Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Official defends ‘nation’s easiest schedule’


Is all publicity good publicity?

If so, Kansas University's football team is beaming over its latest mention by writer Mark Schlabach.

Schlabach in a recent column declared the Jayhawks' 2007 schedule the least difficult in college football, saying the nonconference slate "includes more cream puffs than your favorite bakery."

Associate athletic director Larry Keating defended the schedule, saying playing in the Big 12 Conference eliminates KU's schedule from such a notorious tag.

"I'll tell you this," Keating said, "it's not the easiest schedule in the country."

The title stems from KU's nonconference schedule, which includes home games with Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International. None is from the six BCS conferences, and Southeastern Louisiana is a Division I-AA team. Three of the four posted losing records last season.

The construction of the schedule, though, wasn't with the narrow focus of starting 4-0 and playing a bunch of home games. It was instead a number of complicated circumstances that happened to fall into place in the same season.

Not that Kansas is wishing there was a better chance at losing in September. Not after going 6-6 and missing a bowl invitation last year, in part because of a nonconference loss.

Of the four nonconference games this fall, only Southeastern Louisiana was meant to be a one-year contract for 2007, consistent with KU's desire to play a I-AA team every year. Toledo is the finale of a three-game contract drawn up back in 2004. KU played the Rockets at home in 2004 and in Ohio in 2006.

The Central Michigan game was set up years ago, with former athletic director Bob Frederick signing the original contract before he left the post in 2001. That game was originally scheduled for 2002, rescheduled to 2004 and then postponed, with attempts made by both buy out the contract and cancel it altogether. Before Keating even arrived at KU, the game was moved to 2007.

"I got a file on that game as big as all my other files combined," Keating quipped.

As for Florida International, the two schools agreed to play a game in 2006 originally, but FIU was forced to back out when a better offer called.

"The Florida International game was originally supposed to be a single game last year, and very late in the spring, their A.D. called me because their president got the Miami president to successfully agree to a two-game series," Keating said. "He told the A.D., 'Get out of the game somehow because we're playing Miami.'"

Of course, the FIU-Miami game last year became one of the ugliest moments of the 2006 season after a huge brawl between the two teams stained the reputations of both schools.

FIU offered to buy out the contract with Kansas, but Keating insisted he needed the game for one of the future schedules. To compensate for the inconvenience, Florida International offered to play in Lawrence in both 2007 and '08 instead of just one game in 2006.

So there is an explanation for the 2007 slate lacking some punch up front. Kansas isn't completely innocent, though. Clearly, the Jayhawks aren't interested in filling their nonconference schedule with college football powers anytime soon.

A 2008 game at South Florida provides perhaps the biggest challenge of any nonconference game currently scheduled for the next seven years. Games against Sam Houston State, Louisiana Tech, Rice and Duke are scheduled, in part because all of those contracts contain at least one game in Lawrence. Keating has several openings he's still working to fill.

Keating defends the scheduling, as do others around the KU football program, by pointing to matchups with teams like Nebraska, Texas A&M;, Missouri and Oklahoma State this season.

"Anyone who plays in the BIg 12," Keating said, "is not playing an easy schedule."

¢Media days on TV: Those wanting to see what the coaches and players of the Big 12 think of their chances this season can get a first-hand look.

ESPNU (Sunflower Broadband channel 141) will televise all three days of Big 12 football media days live, starting at 1 p.m. on July 23.

Live broadcasts will also be shown at 9 a.m. on July 24 and 9 a.m. on July 25.

KU coach Mark Mangino and three selected players are scheduled to chat with various media outlets on the first day. Media days are being held this year at The Wyndham-St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio.

¢Dates to remember: After the quick visit to San Antonio, KU's players will wrap up summer conditioning and summer school at the end of the month and get ready for the fall.

Players are scheduled to report for fall camp on Aug. 4, with the first practice scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 5.


troutsee 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree, too many "hecks" but what the heck, I heck a lot when I'm angry and pessimists make me angry. I'm telling you, we are going to be better than a lot of you guys think. 8-4 or better. Go Hawks!

