Completed chat with Matt Tait, KU football beat writer

January 26, 2012

Matt Tait

Have a question about KU football? Then KU football beat writer Matt Tait is your guy. Matt will be answering reader questions starting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.


Hey, this is Jesse Newell, online editor. We've got KU football beat writer Matt Tait here to answer your questions about KU football. Matt, I'm eating a chocolate chip cookie. Are you eating anything to power you through this chat?

Matt Tait

Sounds good. I downed about a tenth of a bottle of 5-hour Energy, so I should be good to go... Let's roll!!!


Nice. Let's get started.


Have you heard anymore on Brian Wagner, the Akron LB who thought of transferring here?

Matt Tait

Yeah. Wagner committed to Arizona a few weeks back so KU missed out on him. Not the end of the world, but it would've been a nice pick-up. KU's still in the running for Tampa linebacker Schyler Miles, who has narrowed his choices down to Florida, Kansas and West Virginia. He's supposed to decide by Friday but won't announce it until signing day (next Wednesday) so keep an eye on him...


Matt, just wondering if there's any more information available on those leaving the program? Reasons? Where they might end up? What's the deal with Brock B?


Matt Tait

The reasons are all over the map. Some left on good terms and are good with what went down, others are a little bitter, and understandably so. But that's the way these things go and life will go on for everybody...

There's talk that Darrian Miller could end up at Northern Iowa and that's a possible landing spot for Keeston Terry, too. Terry has even talked about heading to Mizzou, but I doubt that will happen.

As for Jordan Webb, I caught up with him briefly the other day and he's doing great. He said he was looking at a bunch of schools and mentioned Colorado State and Wyoming as possible spots. Both would be great places for him to land.

As for Berglund, he'll probably be released by the end of the week and then will move on to a different school. Last time I talked to him, he said he'd still love to play for Turner Gill (at Liberty) but he also mentioned Hawaii and a couple of other places. He'll land somewhere. Too talented not to.


What is the weirdest rumor you've heard about conference realignment (Big 12 specifically)?

Matt Tait

Wow. Good question. The weirdest rumor...... It's not just one, but the fact that a few schools keep being mentioned in terms of Big 12 expansion continues to surprise me.

I'm originally from Ft. Collins, Colo., and I think Colorado State is a great school, but I don't know why for the life of me people would think it would be a good fit in the Big 12. Stuff like that, I guess.

A lot of people are up in arms about Tulane, too. But I don't think that one's quite as big of a reach as CSU.

One other name that popped up last summer was Memphis, which people said could be a Big 12 target because Fed-Ex would be willing to pay big bucks to whatever BCS Conference Memphis winds up in. Maybe, maybe not, but if that's the case, I'm surprised somebody hasn't snagged 'em.

The realignment stuff is never-ending, it seems, but I can tell you that right now, it's pretty quiet and yesterday's "excitement" was a little overblown...


Charlie Weis is attempting to bring in a large number of JUCO kids and transfers to fill out KU's roster. The plain fact is KU has historically had terrible luck (or exercised terrible judgment) in regard to JUCO recruits. Mangino initially tried bringing in a large group of JUCOs and failed miserably. Is there any reason to believe it will turn out differently this time?

Matt Tait

I think so. For starters, Weis is being very selective about the guys he brings in and he's not just picking juco guys to fill spots. Beyond that, Weis is a much bigger name than Mangino and he already is attracting a whole different type of recruit to Kansas.

The thing with juco guys is this - they're not all going to pan out. It just doesn't happen. The key is to get a few of the guys you take to be productive for you. I think that's particularly important for Weis in Year 1 because he wants to compete right away and it doesn't seem like he thinks (or wants) that can be done with young, inexperienced players.

I think a couple of these D-linemen will play right away and I think the RB, Taylor Cox, the WR, Josh Ford, and the TE, Charles Brooks, all will be important parts of KU's offense this fall.


Hi Matt,

Thanks for all your great KU coverage.

What do you believe are the main keys or areas that KU football and this new staff need to change, and fix in over-hauling this football program? How do we get back into being a competitive team/program that will battle to win games each and every week?

Rock Chalk!

Matt Tait

First off, thanks a lot. Glad you're enjoying it.

As for your question, I think the No. 1 thing that needs to be addressed (and is being addressed) is the attitude. For whatever reason, things got pretty relaxed during the past couple of seasons.

Players were asked to show up for weights at 6 a.m. and they strolled in at 6:02 or 6:07 or 6:10 and that was OK. That's not the case any longer. 6 a.m. means 6 a.m. - 5:59, really. And if you're not there at that time, you'll pay for it.

I think that kind of mentality and change in culture will be the biggest thing that will help move this program forward toward being competitive again.

