Tulane extends Willie Fritz through 2023
Major news on the Kansas football front came down the pike Tuesday when Tulane announced it has extended head coach Willie Fritz through 2023.
Wait, what? Let’s back up a bit.
Kansas fired AD Sheahon Zenger on Monday, citing that a “change in leadership is necessary” because “progress in key areas has been elusive.” While Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod did not come out and say this move was related to football, he did feel the need to mention head coach David Beaty in his release announcing Zenger’s firing. “In addition, earlier today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod said.
It doesn’t take Leonardo DiCaprio to read Girod’s thoughts here. Beaty is 3-33 in three seasons as KU’s head coach, including a 1-26 mark in Big 12 play. Coaches that average a win a year don’t typically last until Year 5. Just last year, Nebraska cleared out its AD so the new AD could fire the existing football coach and hire a new one, and it appears Kansas is headed down the same path later this year.
With Beaty apparently on his way out, I tweeted on Monday where Kansas should direct its incoming search.
If the new AD chooses to move on from David Beaty, Kansas's next search should begin and end with Willie Fritz.— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) May 21, 2018
Fritz-to-Kansas makes sense on a number of levels. Fritz is a proven program builder, a more-with-less guy that won at Blinn Junior College, Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and, now, Tulane. Overall, Fritz is 202-89-1 with two junior college national titles and conference championships in three separate leagues -- all at places that have no business posting a collective .693 winning percentage. Simply put, Kansas is the rebuild job of the century, and there is not a more proven general contractor than Fritz.
And even better for Kansas, Fritz seems likely to take the job. He’s a Sunflower State native and at an age -- 58 -- where he’d likely take any Power 5 job offer that came his way, lest it be the last one.
All that said, it did not seem a coincidence that Tulane announced an extension for Fritz on Tuesday, who is 9-15 in two seasons with the Green Wave.
“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction in which our football program is headed,” Fritz said in a statement. “It is an absolute joy to coach at this institution. We have total buy-in from everyone on our staff to our administration, and I know we have a bright future.”
With Tulane being a private school, financial terms were not disclosed, but the key number will be the buyout.
Of course, Fritz could also pass on a potential Kansas offer. Or he may not get an offer. Or the job may not open at all. But even the prospect of an offer has already turned into a win for him.