Kansas rewards Leipold with extension through 2027 season

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas added an additional year to football coach Lance Leipold‘s contract Thursday that will keep him on the sideline through the 2027 season, a reward for a two-win first year that raised hopes for a long-awaited turnaround.

Leipold was hired last year, shortly after the Jayhawks parted with Les Miles following a winless season and amid sexual harassment allegations from his time at LSU. And despite never having an opportunity to put together a full recruiting class or working with his team in spring football, Leipold’s progress was evident in a late-season upset of Texas.

Leipold’s original contract was a $16.5 million, six-year pact that paid him $2.2 million in its initial season with annual $200,000 increases. He also would earn $50,000 for finishing in the Top 25, earning Big 12 coach of the year or winning seven regular-season games; $75,000 for reaching a certain academic benchmark; $100,000 for qualifying for a bowl game; and $500,000 if the Jayhawks would play for a national title.

“This is a statement about our exceptional confidence in Lance, his outstanding staff and the unlimited potential of Kansas football,” said Jayhawks athletic director Travis Goff, who was hired shortly before he chose Leipold as his coach.

“When you consider he and his staff did not arrive until May (2021), and therefore did not have a chance to coach our guys until August last year, the 2021 season could be considered `Year 0,”‘ Goff explained. “Given the progress that’s been made both on and off the field in such short order, I could not feel more strongly about the trajectory of this program.”

Kansas opens this season Friday night against Tennessee Tech.

Leipold was a popular pick among Kansas fans because of his Midwest pedigree, small-town roots and ability to build a program. He won six Division III national championships in eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, then proved he could win at the Division I level when he spent three years rebuilding Buffalo, followed by three straight bowl games.

Along with upsetting the Longhorns last season, the Jayhawks put a scare into Oklahoma and lost one-possession games to TCU and West Virginia – further evidence that the culture Leipold was trying to build had taken root.

Earlier this week, Leipold showed his affinity for the Jayhawks by announcing an endowment fund established along with his wife to provide financial support for an on-field graduate assistant for the football program.

“It shows, I think, our commitment and our appreciation,” Leipold said. “We’re going to need a lot from everybody and you have to do it yourself sometimes. We’ve tried to do certain things at each stop because we think it’s important. The timing of the year, that didn’t play a part in our thought process at all. We’re just happy we could do it.”

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”