Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Woodling: ‘07-‘08 huge year, but best?

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino, left photo, basks in his team's 2008 Orange Bowl victory, and KU basketball coach Bill Self, right photo, revels in his team's 2008 National Championship.

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino, left photo, basks in his team's 2008 Orange Bowl victory, and KU basketball coach Bill Self, right photo, revels in his team's 2008 National Championship.


I wasn't there for Bob Hemenway's commencement address, but I know many folks who heard it weren't pleased with the Kansas University chancellor.

Hemenway, they felt, put too much emphasis on the Jayhawks' football and men's basketball accomplishments and not enough on academics.

I can't fault Hemenway, though. Sure, the mission of all universities is academics, but nothing enhances the perception of a university more than its athletic prowess, and perception is a big part of Hemenway's job.

Contemporary perception is television. You won't ever find a university's academic achievements on the tube, but college football and men's basketball :? In season, they're on TV more often than cooking shows.

Kansas University is trumpeting 2007-08 as the greatest sports season in its history. Never before had the Jayhawks won the NCAA men's basketball championship and a major bowl game in the same school year.

Then again, there have been only two other school years when that was even possible - 1951-52 and 1987-88.

The Jayhawks' 1951 football team compiled an 8-2 record, and would have qualified for a major bowl in this day and age, but that was before television made bowls a must-have for every major winter tourist destination.

Bowl games had proliferated by the late 1980s, but in '87 Kansas fielded one of the worst football teams in its history.

Those Jayhawks finished with a 1-9-1 record with the lone victory a 16-15 squeaker over NCAA Div. I-AA Southern Illinois.

So we're talking about a narrow window. Still, when a school's two showcase sports go over the top, it is a wise man who beats the drum as long and as loud as he can because each passing day leads to the inevitable: "What have you done for us lately?"

Was this really the greatest sports year in KU history?

Not in big-picture terms.

In fact, you could say football and men's basketball were blinders that blocked out the fact that Kansas remains non-competitive among its Big 12 Conference brethren in many sports.

In baseball, for example, KU suffered the ignominy of being one of only two schools that failed to qualify for the league tournament. And, in women's basketball, the Jayhawks tied for 10th place.

I mention baseball and women's basketball because those sports - at least in my opinion - rank next on the public-interest chart.

Granted they're a distant 3-4 behind football and men's basketball, but they're funded well enough to generate high expectations.

If you calculate success based on the top four sports instead of the top two, then 2007-08 takes a back seat to 1992-93.

During that school year, football won a bowl game, men's basketball went to the Final Four, baseball made its only trip to the College World Series and women's basketball compiled a 21-9 record.

Ah, yes, that was a very good year indeed. But so was the one that just ended. The only difference is how they accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.


William James 12 years, 9 months ago

Uh Oh, it looks like Big Ten Boy-Greene is back out. Ryan, are you still bitter about our football team making you and Corso look so ignorant all fall. Does anybody remember what Ryan said we would do on the road last year? I do, he said we would go 0-4! Its okay Ryan you were only 4 games off. Ryan, you are no longer allowed to speak to us about football. Id recomend you go back to Big Ten country and help them figure out how to beat Florida Atlantic or Appalachian State.

thelastjhawk 12 years, 9 months ago

It was certainly the best year as far as traditional revenue producing sports are concerned. And frankly, that's all that really matters.

Ryan Gerstner 12 years, 9 months ago

Strike, that was '93, not '91. This was still our best year. What else do they want Hemenway to say about our academics? It's pretty much the same as last year. It's not like Hemenway has us up in the top 25 and he's probably not going to as long as the state insists on tying our hands by pretty much letting in anyone that graduates from a Kansas h.s. The admission standards are a joke and it devalues all of our degrees by admitting so many that aren't prepared for college that flunk out and go to a school they should have been at in the first place. Kansas has to be one of the last states in the country with such low admission standards.

