Kansas football head coach Lance Leipold is set to lose one of his closest and most talented assistant coaches as KU offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki has reportedly accepted the offensive coordinator job at Penn State under head coach James Franklin.
The news was first reported today by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and sent several KU fans spiraling on social media – and understandably so.
It’s no secret that Kotelnicki and the potent offensive system he’s brought to Kansas is a big reason for the program’s turnaround these past two years. It’s a system that’s allowed players like Jalon Daniels, Jason Bean, Devin Neal and others to flourish and put up points with some of the best teams in the Big 12 Conference.
This season, KU ranks 26th in the nation in points per game (32.3). Last season the Jayhawks were 22nd with 33.9 points per game.
It’s a big loss for the Kansas program, but it’s a loss that was bound to happen at some point.
It’s rare for a coordinator in today’s day and age of college football to have the kind of success Kotelnicki has had and remain at his current school. Granted, those coordinators typically are taking head coaching jobs instead of moving laterally, but it’s not hard to understand why Kotelnicki made the move.
Penn State is the bigger, better football program and has been for decades – that’s obvious. If Kotelnicki is able to have success there, he’s going to easily be able to parlay that into a head coaching opportunity – one at the Power 5 level. I’m not sure you can say the same if he were to remain at Kansas.
Could he have gotten a head coaching job eventually if he stayed at Kansas and continued to have success? Absolutely. But because KU isn’t the established program like Penn State is, it’s unlikely that job offer would have come from a Power 5 school, at least not as quickly as it might come if he has success at Penn State.
It’s a good career move for Kotelnicki and fans should be appreciative of all the success he brough to the KU program in a short amount of time. Most importantly, the program remains in good hands with Lance Leipold and newly named co-offensive coordinator Jim Zebrowski.
Zebrowski, the former KU quarterbacks coach, was promoted today in light of the Kotelnicki news. After seeing the job he’s done with Daniels and Bean the past two seasons and the history he has with Leipold dating back to their days at Wisconsin-Whitewater and Buffalo, it was a no-brainer move to make and one that should keep this KU offense rolling.
Zebrowski served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater from 2007-09 when the Warhawks went 42-3 and won two Division III national championships. Zebrowski also served on Leipold’s staff at Buffalo from 2017-2020 when the Bulls went to three bowl games and won two of them.
It’s unclear exactly how the play-calling will be handled for KU’s upcoming bowl game, but with Zebrowski staying on board and the veterans that KU has on offense, don’t expect them to miss a beat no matter who the opponent ends up being.