CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The new outside linebacker coach at Illinois says he hasn’t been contacted by anybody representing his alma mater for their head coach opening.
In his first Zoom media conference since the start of spring practice this week and second media conference since being hired on Bret Bielema’s coaching staff at Illinois, Kevin Kane addressed speculation of his name popping up as a candidate for the current head coach vacancy at Kansas.
“Yeah, you can ask. Shoot, nobody has called me. Nobody has told me anything,” Kane said Friday. “At the time being right now I’m at the University of Illinois and I’m fired up to be here. Nobody has ever talked to me yet so we’ll see what happens but I’m here.”
Multiple outlets immediately included Kane’s name among several possible candidates following the situation at Kansas earlier this month that led to the school parting ways with head coach Les Miles and then doing the same with athletics director Jeff Long just a couple days later.
Currently Kansas is still in search of replacements for both positions and local reporting shows it is still unclear at this time which position Kansas will try to fill first as the university did immediately name Kurt Watson as its interim athletics director.
The Jayhawks program, which has a 21-108 overall record since 2010 and has seen just six conference wins and has been through six head coaches in the last decade, named wide receivers coach Emmett Jones as the interim head coach for spring practices that are scheduled to begin next week.
Kane was announced as the outside linebackers coach/associate head coach in January following three seasons as the defensive coordinator at SMU. Kane, who was an All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention selection as a linebacker at Kansas, helped the Jayhawks to a pair of bowl appearances and graduated from Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. Kane’s coaching career began in 2006 at Kansas, where he spent two seasons as a student assistant for his alma mater under then-head coach Mark Mangino where he was on staff to see the Jayhawks reach the 2008 Orange Bowl.
“Obviously that is your alma mater (and) you want good things to happen for it," Kane said Friday. "When I left the place, we won the Orange Bowl so I've seen it at the all-time high and I've been there for an all-time low as well. So, all of my teammates that I still keep in touch with, we're always saying 'hey, how can it get better and what do we need to do to make it better?' That's your alma mater. You want it to do well.”
Days after having his hiring at Illinois announced, Kane specifically said he hopes this experience working under Bielema’s leadership in Champaign would give him another learning opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
“I felt this was a great opportunity to grow and learn. You know, I have aspirations to be a head coach one day, sure,” Kane said. “I thought this was the right thing to do. I’m at a point in my life where Coach Bielema can help guide me in what I want to get done. I also just think this (Illinois program) is a sleeping giant as well.”
Illinois will have its third spring practice Saturday, which will be the first one in full pads as Kane continues to develop the outside linebackers in the Illini’s defensive scheme change.