Jonathan Allison 12 years, 9 months ago

I didn't have chemistry in HS. I didn't have calculus either. I didn't have physics for that matter. I was mid 20s on the ACT, and I was accepted into the school of engineering out of HS.I did decide to take a year at Pittsburg State though before coming to KU.

rgreene 12 years, 9 months ago

No. You read that all wrong, dirk. I'm grouping my sister in with the thousands of graduates who considered this one of the biggest days of their lives. I doubt they just wanted to sit there and hear the athletic dept.'s ego get massaged.

FlaHawk 12 years, 9 months ago

Hemmingway know the ropes. Why did he hire Lew and shell out big bucks for KU AD. He directed the investment and has a right to "crow" about it.FOr those of us that have left KU and are in the eral world, KU is hardly an academic mecca. A good scholl but not a top 50 academic fortress. The school is in a small state with little Fortune 500 industry. The endowments are not nearly enough to booast research which is the life blood of a University in the 21st Century.Hemmingway is no fool! Victories in the sports world will bring much larger endowments for KU that diplomas ever will.This is sad but it the face of modern education!

number1jayhawker 12 years, 9 months ago

hawkfan20, I wouldn't say Kansas is an easy school to get into. My stepdaughter had a 3.5 GPA at Blue Valley but did not receive admission to KU, because they said she didn't take a chemistry class in high school.

dirkleisure 12 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps Mr. Greene would have been satisfied if the Chancellor had just mentioned his sister. I know that would mean more to the "majority of students" than some ridiculous men's national basketball championship or Orange Bowl victory.Would Mr. Greene be satisfied if, say, highway signs pointing to Lawrence were updated to honor Mr. Greene's sister, perhaps with a photo in place of that grotesque symbol of athletics, the jayhawk.

yates33333 12 years, 9 months ago

Harvard, Yale, Brown, etal., aren't bad schools and have weak athletic programs. Where did you go to journalism school, Missouri?

Ryan Gerstner 12 years, 9 months ago

number1, she would have very likely gotten in if she had taken Chemistry. The requirements are pretty simple if you take the core h.s. courses and I believe there's a sliding GPA/ACT scale, but roughly a 21 on the ACT is all that is needed, which is a low standard.jacob, I'm waiting for a list of all your state schools that have similar requirements because off the top of my head, I know Missouri, Illinois, and Texas all have higher admissions requirements. I can't wait to see the prestigious list of states with such low admission standards that people think we should emulate them. Tuition at KU was one of the cheapest in America in '99. We're still probably below the national average despite tuition tripling as you state.

OutlawJHawk 12 years, 9 months ago

Athletic accomplishment is everything. The academic side of college is just one part of the experience, but will never be what the best memories are made of. As a 1990 KU grad, my most fond memories will always be Memorial Stadium on a fall day, the aura of Allen Field House anytime, playing hoops for hours at Robinson, and the 88 Championship.I remember, but not fondly, a class in the Union Auditorium with 600 other "aspiring" students. Did I feel warm and fuzzy and KU pride in those large impersonal classes taught by a TA? Did we sing the alma mater before class or wave the wheat after a test? Hell, no.Give me 600 fellow Jayhawks in the stands at any game and champions on the field of play. That is what most of us Jayhawk alumni want!!! Those of you who do not acknowledge this, keep hiding behind your tenure or ignorance. Keep riding the wave Hemingway; you are speaking my language and recollecting some of the most lasting and might I say important memories of these graduates...Rock Chalk.

rgreene 12 years, 9 months ago

number1,I guess that puts some truth to the rumor that it's easier out of state than in-state. I was out-of-state, had a lazy 2.8 and an ACT in the mid-20s and got in. That's odd that your stepdaughter didn't get admitted.

