Somehow, someway, the 2021 coaching carousel is not yet over, and for good reason too. Les Miles should have never been hired by Kansas, and should have been fired by LSU in 2013 for cause, like AD Joe Alleva wanted. But, why Miles is out at Kansas is not the point here. The point is that a Power Five team needs a new head coach, and names are being thrown around them. Among those names, Willie Fritz has become a popular one to throw around.
Fritz makes a ton of sense for Kansas. He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone for one. From Central Missouri to Sam Houston to Georgia Southern to Tulane he has succeeded everywhere he’s gone. In the case of Tulane, Fritz has overseen a major reclamation project. A historically difficult place to win, Tulane has only been to back-to-back bowl games once. Fritz managed to win two out of three. That’s unheard of success for the Green Wave.
Tulane, being more academically minded than many other FBS programs, along with playing the role of a far off second fiddle in the state of Louisiana behind LSU, has made it difficult to recruit. This is particularly true since they left the SEC and have been playing in smaller conferences and having less money. Fritz has managed to get around these limitations to succeed.
Kansas, in its own right, has limitations too. They’re in scholarship purgatory, where they can only take 25 scholarship players a season, but even taking 25 wouldn’t replenish what they’ve been losing. It’s been a long time since they’ve sniffed a full FBS roster. Kansas itself is also not the most talent rich place to recruit from, but they do have easy access to Texas, which is getting more crowded by teams like UTSA and SMU.
There is also the trope of the basketball school that can’t play football and vice versa. To an extent, it’s true. The pressure is on basketball and that’s where most of the money goes towards at Kansas, but it’s not like these schools don’t want a good football team. They hired former-AD Jeff Long strictly to improve football. He fired David Beatty for cause, despite having no cause, and got dragged through the legal process, then hired Les Miles who went 3-18 before being fired for sexual harassment during his time at LSU. It’s been reported that no one but Miles was interviewed. In other words, Long failed at Kansas. He’s gone now, too. However, what all of this shows is that despite the on field product, Kansas does want to win at football.
So, would Frtiz, a Kansas native, make sense for the Jayhawks? Absolutely. Would Kansas make sense for Willie Fritz, an aging coach who may not get another Power Five shot? Absolutely not.
There are a million reasons not to choose Kansas if you’re Fritz. First, the pay raise, which would absolutely exist, wouldn’t be all that great of one. As of 2019, Fritz was already making $1.6 million, about a million less than Miles was making. Add the cost of multiple buyouts for Kansas, plus the revenue being down due to the pandemic, and the pay raise won’t be all that high.
That’s not enough incentive for a lot of work. He’s going to have to turnover that roster entirely. Recruiting the talent necessary to make Kansas a competent team is going to take at least four seasons. Four seasons is time that Kansas hasn’t shown a willingness to give a coach. Beatty got the can after year four. That’s the most out of any of their last four coaches. The plan for Kansas is long term and they don’t give coaches a long time to fix their roster issues.
Furthermore, it may not be fair to say that just because Fritz is now on the wrong side of 60 that no other P5 job would want him. After all, he isn’t the first name to be thrown around for P5 reclamation project, as he was popular for Arkansas.
It also puts down Tulane to say that he should go to Kansas instead. Right now, Fritz' current team is the better option for long-term success. He has a quarterback for the foreseeable future in Michael Pratt, and recruiting is coming around in a way Tulane has really never seen before.
If this is more than just talk about who might be a good fit, and something Kansas actually wants to do, then Fritz shouldn’t take their call. Why give up living in a New Orleans, competing for a bowl win annually, and working for an elite academic institution to put yourself into a spot where you’re more likely to fail that succeed? Yes, Fritz makes sense for them, but they don’t make sense for him. Of course, who does Kansas make sense for?