As he was officially introduced as the new football coach at the University of Kansas on Monday morning, Lance Leipold made clear that stability has been the main detriment to the program’s lack of success over the past 12 seasons.
His goal, more than just winning games, he said, is to finally provide that stability for a program that’s now seen five head coaches come and go since the 2009 season.
“The biggest thing that I’ve been able to research is the potential and what a great place this is, what a great university this is, what a great community it is,” Leipold said in his introductory press conference. “But the one thing that stands out on the surface that has held it back is just stability, consistency, continuity.
“Those are the things that we talked about with (Athletics Director) Travis (Goff) through this process,” he continued. “I’m not a guy that’s moved around a lot (in my career) and this is the place I want to be for a very, very long time.”
Goff, who took over as KU’s director of athletics in April, heaped praise on Leipold during Monday’s press conference. A winner of six Division III national championships at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater — and more recently the head coach for six seasons at the University of Buffalo in which he went 24-10 over the most recent three seasons — Goff said Leipold is exactly what KU’s football program needs at this point in time.
“We needed to find a program builder who’s had a demonstrated track record in developing successful, sustained football programs … On Friday, we got our guy,” Goff said. “The ideal fit, the ideal next leader for Kansas football. one of the winningest head football coaches in college football history, a man of great integrity, a program builder, a developer of young men, and a winner.”
“His demonstrated track record of sustained excellence is exactly what we need as we embark on this exciting new chapter,” Goff continued.
Asked Monday what would constitute a successful first season at the helm of the Jayhawks football program, Leipold didn’t quite put a number on it in terms of wins and losses. It’s more of an initial focus toward daily improvement, he said.
“When people say success, it’s going to be daily improvement. When we continue to go through the daily process of improvement and establishing what we want to be, the wins and losses are going to take care of themselves,” he said. “The goal is to win championships, pure and simple. One day at a time. Become a consistent winner, attention to detail, do it with great energy, passion and effort,” Leipold said.
To be hired as a football coach in one of the top conferences in the NCAA after spring practices have already concluded is outside the norm. Leipold watched much of the KU spring game on Saturday from the media suites at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, and hasn’t yet had much time to get to know the players he’s tasked with coaching in just a few short months.
“This is a unique situation, we all know that. Timing is definitely different than what is the norm, but as we get ready to work with these young men, those things will start taking place and I’m very confident that you’re going to see consistency and improvement throughout the season,” he said.
“(Building a winning football program is) not overly complicated. It’s going to take some work, and we started some of those processes now and we’ll continue as soon as we complete this press conference today,” Leipold added.
Goff didn’t address the myriad issues with past football coaching hires that led KU to post a 21-108 record since the 2009 season, saying only that it does little good to dwell on the past. All he, the athletics department, and the KU community in general can do is move forward.
“All I can say to our Jayhawk fans, our Jayhawk faithful, is we’ve got the right guy. Get on board with us,” he said. “To build this thing in the right manner, it’s not one man that gets that done, it’s an entire university community.”