That idea will be transferred to all areas — academics, off the field and practice - until it's just the way things go.

All that I've heard so far tells me that this culture shift is off to a great start.


Hi Matt Is the date for the spring game set yet?

Matt Tait

Coach Weis announced it a week ago last Monday. Game time has not been set yet, but the game will take place on Saturday, April 28. As long as there's good weather, I'm expecting an incredible turnout.


Michael Cummings seems to be relatively unknown. Will you give us the "Matt Tait Souting Report" on Cummings as well as your opinion on him as a capable backup QB?

Matt Tait

First off, lemme say that I really, really like Michael Cummings. I think he's an incredible athlete, a great kid and he has the potential to be a very talented player...

The thing you have to remember is that he was recruited hear as a QB by the old staff, which favored the dual-threat, mobile types. I'm not saying he can't transform himself into a pro-style type of QB — he does have a strong arm — but his size (6-0, 196) really limits his ability to stand in the pocket and make throws.

I think he'll be given a fair chance to compete for some sort of role as a QB and if it doesn't work at that position, I think they'll definitely find a place for him to play. He works hard, has a great attitude and is really athletic.


Who do you think the 11th and 12th members of the big 12 will be?

Matt Tait

I think Louisville has as good a shot as anybody and I think BYU is in the running along with Notre Dame. I know people think the Notre Dame business is crazy talk, but there's just something about it that makes sense.

I wouldn't give up on another school from Texas being added, too, maybe an SMU or somebody like that. I know UT might not be a big fan of such a move, but don't forget, UT doesn't run things anymore... Or at least that's what we're being told.

Long way to go before we get there, though, so it's possible another school or two could come out of nowhere.


Time for a few more ...


Do you think there's a decent chance Justin McCay could be cleared for this fall? I know it's rare for an intraconference transfer to be allowed to play immediately, but you'd think the NCAA would make an exception since OU released him to be closer to his family.

Matt Tait

I think there's a better than decent chance that McCay will be cleared to play in 2012. In fact, I'm expecting that to be the case. Everyone I've talked to who has knowledge of how these things go has said that McCay has a legit case here and that the NCAA usually rules in favor of kids in his position.

If so, it could go down as the biggest pick-up Weis made this offseason. The kid is incredibly talented, incredibly athletic and he's one of those rare athletes who's so good that he makes everything look effortless.

Don't know when we'll hear anything yet, but I'd guess sooner than later.


Matt, What are KU's options at safety now that Keeston is gone?

Matt Tait

KU's in better shape at safety than people realize. First off, Bradley McDougald is back with experience and a ton of talent and I think sophomore Victor Simmons will emerge as the guy who steps up and fills the void left by Terry.

Simmons, an Olathe native, is supremely talented and showed a lot of poise and maturity during the time he played as a true freshman. I'm expecting a major leap from him, and then, of course, you've still got Lubbock Smith back there with a ton of experience, as well.


Any idea why KU is being so difficult about releasing Berglund?

Matt Tait

I think it's just them trying to teach the young man a lesson, so to speak. He made a lot of fuss and was in the headlines for KU for the past year and the coaches and administration were very supportive and patient with him. Now that he's kind of thrown them under the bus by hiring a lawyer and sending out a release, I think they're just determined to prove that 18-year-olds don't run this program any more.

Should they have released him and been done with it? Probably. But I have total faith that he'll get his release and be on his way and all of this will be forgotten.

It's a bad deal and it's too bad it didn't work out with Brock. But he'll move on and so will KU.


And finally ... I swear I didn't submit this question.


Do you like turtles?

Matt Tait

I'm not a huge fan, but there's really not a lot to dislike... Never really been a Maryland fan, though, so maybe that tells you something.


All right, thanks for your time, Matt, and thanks for everyone out there for submitting questions.

Matt Tait

You bet. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and remember, we'll be here every Thursday afternoon talking KU football so check back next week, as we'll know then who KU signed in the Class of 2012. Should be a fun week!


Chris Bailey 6 years, 4 months ago

Sure like to know who these unknowns are that we keep hearing about? Hope we pick up some more top level recruits!

Tom Pritchard 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Matt..Keep the articles coming...We in the Jayhawk nation can not get enough...I am stoked..

Ben Kane 6 years, 4 months ago

everybody likes the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 4 months ago

Again, a bunch of softball questions for Tait. Apparently the same guy that schedules KSU's non conference football schedule selects these questions! Answer the tough ones from your most loyal readers.

If you could pick any person with big 12 ties to joust, who would it be?

LAJayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

So apparently you are afraid to put on record what it is, exactly, that you would do-oo-oo for a Klondike bar, huh? Weak sauce, Matt. Weak sauce.

gardenjay 6 years, 4 months ago

Well, shoot, maybe someone else can answer this one: how are KUFball season ticket sales?