JBurtin 10 years, 9 months ago

Ku is going to put in some good records over the next few years.

I remember K-State getting exactly the same kind of critisism a few years ago because of their non-conference schedule. They used the same justification that the Big Twelve offered enough of a challenge that there is no way to schedule a full season of easy games. Sure enough, by the end of the year their RPI was decent despite their non-conference schedule.

It was exactly that kind of scheduling that allowed them to repeatedly go to good bowl games and improve their recruiting, eventually making them into a perinial top ten team.

I'm more than happy that KU is skipping an embarrassing butt whooping by teams like Louisville and Auburn like the morons in Manhattan are scheduling. They are destroying themselves with foolish pride by assuming that they are still in the same league with the K-State teams of the nineties.

It's taken a while for us to get the ball rolling here in Lawrence, but I feel good times are on their way.

Ryan Gerstner 10 years, 9 months ago

I don't mind the light schedule as long as KU's going to go 8-4 or better. KU needs to get to .500 in the conference so if we can go 4-4 in the Big XII and sweep the non-con, then I can live with the schedule as we build the program to the next level. It just makes it a little harder to get the fans excited and I'd like to see Memorial Stadium sellout every game so we can start boosting our season tickets numbers. Athletics needs to upgrade their web site as well as create an Aqib Talib for Heisman page.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for easy non-conference games. But more road tune-ups would be nice. We need to learn how to win on the road.

Mangino always pooh-poohs the notion that there's some "mystical" hex for KU on the road. But look the record.

We'll never go 8-4 without learning how to win road games.

William James 10 years, 9 months ago

The only complaint I have is Id like to see us hit the road once a year and play a BCS team every year even if its just somebody like Duke. The reason for the road game is to get them some experience before conference play. The reason for the BCS game is possible TV and it gives the fans something to look forward to. Also, why not play Colorado State or Air Force or Iowa. They are close schools that would draw plenty of away fans. When we play them at their place its close enough for us to travel also. According to that guy that wrote the article, Arkansas had one of the 5 easiest schedules in the nation. Here are a few games they play this season: @Bama, Auburn, South Carolina, @Tennessee, @LSU. In other words that guy dosent know a thing about college football.

Michael Leiker 10 years, 9 months ago

Well, I asked for a football article, would've loved something more positive.

CMU won a bowl game last year right? When we scheduled Toledo, they were on their way up.

I have no problem with the easy schedule either. Pretty sure NU is still coming in early November, and I think we make a trip to a-crack texas at some point as well. OSU away is a tough game for anybody.

I like the 3 for Heisman page idea. I'm calling for 10 INTs 7 touchdowns and 31 Pass Breakups (assuming other teams are dumb enough to throw at him at all).

GO 3!!!

Chicago_JHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Fabio. We need to schedule some schools in our same boat - weak in a major conference. Similar to the Northwestern series a few years ago.

As for Arkansas and some of the other schools in the list, he was looking at non-conference slate only, not the entire schedule.

OwenJarvisIII 10 years, 9 months ago

Apparently you homers above don't get it... What kid wants to come to a school that plays a bunch of weaklings? How much TV exposure are you gonna get playing Central Michigan or FIU? Or Duke? Give me a break. This program needs a serious jolt and if it means getting waxed by a national power, so what?

Any loser program can beat up on weak schools, and for those making the K-State argument, at least K-State took care of business during conference play.

Wake up people - this program is really only a notch better than when when Terry Allen was running things... Except Mangino's got an AD with a bigger wallet and more fundraising ability...

I'm as big a KU football fan as anybody, but I don't subscribe to the notion KU can never have a top notch program... But it starts with a better head coach, more talent and fans that aren't satisfied with a lame, D-II quality schedule...

Chris Petersen in 2008...

hawkone 10 years, 9 months ago

How are all the non-conference games cream puffs when Central Michigan won the MAC last year? I think that means something these days, unless your a sportswriter from the East.

sm5561 10 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, our non-conference schedule sucks. But you can't blame KU. When the NCAA says that a 7-5 Sun Belt team is more deserving of a bowl than a 6-6 Big 12 team, what do you expect? Bowl games will generate far more interest in the program that any non-conference game in September.

