Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Royals, KU football similar


The Kansas City Royals are 46-62, in last place in the AL Central and are once again in line to have a top-five pick in next year’s MLB Draft.

But look a little deeper, and you’ll see K.C. might not be as far from respectability as it appears.

As of Monday, the Royals had only been outscored by 47 runs. Last year on Aug. 1, K.C.’s run differential was minus-109.

In fact, there have been only two times in the last 10 years that K.C.’s run differential was better on Aug. 1 than it is this year. The average differential during that time span was minus-96.

The point? It’s not easy for teams to make a monumental leap in one season.

The Royals have improved by 62 runs this season. If they make a similar improvement next season (which is possible with the young players who are developing), their run differential would be about even.

And if that happened, the Royals would have a legitimate shot at a .500 record — something that hasn’t happened since 2003.

It’s the same type of analysis that makes me nervous for the Kansas football team in 2011.

Though the Jayhawks went 3-9 last year, what had to be more discouraging for coaches was how bad their losses were.

If you take out the miracle victory against Colorado — remember, KU was down 28 in the fourth quarter — the Jayhawks had no Big 12 games they kept within single digits. KU’s closest losses were against Iowa State (28-16) and Nebraska (20-3).

Other games were out of reach in a hurry. In half of their Big 12 games, the Jayhawks were beaten by 34 points or more. Against Kansas State and Baylor, KU lost by a combined 100 points.

It all made for an unsightly point differential at the end of the season. In Big 12 play, KU was outscored by 219 (335-116) — the worst conference point differential since Baylor in 2007.

To compare, Texas Tech had the second-worst Big 12 point differential in 2010, and the Red Raiders were only outscored by 80 (279-199).

The Jayhawks have a lot of ground to make up, and that’s even if they get significant contribution from their newcomers.

Only eight teams in Big 12 history had a worse point differential than KU did last season. Those teams combined to go 12-52 in conference play during their next year.

Add in the fact that KU’s conference schedule gets tougher — dropping Nebraska and Colorado from last year’s slate to add Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma — and it’s hard to envision KU improving its record from 2010, even with what should be an improved team.

It’s worth noting KU has bucked this statistical trend before.

Back in 2002, KU was outscored by 255 (380-125) in conference play during coach Mark Mangino’s first season.

In his second year — sound familiar? — KU showed significant improvement, going 3-5 in Big 12 play while only getting outscored by 38 in conference games (247-209). The Jayhawks made a bowl game that year, losing, 56-26, to N.C. State to finish 6-7 overall.

It’s more likely that we see the 2011 Jayhawks improve incrementally — much like the Royals are doing this year.

Before KU can hope to win Big 12 games, it has to show it can stay close in them.


mustlehustle 2 years, 8 months ago

Second tier athletic director, and third tier head football coach. If you want to be the best. you hire "from" the best. If your program doesn't warrant hiring away their head coach or their A.D. you hire their senior staff. No offense to either, the status quo of football and hiring by the brain trust at KU, simply isn't going to weather the storm of recession, conference relignment and dismantling. Economies of scale isn't forgiving.


Mike Kendall 2 years, 8 months ago

Great analysis, Jesse! I am not looking for a miracle in the Big 12 this season. I want the Jayhawks to compete. Going into the fourth quarter, how many Big 12 games were basically over, with the exception of the win against CU, for KU? Compete! That is what I am looking for.


CRAZY4KUSPORTS 2 years, 8 months ago

This is a great article. I know the Royals are in last place right now, but they have not played like it as of late. The comparison of both teams being young is spot on. Lets just hope that the Hawks can be as competative as the Royals have been. I have been a believer in Coach Gill since day one. I just hope people allow this process to play out. This team will be much better this year, but their record may not reflect it.


Mike Barnhart 2 years, 8 months ago

Stupid title! Royals, KU Football Similar? KU Football HOPES to be Like Royals! That's more like it.


KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

The only real difference is that David Glass will never allow a winner in Kansas City. It's not profitable to keep enough good players around, to win enough games to make the playoffs. When Ewing Kauffman died, so did baseball in K.C.

And I don't want to hear the bologna about how a couple teams have risen without big payrolls, because that's like winning the lottery. You can't keep it up. Low payroll winners get blown up in FA anyway.

Do you realize that the Royals' farmed-up outfield consisted of Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon? The infield had Mike Sweeney, and Joe Randa holding it down. Also a good fielder and base stealer in Carlos Febles. That team could've been good if we kept the core, and got some help for Kevin Appier and Jeff Suppan. But by 2001 they let the sky rocketing Damon go. A couple years later both Beltran and Dye were let go. The only salary they opted to pay strangely was Mike Sweeney. He single handedly kept the fans in the seats for years. But the point is, outside of Sweeney, the Royals refused to pay anything over 5 million in salary during that span. That little time frame says it all about the chances of winning under Glass. That was our chance to rise up, and he threw it out the window.


