Happy New Year. You have questions about 2008 and I don't have answers, of course, because I don't have a crystal ball. But I do have opinions.
What will happen in the Orange Bowl?
The dazzling halftime show will go on and on and on. Oh, you mean the game. I like that the Jayhawks are the underdogs because 'dogs often have their day in the postseason. I'm sure turnovers - and I hate to sound like a coach - will affect the outcome.
Can Kansas University's football team post back-to-back double-digit win seasons?
Not likely : not with Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and a road trip to South Florida on the Jayhawks' 2008 schedule. A more reasonable expectation would be back-to-back bowl trips. Kansas has never earned post-season invitations two years in a row.
Is there any danger the KU football team will collapse like it did in 1969 when it went to the Orange Bowl, then stumbled to a 1-9 record?
None whatsoever. Coach Mark Mangino will lose plenty of talent, but nothing like the personnel wipeout Pepper Rodgers faced in '69 when he was unable to replace 17 of 22 starters - nine on defense and eight on offense. Typical of Rodgers' desperation was the move of George McGowan, his leading receiver in '68, to free safety. McGowan later become a Canadian Football Hall of Famer as a wide receiver.
Will Kansas University capture the NCAA men's basketball championship after a 20-year wait?
Without doubt, this is the best team Bill Self has had in terms of talent, depth and experience. But a fourth ingredient is more essential. Luck. KU's 1988 NCAA champs lost 11 games, yet that team climbed to the top on rung after rung of good fortune : and, of course, Danny Manning's back.
Do the Chiefs have a plan on how to recover from this season's 4-12 debacle?
It's called rebuilding, a tack GM Carl Peterson should have taken prior to this season. Peterson couldn't see the handwriting on the wall, failing to recognize that most of the Chiefs' veteran players had hit the bricks. Meanwhile, after years of relying on free-agent quarterbacks, Peterson decided to go with youngster Brodie Croyle, who will become either the next Tom Brady or the next Ryan Leaf.
Will this be a breakthrough season for the Royals?
With the Chiefs descending, one might assume the Royals would be ascending given the cyclical nature of professional sports. Still, the Royals have been in a down cycle for a long time and can't realistically hope to improve unless three or four players have career years at the plate. Last season was an embarrassment, with John Buck leading the team in home runs with a mere 18 and Emil Brown pacing the club in RBIs with a piddling 62.
Will the Sprint Center be able to lure an NBA or NHL team, or both, to Kansas City?
Not for a while, or until K.C. fathers come up with more user-friendly parking for the downtown arena. Fans won't attend high-priced pro games in the Sprint Center on a consistent basis if they know they'll face a parking and traffic hassle. It doesn't help, either, that K.C. lost an NBA franchise (Kings) and an NHL team (Scouts) despite having an arena (Kemper) with copious close-in parking.
What will be the most overcovered sports story of 2008?
Either the Barry Bonds trial or the return of Dick Vitale's voice.