William James 10 years, 9 months ago

Hey guys, for all of you that want to play Notre Dame and USC. Watch what happens to KSU this year. They play at Auburn and at Texas in the first month of the season. A week later they have to play us. Meanwhile we play one quality opponent September 1st and easy teams after.
Advangtage KU. Now we will be fully rested up for the game in Manhattan while KSU will head back home limping after another butt kickin. This time at the hands of Texas. They wont be at full strength and we will and it will show. The lesson on October 6th is dont beat yourself up before conference play.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

Do you like injuries?

USC and Florida (followed in a typical year by teams like Texas, OU, and Nebraska) will leave team like Kansas seroiusly depleted of decent players.

Folks, we have very little depth. Our conference schedule is tough enough most years.

walkdog262 10 years, 9 months ago

If Mangino can't go at least 8-4 with this patsy-ass slate, then he's gotta go. No more freakin' excuses.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for dumping him if he doesn't deliver, but I don't really think we can replace him with better.

You don't fire a coach. You replace him.

seattlehawk_78 10 years, 9 months ago

I'd like to step up the non-con schedule a bit. Atleast eliminate the D-2 schools. I'm not in favor of playing contenders but we should attempt to play teams from the majors. We don't have to schedule Ohio State, instead teams like Illinois and Indiana would be good opponents. When Mangino took over I think scheduling cream puffs made sense but it is time to turn it up a notch. K-State may get embarrassed by Louisville and Auburn but they will be a better team in the long run.

bmcmich1 10 years, 9 months ago

Some things to consider:

Has our improvement since the TA days been solely because of Mangino, or because of a better AD, or both?

Did Mangino get a pay raise because he truly deserved it, or was it more a move by Lew to show other coaches out there that he will open up his wallet here at KU?

The thing that excites me about this non-con schedule is that its relative ease sets it up perfectly to see whether Mangino truly is turning things around or if our slight improvement since his arrival has been merely a coincidence. I know some people will argue that he may still need more time, but it's going to take a lot of convincing to get me to believe he is the answer if we have another lack-luster year. It's put-up or shut-up time, no matter how you slice it--and I can't wait to see what this team is made of come September.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

Only a genius innovator can take KU to another level in football.

A Spurrier, for example, would do better than Mangino. A Stoops probably couldn't. A Mack Brown absolutely couldn't.

I'd like to see one of these established hotshots try and turn KU around. Very few would be able to do it.

Barring something wildly different, we're stuck with what we've got....pretty much.

FlaHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Kirk. We need to get real. KU has and never will be a D-I powerhouse. The 10-2 with Mason was a fluke and flukes can happen every 10 years or so.

I am not a big fan of Mangino (no pun intended as I weight 185 lbs), but he is about as good as KU can expect.

William James 10 years, 9 months ago

juslob- I think we play Duke 2010 and 2011. I hope its a one and one. If it is, I will be hopin on a flight to North Carolina.

actorman 10 years, 9 months ago

We're number one, yeah!!! Hey, it's good to be number one in SOMETHING.

No two ways about it, this is the year for Mangino to prove himself. This team simply HAS to go 8-4 or better, or Mangino has to go.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

Bill Synder was a genius innovator; by definition most coaches are not.

Okay, if Snyder wasn't a "genius innovator", then he certainly was an uncommonly shrewd and opportunistic and obsessively competitive character who made maximum use of KSU's dubious academic standards by bringing in all those (in many cases, in all probability) illiterate juco players that we could NEVER get away with on that scale.

He was a striking anomoly, Snyder, and he would have won anywhere, in my view.

JBurtin 10 years, 9 months ago

KU, yes there is an RPI in football, it just doesn't get as much press. But it is one factor (albeit a much smaller factor in the football world than in basketball) in determining who gets what bowl game.