CardHawkFan 6 years, 4 months ago

Missed on this one, Matt! Good work as always. I imagine that CW still has connections back up the the New England area. Any chance we get any of those recruits thinking twice about Rutgers now that Schiano is going to coach the Buccaneers? Seemed like an awful lot of people are interested in reopening their recruiting.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

Was it not apparent when watching the games?

Matt Tait 6 years, 4 months ago

That's part of the answer, the other part is that we're only now starting to learn the depths of just how bad things were under Gill now that he's gone...

Academics suffered, off-the-field issues existed and the general discipline throughout the program was lacking. We know that now because of what people are telling us and how the players are reacting to the new regime.

labbadabba 6 years, 4 months ago

Curious - Were there reports coming out of Buffalo that echoed the same? How was it that the administration didn't see the Turner Gill was Terry Allen 2.0?

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago


I think you're right. I think we knew which players were working hard and which ones weren't. Mcdougald and Operum are two guys that stick out in my mind.

I think Weis has a hold on this program in regards to discipline, and he says he's going to be the guy checking up on their grades.

I've always viewed athletics as teaching three things. Team work, character, and work ethic. These are all good things.

But it is character and work ethic that can be carried over to the classroom. Many of these athletes came from situations where they didn't necessarily do all that well in their studies in high school. Of course, many of them may have done really well in their studies in high school. But, that work ethic doesn't stop at football practice. It carries over into their private lives, and into their careers. Most of the guys from almost every team in the country will never get drafted and these things help these young men become better men.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

I have respect for Matt Tait, and he deserves it. If it wasn't Jesse picking the questions, it would be a much better chat session.

"Do you like turtles?"

Nothing about an ESPNU 150 kid that has KU on his list that is still listed as not undeclared wasn't an appropriate question?

Jesse, maybe now you know why I don't have respect for you.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

Nothing about an ESPNU 150 kid that has KU on his list that is still listed as undeclared wasn't an appropriate question?

Correction from original post.

Micah Mandy Haase 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a weekly chat I'm sure if you ask again next week you might get picked and then you won't be as butt hurt. Seriously guys it's not like they have to answer any questions, heck I enjoy these 30 minute chats even if only a couple questions about football got asked.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

Of course they don't have to answer any questions. The point I made however is, "Do you like turtles?" vs an actual substantive question.

This didn't cause me to lose respect for Jesse. That happened a long way back. This just affirms that I'm right to not respect him in my view.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

Agreed, but I think that Sheperd and Jackson are real weapons, too, and both were true freshmen a year ago. With the proper coaching, that they weren't getting with Gill, I think the two will be fine.

I remember Marcus Henry. He had the drops too, then his Senior year he broke out big. Leadership was lacking the past two years, but I think that is a consequence of a coaching staff that cared more about the players not having their cell phones on game day than actually drilling into them "catch the ball" before you run with it.

It is common with freshmen receivers, but nonetheless, they didn't improve. Not even the Senior.

Now, Patterson is a good weapon. But Sheperd and Jackson can and I think will be better weapons because they have height that Patterson doesn't.

With McCay on the outside on one side, well, he's going to get double teamed a lot with a safety on plays designed to go deep. That is where both Jackson and Sheperd come in. SPEED. They're going to draw single coverage and the opponents best, often fastest guy is going to be on McCay. It is a matchup advantage that KU can exploit. Linebackers won't be able to cover either of the two guys, or four guys counting McCay and Patterson. On 2nd and short, KU is going to have some options.

I think 2nd and short might happen quite often. Crist gets rid of the ball quick. He makes quick, decisive decisions and throws the ball with a firmness that sticks to the receivers' hands. Crist is also tall enough that he can see guys that are open early in a play, and he is athletic and strong and can scramble out of trouble if it occurs. Which, it will at times, not doubt.

I like this offense a lot, with Heaps taking over in 2013.

If KU lands these solid CBs, that played on the same high school team, well, we could have something there, and make another team one dimensional and let our linebackers react to the plays instead of having tunnel vision.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 4 months ago

Hottodd69 Bangkok Trojanhawk

This is more like a penthouse forum than football q&a session!

focojayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

Matt, didn't realize you were from Fort Collins. I, originally from Kansas, have been here in the fort for 5 years and love it. In fact we have a quite a little group of Kansas people here. I can see your view on why CSU would not make much sense for the Big 12, however, I can see some reasons it would.

