An odd set of offensive coordinator moves continues, with one Big 12 program losing one of its coordinators to another.
In a press release, Kansas announced that it has hired Doug Meacham as its offensive coordinator. Meacham had spent the past three seasons as one of TCU’s coordinators, sharing the duties with Sonny Cumbie.
In addition to his coordinating responsibilities, Meacham will also handle the Jayhawks wide receivers.
“I am thrilled to be adding someone of the caliber of Doug Meacham to our staff,” said head coach David Beaty in a statement. “Doug is someone I have admired for quite some time for his creativity on the offensive side of the ball. I have had to go up against him several times and it was always a huge challenge because of his ability to direct an offense. I am incredibly thankful to have him on our staff moving forward.”
The move is somewhat of a surprise because, well, it’s still Kansas, as well as the fact that Meacham has turned down “better” jobs in the past. It does, though, continue a surprising trend in the profession.
Just last night, Brett Lashlee left as the offensive coordinator at Auburn for the same job at UConn. A week ago, Tennessee coordinator Mike DeBord fled for Indiana in the same capacity. The man Meacham replaced, Rob Likens, “voluntarily” vacated his role in Lawrence to take the wide receivers coach position at Arizona State.
Kansas’ quarterback room will have a decidedly different look when spring practice opens in a couple of months.
Rumors swirled earlier in the day Wednesday that Ryan Willis had decided to transfer from Kansas. A few hours later, the quarterback not only confirmed he was transferring but also announced a destination — Virginia Tech.
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Willis informed KU head coach David Beaty of his decision during a phone call Wednesday night.
In transferring to Tech, Willis will be forced to sit out the 2017 season. He would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Willis started two games this past season; after throwing three interceptions in each of those mid-October starts, Willis was benched and never played another down for the Jayhawks. In his first season in Lawrence in 2015, Willis set a KU freshman record by throwing for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Carter Stanley took over as the starter for the three last games of the 2016 season and is pencilled in as the starter heading into the offseason. KU also added Peyton Bender, a transfer from Washington State by way of the junior college ranks who’s eligible to play immediately in 2017.
Here’s something you don’t see very often.
Rob Likens has spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Kansas. Tuesday, Arizona State announced that it has added Likens to Todd Graham‘s coaching staff — as wide receivers coach. Likens will also serve as the Sun Devils’ passing-game coordinator.
Chad Lindsey will continue on as ASU’s offensive coordinator. Lindsey’s position coach in college? Likens.
Likens will replace Jay Norvell, who left earlier this month to become the head coach at Nevada.
“Rob brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our staff,” Graham said in a statement. “He will work with Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Chip Lindsey with the coordination of our passing game. Rob has developed a long list of wide receivers in his career, seven of which are currently in the NFL and I look forward to him working with our special group. I’m excited about his Pac-12 Conference experience at Cal and his familiarity with the league.”
“Rob has an unmatched passion and enthusiasm for coaching and mentoring young men that is unparalleled,” says Lindsey. “He brings an energy to our coaching staff, both on the field and in recruiting. His track record in developing receivers is very impressive. We have collaborated over the years on many occasions.
Likens also brings Pac-12 experience to ASU, having served as an assistant at Cal in 2013 and 2014 before moving on to Kansas. The job with the Golden Bears marked his first t a Power Five football program.
“When I was at Cal, ASU was a school that I viewed as a place I would like to work someday,” Likens said. “It’s an elite program with great people, brand new facilities and its all part of a world-class university. I will have the opportunity to work with Chip, whom I believe is one of the brightest young offensive coaches in the nation. And when I met with Coach Graham and heard his vision for the program and especially for the development of young men I was completely on board. I can’t wait to get there to begin recruiting and work with the players.”
A little over three weeks after verbally committing to Kansas, Peyton Bender has put his signature where his mouth is.
On the first day of the recruiting calendar junior college prospects can sign, Bender officially gave the Jayhawks his Herbie Hancock on a Letter of Intent. The quarterback will b eligible to play this season, and will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.
In June of this year, Bender was ruled academically ineligible at Washington State for the entire 2016 season. He subsequently moved on from Wazzu to Itawamba Community College.
Bender spent the 2015 season as Luke Falk’s primary backup. Because of an injury to the starter, Bender started the Apple Cup loss to Washington in late November. He was also forced into action in two other games because of injuries to Falk.
All told, Bender completed 53-of-91 passes for 498 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in five games last season. 288 of the yards came in the rivalry loss to close out the regular season.
The Big 12 pulled back the curtain on the 2017 conference schedule, a nine-game conference scheduling format now complete with a conference championship game. The 2017 Big 12 schedule has set the date for the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday, December 2.
Because the Big 12 does not have a division format, the Big 12 will place the top two teams in conference play in the conference championship game, which will return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium will host the Big 12 title game through 2021). So, if this model was in place for the 2016 season, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have played two weeks in a row. The Sooners and Cowboys played the regular season finale in a de facto Big 12 championship game as the top two teams in the Big 12, which Oklahoma won. So the Sooners would have had to win the outright regular season championship and then beat the same team once more the following week in order to officially be crowned Big 12 champion. But hey, one true champion. Right?
Some notes from the Big 12 conference schedule for 2017:
- Big 12 play opens on September 23 with West Virginia at Kansas, Oklahoma at Baylor and TCU at Oklahoma State
- Oklahoma-Texas is on October 14
- Texas vs. Baylor on October 28 (New coaches Tom Herman vs. Matt Rhule for the first time since 2015 AAC Championship Game)
- Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State on November 4. No more Bedlam in the final game of the season? Boo.
- Texas vs. Kansas on November 11. The extremely rare revenge game for the Longhorns.
- Oklahoma vs. West Virginia on November 25.
You can see and review the entire 2017 Big 12 schedule HERE. Once TV partners start to get involved, some dates are likely to change once games are selected for Thursday or Friday night broadcasts.