Sunday, June 6, 2010

Analyst Steele picks KU football to finish 4th again


Phil Steele took a lot of heat for picking Kansas University to finish fourth in the Big 12 North last season in his college football preseason magazine.

In a year that saw the Jayhawks reloading at the skill positions with guys like Todd Reesing, Jake Sharp, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier, a slew of fans told Steele he simply didn’t know what the heck he was doing.

“You don’t know what the heck you’re doing would be a nice e-mail,” Steele said recently by phone. “They were calling me an idiot, that I didn’t know football for anything. They were saying, ‘How can you write a magazine when you have them ranked there?’ They were questioning my sanity, my football intellect. But that’s the thing about college football. The fans are so fervent.”

The Jayhawks, after a promising 5-0 start, lost their final seven games and finished last in the North. The tailspin was widely unexpected, considering KU was beginning to establish itself as a consistent team atop the North. Heading into 2009, the Jayhawks were fresh off two straight seasons of bowl game triumphs (8-5, Insight Bowl in 2008 season; 12-1, Orange Bowl in 2007).

So what did Steele see that most of the other preseason magazines failed to recognize?

“The schedule,” Steele said. “Drawing Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. Only three Big 12 games were at home last year, and two were against Oklahoma and Nebraska. I was looking at it saying, ‘This schedule is ridiculous.’ They had the toughest schedule of any of the Big 12 teams last year.”

Steele, in his magazine that hits newsstands Tuesday, picked the Jayhawks to finish fourth again in the North in 2010.

Lindy’s also picked KU fourth in the North, while Athlon chose KU third. The Sporting News had the Jayhawks finishing second in the North to consensus-winner Nebraska.

“I think talent-wise, they’re not quite up to last year’s edition,” Steele said. “But when you factor in everything else, no Oklahoma, no Texas, no Texas Tech. Kansas will be facing an Oklahoma State team that’s rebuilding. They’ll take on a Baylor team that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1994. And they’ll face Texas A&M.; I’d rather be facing those three.”

Steele said reaching a bowl game in coach Turner Gill’s first year in Lawrence wasn’t out of the question.

“I think Gill is a quality coach,” Steele said. “I liked what he did at Buffalo (Mid-American Conference champs in 2008). He steps into a better schedule. They have a better shot at improving on last year’s record despite not being as talented.”


Kevin Studer 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't know much about this guy, but he seems to be dead-on. It reminds me of K-State reaching a bowl game in Prince's first year after not making it in Snyder's last 2. Of course Snyder was the better coach with the better team, but the schedule-stars simply aligned. The same could happen for us this year.

PenguinHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

I posted this to another article as well, but considering everything this football program has gone through in the past year, I would gladly take 3rd or 4th and a bowl game this season.

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

I think KU will be a very solid TEAM this year. I look for us to turn some heads. I think we will be in the thick of things and be competing for the North title.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 4 months ago

This just further emphasizes how poorly planned the leagues scheduling is.

CougIsLJW 10 years, 4 months ago

Actually, his prediction did not come true. He picked KU to finish fourth. They ended up last. Read the article next time.

Mark Lindrud 10 years, 4 months ago

At this point 4th sounds about right. We have questionable talent at the moment, but the team we have is very hungry to prove last year was a fluke. The team is unified and I think we could have a 6-6 or 7-5 record with this team and that would be a heck of a start for the new program with Gill. He definitely is coming to KU with better talent and facilities than he did at Buffalo.

jhokfan 10 years, 4 months ago

Agree Jacob. The scheduling needs to be revised. Will be even worse if the 16 team conference concept happens. We got Vince Young and Colt McCoy as upperclassmen while KSU got them as freshman and sophmores. Now the Wildcats will get the next Texas QB as a freshman or sophmore and when the rotation changes will get him as a junior or senior. Just one inequity in the currrent system. There must be lots of others.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 4 months ago

A simple first move would be to split up Oklahoma and Texas and substitute Baylor and A&M.

For instance, Oklahoma, Okie State and Baylor one year and then Texas, Texas Tech and A&M the next.

This may all become moot if all hell breaks loose between the conferences. In a season or two, we may be talking about BYU, TCU and Boise State or USC, UCLA and Stanford!!

justanotherfan 10 years, 4 months ago

The real problem is the schedule rotation hasn't changed since the conference was formed.

In 1996, the best two teams in the South were Texas and Texas A&M. In the North, the powers were Nebraska and Colorado. Seeing that, the schedule was set so that no South team would face both the Huskers and Buffs in the same year, while no North team would draw both the Horns and Aggies. Oklahoma was a .500 team. Texas Tech was no better or worse than Oklahoma State. Missouri and KU were both hit and miss. K-State was on the rise, but not really a power by any stretch.

But things change. OU hired Stoops and returned to glory. Colorado fell apart. A&M has had some lean years. K-State rose and fell. Nebraska rose, fell, and is on the rise again. The only team that has remained consistent in the Big XII is Texas.

The only way to combat that is to shake up the schedule every four years. Evaluate which teams are the best two, and split them up every four years. The problem is that type of shift could mean you could go four years without playing a team.

For example, the best South teams now are OU and UT. KU is currently in a cycle of OSU, Bay, A&M and OU, UT, Tech. The schedule is reshuffled so that KU's rotation becomes (hypothetically) OSU, Bay, UT and A&M, OU, Tech starting this fall with OSU, Bay, UT. KU would play Texas four straight years. Meanwhile, they wouldn't play A&M for four straight years.

jhokfan 10 years, 4 months ago

In fairness to Baylor, perhaps they should do away with the north-south schedule. Schedule 8 conference games regardless of division ties and rotate every year.

KURocksChalk 10 years, 4 months ago

We will be fighting it out for third place in the North I think. Nebraska, KSU at the top and Misery and us fighting it out for third with ISU close behind and CU last. Yet, overall the difference from top to bottom in the division is going to be close. I think 6-2 will win the north and expect two 5-3 teams. I think the North will hold its own against the South this year. I think KU will go 4-4 in league play plus or minus a game. If it is plus a game, that would be very good indeed.

grandpa 10 years, 4 months ago

troutsee, why is it that you are about the only person I agree with on these posts. If our football had the optimism of most of these guys, they would lose every game. It is my prediction that we are going to finish high in the win column. When we beat Georgia Tech at home, we are going to start rolling!!

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe because we are two old farts and have been through a few "wars."

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe because we are two old farts and have been through a few "wars."

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe because we are two old farts and have been through a few "wars."

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe because we are two old farts and have been through a few "wars."

grandpa 10 years, 4 months ago

troutsee: I think you hit the nail squarely on the head. Keep hanging in there with me.!!!

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