Football is about big money matchups that will bring in crowds to the bowl games. That's why it's good for us to get press for doing winning a bunch of games even if our schedule is lousy, and having a reasonable decent RPI to counteract that negative press.

The big bowl games would love nothing more than to create another matchup like the bizarre Oklahoma vs. Boise State matchup in the BCS last year. It creates a David vs. Goliath atmosphere that will get good press and a good national following.

Indeed this was true of me last year. I could have cared less about most of the BCS matchups, but I wanted to see if little Boise State with their incredibly weak schedule and good record could compete with a powerhouse team on a mediocre year.

KU is in the position to have the best of both of these worlds. We are in the weaker half of the big twelve so we can give ourselves a relatively easy schedule for now to gain attention in much the same way that Boise State has, then once we are ready we can start to play some more big money matchups.

Skip the butt whoopin' for now, it will only kill the confidence of the team. Teams like Boise State only schedule their token big pre-conference matchup because they need the money. Winning games is what makes them a national name.

Of course for this to work KU must start doing it on the field as well as in theory, and realists are correct to point this out. I'm optimistic that we are now good enough to win, and will do everything in my power to help make this theory a reality.

bmcmich1 10 years, 9 months ago

"KU has and never will be a D-1 powerhouse." Wow, great attitude. It's a wonder we don't sell out every game with fans like that.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how 'fans' and journalists can get away with pointing out all the shortcomings and negative aspects of our football team without much uproar; but if you mention once that our beloved basketball team, who, when talked about, is made out to be god's gift to College Basketball, has failed to win a National Championship in nearly two decades, you're practically burned at the stake. Can someone explain that to me??

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

Plenty of KU b-ball fans are getting itchy about not having won a title in 2 decades. Every other "elite" b-ball team HAS won a title in that interim.

(But none of those teams have had to replace two world class head coaches during that period like we have. But we're doing alright.)

Football. It's pretty simple, I think. We have the tiniest recruiting base in the whole universe. To get a better level of out-of-state guys, we have to start winning. But how? With talent. And how do we get talent? By winning.

Tough situation. A tough LONGSTANDING situation.

A very innovative approach might get us a few more wins and eventually build some momentum and better recruiting. Maybe. The Boise State coach could probably eke out a few more W's here. But he would never come here. Nobody wants to come here.

Except for basketball.

William James 10 years, 9 months ago

Kirk-Your wrong man. Charles Gordon, Jake Sharp, Todd Reesing, and Aqib all wanted to come here.
As a vet, I could of gone to college at any public school in Texas totally free, but here I am. Give KU a little more credit. Im really not interested in hearing anything else about basketball until we beat Mizzou Thanksgiving weekend to win the north. Then, I will talk bball.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

fabio -- Charles Gordon couldn't even bring himself to STAY here.

You bet we have some good players. Not enough, however, to morph into the kind of football power that we've....never been.

Of course, we were talking coaches.

Congrats for leaving Texas. Thank God there are other criteria for school selection than football. I think Kansas is a great choice.

voygr1 10 years, 9 months ago

"KU will never be a powerhouse" That's BS I remeber seeing a KU team play for the national championship against Penn State. Only a penalty kept them from achieving it!!! Mangino is in the same mold as Pepper Rogers who took us to that game. Have faith people the time is right around the corner. Lets support the Jhawks as they are on the move up the ladder!!!

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

voygr1 -- While it's true that Penn State ended the season unbeaten in 1969, Kansas wasn't playing "for a national championship".

Check out how we did the FOLLOWING year. Abysmal. And how long did Pepper stick around?

We have a neato season every now and then, every decade or two. Usually because we land some amazing Kansas kids all at once.

I like your attitude -- and there's reason for optimism, but Mangino is a tough, decent guy with minimal imagination. I like him; he gives a damn about the players. Pepper was an dynamic guy, an egotist who knew the "score", knew the angles, and who didn't stick around.

