LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas defensive line coach Kwahn Drake and cornerback coach Chevis Jackson were fired Monday, two days after the Jayhawks finished their first season under Lance Leipold with a competitive loss to bowl-bound West Virginia.
Jordan Peterson and Taiwo Onatolu were promoted to fill their roles after spending the season as senior analysts.
Drake and Jackson were hired at Kansas by former coach Les Miles, who mutually parted with the school earlier this year following a sexual harassment scandal at LSU, his former school. Drake and Jackson were then retained by Leipold, whose hiring at an odd time of the year forced him to cobble together a coaching staff in short order.
Onatolu followed Leipold from Buffalo, where he spent six seasons as the director of player personnel and assistant coach for defensive ends, cornerbacks and special teams. He’s also spent time at Missouri State and Nebraska-Omaha.
Peterson coached the safeties for Miles last season, then served as interim defensive coordinator for the final game of the season against Texas Tech. He also has served three seasons as defensive coordinator at New Mexico, coached defensive backs and linebackers at Fresno State and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Texas A&M.
“Taiwo contributed greatly to our success at Buffalo and will thrive in this new role,” Leipold said. “Jordan has a proven track record as a player and coach, and I am confident his experiences will elevate our secondary and our program.”
The Jayhawks only won two games last season, including one against lower-level South Dakota, but they showed more competitiveness under Leipold than they had under Miles and former coaches Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beaty.
They took then-No. 3 Oklahoma deep into the second half in a 35-23 loss in Norman, then upset Texas three weeks later in Austin when walk-on tight end Jared Casey caught a two-point conversion pass in overtime. The Jayhawks lost to TCU by a field goal on the road the next week, then ended the season with a 34-28 loss to West Virginia.
“I think consistently people have seen that we’ve improved as a football program. That said, we have a lot to work on yet,” Leipold said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to make ourselves a better football team. I think obviously through the course of time, you didn’t get a chance to really evaluate your needs. I think I’ve kind of come to light of areas that we have to get better and we’ll work on addressing that in many different ways.”
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