Lance Hobson 12 years, 9 months ago

What about 90-91, when we won a bowl, got to the Final 4, and went to the college world series? Not bad, but this year still has to be considered the best year ever in terms of positive attention brought to KU sports.

jaybate 12 years, 9 months ago

This is mendacity on the highest level I have seen in some time.

hawk_bred20 12 years, 9 months ago

He also talked about how our debate team beat Harvard to finish number 1 in the country. He talked about the whole student body coming together for the NC game and win. I thought it was pretty cool.

walkdog262 12 years, 9 months ago

Hell, he probably was running out of material. Graduation speeches are always the worst. "You can achieve, you have accomplished, blah blah blah." In this crappy economy can you blame him for talking about sports? I'd rather hear that than hear about how much "you can achieve if you put your mind to it." Giving a grad speech every year must be a terrible gig.

coreyo 12 years, 9 months ago

what are students going to remember about this year when they look back 30 years from now?was it that A you got in biochem II or was it the insane night on mass st. after the championship? lots of academic departments did well. you know you did well. good for you.

kutravis 12 years, 9 months ago

I just have to say that I was in the stands celebrating my girlfriend's graduation and listening to chancellor hemenway's speech was disturbing. The university is a university because of academics, not sports. Sports are merely a by product of what the university has to offer. And im guessing that less than 5% of the total graduating population had anything to do with College athletics during their time at KU (other than be fans). When the head of the university spends roughly 15 minutes discussing the success of KU Athletics during a graduation ceremony, there's a serious problem. But, we did have a great year is sports. It's just unfortunate that Chancellor Hemenway decided to speak about it at a major academic function rather than say, a Williams Fund event. Oh well, at least people will remember what he had to say, whether they like it or not.

Joe Ross 12 years, 9 months ago

Problem is, Ryan, that athletics are big draws for students to come here in the first place. Not the ONLY reason, no! But let's face it: students don't go wild for the journalism or debate clubs like they do athletic programs. If there was a problem it is this: NOT that the "ego's of those in the AD were stroked," but that more recognition was not given to other programs. Especially coming off a year like we had (which rarely happens), do you really want to douse the ego-stroking in the first place?Not me.

rgreene 12 years, 9 months ago

He didn't talk about the debate team, he mentioned the debate team in passing. He delved deep into football and basketball and I, for one, was kind of offended, since my sister, who has worked hard for four years, was one of the students graduating. Commencement is a day you celebrate academic achievement. Sure, the basketball and football seasons were huge deals, worthy of mention in the speech, but that's all he talked about. It got old real fast, in my opinion. His whole thing about everyone he hugged afterwards ... who cares? The journalism school earned some big honors this year, too, and wasn't mentioned once by the chancellor, who was too busy talking about Mario Chalmers, Aqib Talib and Lew Perkins, who mean little to nothing to the majority of the student body. I wasn't a fan of the speech.

fansincewilt 12 years, 9 months ago

Few schools in history have had this kind of success in one year. It should be acclaimed. I certainly haven't seen the school get into national news because of anything else. If it did, I guess I missed it. OK, I guess it's all right to say it. "Jayhawks are #1 this year."

Jacobpaul81 12 years, 9 months ago

Kansas has to be one of the last states in the country with such low admission standards.-NOT EVEN CLOSE - Most state schools have very similar admission standards. You can't raise admission standards at state schools anymore than they already are, or the state will cut funding. Instead, they can raise tuition, which Kansas has already done... it's 3 times what it was in 1999 when I started school.

Mike Crosbie 12 years, 9 months ago

Open enrollment for Kansas HS grads is what state universities should be for since they get our tax dollars. I went to Blue Valley with a 2.something, no chemistry, physics, and got a D in algebra, but I also worked full time after school my last two years of HS. Just because KU has to take you doesn't mean they have to keep you. I was on academic probation after my first year, then got my act together, aced college algebra, and finished my last two years with a 3.7 GPA. after graduation I was able to get a career traveling all over the world just because I had a degree. Thanks to KU, opportunity is available to all Kansas residents, as it should be, but if you don't apply yourself, you will be gone, a lesson I learned at KU that has served me well in life. Thanks KU for giving me the chance. As I look back on my time at KU academics and athletics are equally remembered, for me, getting an A in college algebra was as satisfying as watching KU win in athletics. By giving a marginal HS student like me a chance, anything can be possible, but you have to seize the opportunity through hard work just like the athletes, nothing is given to anyone, success comes from practice and hard work whether it be in academics or athletics.Rock Chalk Championhawk !!!!!

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