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Following their 55-14 loss to the hands of Kansas State, the Kansas Jayhawks are now 3-14 since Les Miles took over the program prior to the 2019 season.
In the Big 12 alone, the Jayhawks have just one win under Miles. That was a 37-34 victory over Texas Tech in 2019.
Kansas has lost its conference games by an average margin of 24 points. On offense in 2020, the Jayhawks have averaged just 15 points per game.
These problems, however, are not exclusive to Miles. The Jayhawks were bad before Miles took over, especially under David Beaty. Beaty served as the Kansas head coach from 2015 to 2018, winning just six of his 48 games.
The Sunshine Rivalry against Kansas State has become less of a rivalry and more a massacre. The Jayhawks last defeated Kansas State in 2008 and have lost the last 12 by an average margin of 27 points. Since the turn of the century, the Jayhawks have won just four of the annual match-ups.
There simply does not seem to be an answer for Kansas. Known more for its success in men’s basketball, the football program has since fallen to the wayside. The team’s recruiting has taken a significant hit and the program, by all accounts, is dead upon arrival for any normal head coach.
The solution for this existent problem, however, lies in an outside the box hire. Should Kansas athletic director Jeff Long want to find success on the field, the Jayhawks would be best to abandon all normal avenues of thinking.
It’s time for Kansas to switch to a triple option offense.
The Problems in Recruiting
Kansas faces a problem that is all too familiar for smaller Power 5 schools and Group of 5 schools across the nation in recruiting.
Surrounded by Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado, the Jayhawks often lose top recruits to schools in these neighboring states. Without the ability to convince top-ranked players to commit, Kansas is forced to fight for scraps, leaving it with less talent than its Big 12 counterparts.
Miles has attempted to remedy this problem by moving into Florida. Florida however, presents its own challenges for any program. Not only is Kansas fighting with the top Florida teams for these recruits, but the Jayhawks may also face competition from the Florida Group of 5 programs who hold further relationships with these head coaches and put together a better product on the field.
Schools like UCF and Florida Atlantic have also enjoyed significant football success in recent years. South Florida finished ranked as recently in 2017. Florida International, under head coach Butch Davis, has made three consecutive bowl games. Kansas has not made a bowl game since 2008.
In 2019 and 2020, the Jayhawks’ recruiting classes ranked 70th and 56th*, respectively. In the Big 12, the two recruiting classes have sat dead last in the conference.
Jeff Monken – The New Man in Charge?
Kansas’ best chance to solve these problems is to switch to the triple option. Few men in college football are better at coaching the triple option than Army head coach Jeff Monken.
Since taking over as the Black Knights’ head coach in 2014, Monken has posted a 46-37 record with three wins in bowl games. In 2017, Monken posted the first 10-win season at West Point since 1996, when Bob Sutton took the Black Knights to a 10-2 record.
Monken was worked with the triple option for most of his coaching career. In his brief tenure at Hawaii as a graduate assistant, Monken served under Paul Johnson. Monken would also work under Johnson at Navy, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech.
A move to Kansas would present Monken with increased opportunity. Coaching against Big 12 programs would give Monken a chance to improve his coaching legacy and potentially grant Monken a chance to continue to rise up the ranks.
Kansas can not continue to operate as normal teams. With the significant disadvantages in recruiting, the Jayhawks simply won’t be able to outrun or out-talent the top teams in the Big 12 that they’ll have to face on a yearly basis.
Facing similar limitations, Georgia Tech switched to the triple option in 2008 under Johnson and saw immediate success from the decision. In 2009, Johnson led Georgia Tech to double-digit wins for the first time since 1998 and its first ACC title in 19 years. Johnson finished his Yellow Jackets tenure with an 82-61 record, winning the ACC Coastal division three different times.
Monken would present the Jayhawks with an opportunity to do similar. Operating outside the box gives the Jayhawks a chance to recruit underrated prospects with certain traits instead of certain talents. The inherent advantage would potentially come on the field, where the Jayhawks would be a threat on any given Saturday.
*247Sports Composite rankings