Gregor Southard 2 years, 8 months ago

If Keegan had written this article there would 112 posts blasting his negativity


Jayhawk444 2 years, 8 months ago

very good analysis from the peanut gallery above (not to take away from Jesse's always-superb analysis). It can surely be said that Whittemore and Reesing - the quarterbacks - were primary reasons for the success of the team during their respective eras. Not that they didn't have other talented players on their teams, but they were the difference makers. The quarterback is so important - he alone can be the difference between a bowl team and a last place team, or a pre-Christmas bowl team and a post-New Year's bowl team. We need a quarterback!


squawkhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, but KU is going to whoop lowly KSU this year!


hawksince51 2 years, 8 months ago

While the comparison of Royals to KU fb seemed like way too far a stretch, I have to agree with what the article says about the latter. My expectations for KU fb for 2011 are for incremental, not drastic improvement. Based on the schedule I'm not sure this improvement will be reflected in our W-L record. I'm more encouraged about the following few years due to Gill's improved recruiting. I realize you still have to lace 'em up and play the games, but if we can consistently recruit better than half our opponents, then we should have a winning record in a couple of years.


DRsmith 2 years, 8 months ago

I was expecting a much shorter article. "They both Suck"


Funhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Fun Comment from Huskercarpenter on July 30, 2011: “I will tell you I have watched Turner for thirty years now and there has been one constant, he is successful at every single thing he does. Always! Enjoy what is going to happen at KU.”

This date in Turner His-story from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Monday, August 02, 1976. “Cleburne, Tx - Lubbock Southwest's inability to hit off Turner Gill sent them home Sunday night. Gill, for the second time in three nights, held Lubbock to three hits, and Greater Fort Worth toppled the Southwesterners 5-1 in the double-elimination Pony League Baseball Tournament.”

Fun fact: Coming out of high school in 1980, Turner was drafted in the second round by the Chicago White Sox. He chose instead to go to college, became an all-Big 8 shortstop, and was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1983. “B e l i e v e” and “Expect great effort all the time.”


ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 8 months ago

Two groups of the most mistreated fans I'm sports. KC would easily rival Boston or Stl for one of the best baseball towns in MLB if they just had a winner. And don't tell me KU football could not sellout a 50000t football stadium. We can get 16300 to show up on a Tuesday night during a blizzard in the middle of winter to watch the basketball team take on longwood (giggity). We could easily, consistantly sellout memorial on a crisp fall Saturday at the most beautiful college campus around.

Just give us a freaking winner!!!


roosey 2 years, 8 months ago

Bill Whittemore made all the difference in the world in 2003. While his numbers were pretty astronomical for a KU quarterback in 2002 (151-305, 1666 yards, 11 passing TD's, 11 rushing TD's and only 6 INT's) his numbers in 2003 were unwordly by comparison. His completion percentage improved dramatically for 49.5 percent to 60.5 percent, and though he threw about 40 less passes, he had about 800 more passing yards and seven more passing TD's. He also rushed for 10 TD's that season.

While many are quick to tout Reesing as the greatest quarterback in KU history (not that I disagree, mind you), let's not forget that it was Whittemore's leadership and markedly improved performance that got us over that hump and into a bowl game for the first time in almost a decade. Though we lost, it was a very important stepping stone for the KU football program. It led us to better facilities, recruits, and three more bowl games, all of which were victories.

Too often on these boards I see naysayers saying "nay" to this team, our leadership and our players. I'd like to remind you all that before Mangino and Whittemore and Clark Green and the rest of those guys, we felt lucky just to get a win in football. Now we expect greatness, and we have guys like Whittemore to thank for paving the way to higher expectations.

When I see the quarterbacks we have on our roster, it reminds me of improvements that Whittemore made in that second year. It reminds me that all it takes is hard-nosed football and a little bit of extra confidence to turn a lackluster offense into something mighty. It also reminds me how much a great offense can help out a less-than-great defense. If we can bring back the up-tempo, play-like-your-life-depends-on-it style of offense that brought us to glory (and with the incredible speed we've recruited, who's to say we can't?) then I see no reason why this year can't be another 2003.

When we beat Missouri the first time, it shocked us. When we beat K-State the first time, it shocked them. When we won our first bowl game, it shocked the nation. When we won the Orange Bowl, it shocked the world. But it all started with a coach nobody liked taking a chance on some kid nobody had ever heard of.


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