LAWRENCE, Kan. — Emmett Jones was picked as the interim football coach at Kansas on Thursday as the beleaguered school searches for a new athletic director and head football coach following a scandal-plagued week.
Jones is entering his third season with the Jayhawks, serving first as the wide receivers coach and most recently as the passing game coordinator. He also has coached at Texas Tech along with several high schools in Texas.
“Emmett’s relationship with our football student-athletes is vital as we venture through this time of transition within our football program and athletics department,” interim athletic director Kurt Watson said in a statement. “I am confident in his abilities to ensure this program functions at a high level in preparation for the 2021 season.”
Watson also interviewed current defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Joshua Eargle and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who had been handling day-to-day duties the past week.
The mess at Kansas began last week with the release of two reviews by LSU conducted by separate law firms into football coach Les Miles, who had been accused by two women of making sexual advances during his tenure leading the Tigers.
Miles was placed on administrative leave before agreeing to a buyout of his contract Monday night.
The following day, then-athletic director Jeff Long defended his hiring of Miles — his friend of 30 years dating to their days together at Michigan — and vowed to conduct the search for his replacement. But after significant backlash from fans and prominent donors, Long met with Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod and submitted his resignation.
Watson was placed in charge of the athletic department while Girod, with the help of a panel of advisers, searches for the next athletic director. Whoever is hired will then handle the search for the next football coach.
Jones is among a few coaches on the staff who will likely be interviewed for the permanent job.
He was the head coach at Texas prep powerhouse South Oak Cliff, and he’s used his connections in the football hotbed to help lure a series of strong recruiting classes to Kansas. Jones has done it without the benefit of a winning tradition, either, let alone much fan support or facilities that would be deemed average by Division I standards.
He also spent time on current Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff at Texas Tech.
“I am incredibly grateful to Chancellor Girod and Mr. Watson for the opportunity to lead this program during a critical time of change,” Jones said. “Since arriving here, I have developed a deep love of this program and university, and it is an honor to be named interim head coach. I will rely on our talented assistant coaches, as well as Ben Iannacchione and the strength and conditioning staff to guide our student-athletes and be there for them on and off the field.”