attempt to get Dayne Crist to come to Kansas. The quarterback was recruited to Notre Dame by Weis, but fell out of favor with his successor, Brian Kelly. Crist has already announced he’s leaving Notre Dame, and because he is graduating, he’ll be eligible to play right away. He has one year of eligibility left.
Weis was hired away from the Chiefs by Muschamp, whose forte is defense, with the hope that he could take some of the pressure off the first-year head coach. But the Gators finished eighth in the league in offense, averaging 334.2 yards per game, and were stifled by the SEC’s best defenses.
The Gators lost 38-10 to Alabama, 41-11 to LSU and 17-6 to Auburn in consecutive weeks on their way to a 6-6 finish. Florida will play Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, though Weis will not be involved.
“Charlie did a good job,” Muschamp said late Thursday. “It’s a great compliment to our staff. We’ve had numerous schools contact me about prospective coaches on our staff, and for him to have the opportunity to be a head coach again, I know he’s really excited about it.”
AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., contributed to this report.