KU football is what it is, what it has always been.

troutsee 10 years, 9 months ago

I get tired of you guys that are pessimists. Who says we can't be a D-1 power? We have a great school in a great location. We are improving our football facilities considerably. Mangino can coach, he's proved that two years ago. I'm the eternal optimist. Heck, we could very easily start the season 7-0. We are going to surprise a lot of people this year.

I'm for scheduling at least one tough non-conference opponent. Heck, we'll fill the stadium if we do. There are a ton of hungry KU football fans out there.

To heck with you doom and gloomers. We're going to have a good season, at least 8-4.

bg_duck1 10 years, 9 months ago

I would love to see some progress this year and see an 8-4 9-3 type of record but let's face it: we have an extremely inept coaching staff and the players can't do anything about it. Mangino is lucky that he got on when he did b/c Lew wanted to can him from the start but couldn't b/c it would show that we hadn't made any progress even though we had, but just a little. we can pour every $$ that the basketball team makes into facilities and whatnot but until we get a proven coach (not a shot in the dark guess on some young assistant) who got canned when he shouldn't have (like a LARRY COKER!) we are gonna keep going 6-6/7-5 and going to the ft. worthless bowls of college football every 3 or 4 years...sweet

bg_duck1 10 years, 9 months ago

btw our schedule is a f-ing joke!!!! you can't get better by playing d-II schools and whatever else directional school mangino digs through the cracks to some of the people said earlier let's play some teams from major conferences like illinois/northwestern/ole miss/arkansas/stanford/washington st./ whoever just make sure they are teams from REAL MAJOR CONFERENCES playing bad teams from bcs conferences is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than playing good teams from who gives a f* "conferences"

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

duck -- First you say we can't win games, then you say we should play tougher teams.

I assume you mean first we should replace the coach, then schedule tougher games.

If we continue to throw away 4th quarters like we did all last year, then I'd say replace Mangino with almost anyone.....

seattlehawk_78 10 years, 9 months ago

Kirk, I don't think we can get a "genius" coach to come to Lawrence. The closest we can do is find an up-an-coming coach to come here and then watch him leave for for a better program.

This is the school that produced Gale Sayers, John Hadl, and John Riggins but we've never been in consecutive bowls. I don't understand why we keep holding Mangino to a standard that is higher than what this program has historically been capable of. We've had lots of tough losses under Mangino but the bottom line is we've been competitive.

No question Mangino has improved KU football. I'd just like to see some of those close games result in more W's.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree, 78.

Thing is, I actually love KU football even though we suck. I guess we all do.

I moved far away from Lawrence and I really miss the games.

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

wow, how did I miss this party ...

KU CAN be a powerhouse in football if Florida can manage to win back-to-back hoops titles.

What gets me the most about not having won a hoops title in so long, is there are now students on campus that were born since the last one!

Back to the gridiron, Coach Mangino MUST get it done this year, and you know what, if he doesn't, I'd like to see Lew make a run at Boise St coach Chris Petersen!

William James 10 years, 9 months ago

big duck- I couldnt help but notice your a big Larry Coker fan. Ive got a highlight of part of last season below. Is this what you want to bring to KU?

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

The music track is "this is our country" -- but that's not really true. It's our race (human), our sex (male), and just the way we are, too often.

Especially on steriods!

halvhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

fabio, i agree thats probably not what we want to bring to KU fb...but larry coker is a good guy, very involved in FCA and things like that, something that does matter to recruits. Plus, i dont think you can blame a coach for the actions of his players if their actions arent a true reflection of the coach himself. can you blame scott downing for his punter stabbing his other punter at Northern Colorado? or can you blame isiah thomas and george karl for what happened between carmello and nate robinson last year?

bmcmich1 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm Sure Coker is a good guy, but that shouldn't be the issue here; it should be "is he a great coach?" What did he really do at Miami except inherit Butch Davis' recruits? My grandmother probably could have taken that team to a NC.

Terry Allen was a good guy, too...

But I do agree with you in that coaches shouldn't always be lumped in with the actions of idiot players--there's only so much you can control

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

It will be interesting to see how Chizik (sp?) does at ISU, in time.

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