First off, you know as well as I do what the KU crowds were like in Boulder. I think it would be just as good here. The Bball program is improving, and the football program has just hired Alabama's OC. Good hire? We don't know that yet, but for a school like CSU this is huge, just like Weis is for KU. They are sick of sucking, want to change it and seem willing to fork out the dollars to do so . Also, there has been serious talk about building a new football stadium on campus, which would put it walking distance to Old Town.

I, of course, am all for this because KU would play at least twice a year in my backyard. Just a thought on your CSU comment that got me excited. You obviously know more on how all this works than I. Appreciate all of the updates and articles. I enjoy them every day!

Matt Tait 6 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff. Glad you're enjoying Fort Collins. I still consider it home in a lot of ways and my dad still lives out there. Great place. A lot like Lawrence, if you think about it. I've been lucky enough to live in both towns. Thanks for the kind words!

colreader 6 years, 4 months ago

There's approx. 10,000 KU alums living in Colorado.

Katie Bieber 6 years, 4 months ago

Wow! I'm one of them, but didn't realize there were so many! I'm from Kansas and love Lawrence, but I gotta say that seeing mountains everyday is pretty darn cool...

LogicMan 6 years, 4 months ago

Why possibly CSU -- multiple reasons.

The potential sweetest: building them up to the point where they can routinely mop the field/court using CU each year. And even sweeter, in decades from now, when jet travel becomes prohibitive and those long, slow bus or train rides over the mountains, for every away game in every sport, finally gets to CU, they will have to come to CSU on bended knee looking for support to rejoin the Big ??.

To get back into the CO TV market since Air Force isn't interested (or a better fit, in my humble opinion).

To be travel partners with Wyoming, and part of a western pod if we go to 16.

They are near the mountains, and Estes Park specifically, restoring an excellent vacation spot for traveling Big 12 fans.

And if UT, etc. bolt some day, we need more established members to help ensure the survival of the conference. There's no guarantee that we or any of the other forlorn members would be immediately picked up by a better conference. Just look what's going on now in the Big East, C-USA, and MWC -- extreme anxiety, just like we had a year or so ago.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 4 months ago

Matt, Any chance you could type out your questions before hand and copy paste the answers as they come in? I'm guessing you would get about 2-3 times more questions love that!!

Still would like an answer to the stipend question(s)? Is KU in a position to pay the additional stipends if approved? Are there Big XII teams that would struggle to pay the stipends? Are the stipends required for all sports or just for money sports?

Mike Kendall 6 years, 4 months ago

No hard feelings for not selecting my questions, btw! I love the coverage Matt. Keep it up. The excellent coverage keeps me close to what's happening with the football game. Again, thanks!

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

Fair enough. But it wasn't about my question in particular. Isn't it funny how some seem to know about this? You a personal (crony) of Jesse?

colreader 6 years, 4 months ago

"Do you like turtles?" is a trick question. Former Jayhawk Mark Turgeon is the Terrapin's b-ball coach, so of course Matt likes turtles!

justinryman 6 years, 4 months ago

I am wondering now if I can find a Turtle with its shell painted with KU on it or something for my new avatar????

I like Turtles.

Andrew Washington 6 years, 4 months ago

Turgeon is the head coach of a big time program now..I dont think that Bill Self is going to retire in the near its not likely that Turgeon will be here "in days to come." I'm not sure that he'd be the #1 candidate to replace Self anyway. I like Mark Turgeon-but I'd really like Bill Self to stick around a while longer.

Mike Nicco 6 years, 4 months ago

Coach Turgeon is barley 2 years younger than Coach Self.

Micky Baker 6 years, 4 months ago

BadHaaseJayhawk sgtjb123

I'm only going to say this once.


Jeffery Barrett 6 years, 4 months ago

Huh?! All I said was, lighten up. Its just a question.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 4 months ago

Two comments on the comments: 1) I like Colorado State because of tv market and general location, potential for growth of fan base as it is a significantly growing university, and to replace CU bridging us with Utah, thus making bringing in BYU a contiguous state.

2) on Michael Cummings would like to see him stay at QB and have a dual-threat option for when we need a change of offensive strategy. We will always have QB run-plays in the playbook. And remember Nolan Cromwell was very athletic and he did okay at QB. I just like the option for this point of our program untill we get our pass protection where it needs to be.

Clarence Glasse 6 years, 4 months ago

A minor thing: Does anyone know of any uniform changes coming other than names going back on the jerseys? I'm kind of interested in the red stripe on the hat.

LogicMan 6 years, 4 months ago

The latest realignment rumor on the Interweb is that FSU and Clemson have approached the Big 12 to discuss things. They are apparently worried that the ACC is about to be raided by the Big 10 and the SEC, and were not happy about Syracuse and Pitt joining.

Another is that five ACC teams, and Louisville, would join to make the Big 16. Take both rumors with a grain of salt.

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